Meadowland five miles north-west of the centre of Cambridge was selected as a site for an expansion scheme airfield in the 1930s and construction of Oakington began in the summer of 1939. However, the specification was changed after war was declared and, as a result, a limit was placed on the number of permanent buildings and more utility types were dispersed around the village of Long Stanton St Michael, which was adjacent to the camp site at the north-west side of the landing ground. The original plan called for a crescent of Type C hangars on the technical site but two Type J were erected instead.
The station came into use under No. 2 Group in July 1940 as a refuge for battered No. 218 Squadron, recently returned from France, and re-equipping with Blenheims and its first offensive operation from the station was made on August 19. In September, Oakington was passed to No. 3 Group and chosen as the base for the first Stirling squadron - No. 7 - which had been working up on the type at Leeming away from the air battles in the south. In November 1940, No. 218 Squadron left for Marham and re-equipment with Wellingtons and to give the expanding Stirling complement at Oakington more room. The squadron had lost two Blenheims while on operations from the airfield.
During that same month, a few Spitfires appeared in a corner of the station to take up the newly-formed No. 3 Photographic Reconnaissance Unit (PRU) with a mission to conduct high altitude camera work over Bomber Command's targets but due to poor surface conditions during winter months, the unit often operated from Alconbury. The following summer it was moved to Benson.
The choice of grass-surfaced Oakington to base Stirlings when hard-surfaced runways were available elsewhere in No. 3 Group is puzzling. Oakington's fen soil had under drainage of the landing ground but it was no place for such a heavy aircraft in winter, and the soft surface put added strain on the Stirling's ungainly undercarriage resulting in a spate of landing and take-off accidents during the winter of 1940-41. Nevertheless, No. 7 Squadron sent out its first sorties on February 19, 1941 to attack Rotterdam docks. However, the airfield was so often unservicable that the Stirlings had to take off light and bomb-up at drier Wyton to carry out operations. During 1940 a perimeter track and at least 26 pans and six square-shaped hard standings were put down, two of the former being lost when two T2 hangars were erected on the north-west side of the technical area. Bomb stores were off to the north.
Hard runway construction began at Oakington during the spring of 1941 but No. 7 Squadron remained in residence while work was in progress laying concrete parallel to the grass strips. The main runway OS-23, 1,700 yards long, was completed first but the other two were not finished until the spring of the following year, the 01-19 being 1,300 yards and 10-28 1,400 yards. Thirty pan hardstandings were provided.
In June 1941, No. 101 Squadron arrived from West Raynham to be re-established as a Wellington unit in No. 3 Group. In February 1942 No. 101 was moved to the new satellite at Bourn and in August No. 7 joined the Pathfinder Force as an original squadron.
Further work on the runways during the spring of 1942 saw 05-23 extended to 2,000 yards at its 23 end and O1-19 to 1,526 yards the north-eastern end. As a result of this work, the B1050 road had to be closed. Reworking the perimeter track to meet the extensions resulted in some loss of hardstandings, these being reduced to 28 to which eight loops were added. At a later date a B1 hangar was erected on the north-west side of the airfield near Long Stanton village. Expanded domestic accommodation allowed for a maximum of 1,591 males and 350 females.
In January 1943, the Pathfinder Force became No. 8 Group and, with the gradual withdrawal of the Stirling from main force bombing operations, an early move was made that summer to re-equip No. 7 with Lancasters. No. 8 Group had settled on a policy of two squadrons per airfield, one with Lancasters and the other with Mosquitos and to this end No. 627 Squadron was formed at Oakington in November 1943 and became operational on the night of the 24th/25th. In April 1944 it went to No. 5 Group when that formation was developing its own target marking techniques for precision attacks. A new squadron - No. 571 - was formed to replace No. 627, which started life at Downham Market, beginning operations from Graveley before moving into Oakington.
Total operational losses of bombers flying from the airfield, including those destroyed in crashes in the UK, amounted to 258. This was made up of 113 Stirlings, 93 Lancasters, 36 Mosquitos and 16 Wellingtons.
Post-war, No. 7 was moved to Mepal in July 1945 when Oakington was transferred to Transport Command, the squadron being unique in Bomber Command m having been based at the same station throughout its operational career. It was at Oakington for over four and a half years during which time it flew 546 raids - more than 5,000 sorties with 78 Stirlings and 87 Lancasters failing to return from operations. The same month No. 571 Squadron was moved out to Warboys.
Ex-Coastal Command Liberators of Nos. 206 and 86 Squadrons then took up station at Oakington in July and August 1945 for long range troop transport to the Far East but these squadrons were disbanded the following April after which Yorks arrived. A succession of transport squadrons came and went until late in 1950 when Training Command inherited the station. Harvards, Meteors, Vampires and then Varsities and Jetstreams were the main types in succession through the next 25 years. The Army then took over the camp as a barracks but in 1999 the Royal Anglian Regiment moved from Oakington to North Luffenham. The runways have now been removed for hard-core but the perimeter track remains. In 2000, part of the former domestic area was earmarked for accommodating overseas applicants for asylum in Britain.