Kings Cliffe Airfield, Control Tower





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Published on Nov 13, 2007

Kings Cliffe was assigned USAAF designation Station 367. It was the most northerly and furthest west of all Eighth Air Force fighter stations. It was in the 1st Air Division heavy bomber base area and more than fifty miles west of any other fighter bases. In spite of the reduced range of escort flights operating from such a westerly airfield, there does not appear to have been any attempt to move the Group to another site nearer the coast

347th Fighter Squadron
While still under construction, Kingscliffe received its first American units in December 1942 when a few P-39 Airacobras of the 347th Fighter Squadron of the 350th Fighter Group based at RAF Duxford were briefly based there.

56th Fighter Group
In January 1943 the 56th Fighter Group of the U.S. Army Air Force's Eighth Air Force arrived at Kings Cliffe from Bridgeport AAF Connecticut with the 347th FS returning to Duxford. The group was under the command of the 67th Fighter Wing of the VIII Fighter Command.

The group consisted of the following squadrons:

61st Fighter Squadron (HV)
62d Fighter Squadron (LM)
63d Fighter Squadron (UN)

The 56th Fighter group spent its time at Kings Cliffe learning RAF fighter control procedures and training for combat with new P-47s and did not fly any operational missions. In April 1943, the group was transferred to the 65th Figher Wing and moved to RAF Horsham St Faith.

20th Fighter Group
On 26 August 1943, the 20th Figher Group arrived from March AAF California. The group was under the command of the 67th Fighter Wing of the VIII Fighter Command. Aircraft of the 20th were identified by a black/white stripes along their cowlings and tails.

The group consisted of the following squadrons:

55th Fighter Squadron (KI)
77th Fighter Squadron (LC)
79th Fighter Squadron (MC)
At first. one squadron, the 55th. was billeted at RAF Wittering because of the shortage of accommodation at Kings Cliffe, later moving to the base when additional barracks had been built. The 20th FG entered combat with P-38's late in December 1943 and for several months was engaged primarily in escorting heavy and medium bombers to targets on the Continent. The group frequently strafed targets of opportunity while on escort missions.

The group retained escort as its primary function until the end of the war, but in March 1944 began to fly fighter-bomber missions, which became almost as frequent as escort operations. The squadrons strafed and dive-bombed airfields, trains, vehicles, barges, tugs, bridges, flak positions, gun emplacements, barracks, radio stations, and other targets in France, Belgium, and Germany.

The 20th became known as the "Loco Group" because of its numerous and successful attacks on locomotives. Received a Distinguished Unit Citation for its performance on 8 April 1944 when the group struck airfields in central Germany and then, after breaking up an attack by enemy interceptors, proceeded to hit railroad equipment, oil facilities, power plants, factories, and other targets.

Aircraft from the 20th flew patrols over the English Channel during the invasion of Normandy in June 1944, and supported the invasion force later that month by escorting bombers that struck interdictory targets in France, Belgium, and Holland, and by attacking troops, transportation targets, and airfields.

The 20th FG converted to P-51s in July 1944 and continued to fly escort and fighter-bomber missions as the enemy retreated across France to the Siegfried Line. The group participated in the airborne attack on Holland in September 1944, and escorted bombers to Germany and struck rail lines, trains, vehicles, barges, power stations, and other targets in and beyond the Siegfried Line during the period October-December 1944.

The unit took part in the Battle of the Bulge by escorting bombers to the battle area. Flew patrols to support the airborne attack across the Rhine in March 1945, and carried out escort and fighter-bomber missions as enemy resistance collapsed in April.

The 20th Fighter Group returned to Camp Kilmer, New Jersey and was deactivated on 18 Dec 1945.


See also: 20th Fighter Wing
On 29 July 1946 the 20th was reactivated Biggs Field, Texas then to Shaw AFB, South Carolina in Oct 1946 (in August of 1947 it became part of the new 20th Fighter Wing), then Langley AFB, Virginia in Nov 1951, in June 1952 the 20th Fighter-Bomber Wing returned to RAF Wethersfield then in 1970 to RAF Upper Heyford as part of the United States Air Force in Europe. The unit remained in the UK until 1993 when it returned to Shaw Air Force Base South Carolina as part of the drawdown of US forces in Europe after the end of the Cold War


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