In 1937 some consideration was given to dispersal of Bomber Command aircraft in the event of air raids on its stations. Despite efforts to keep new airfield sites and measures to camouflage them secret, there was little doubt that the potential enemy knew exactly where they were and would have little difficulty in finding them from the air. Satellite aerodromes were considered one answer to this threat - a landing ground within reasonable road travel distance of the parent airfield to which aircraft could be diverted if the home station was bombed or likely to be attacked. If need be operations could be conducted from the satellite field with fuel and munitions delivered by road. Thus, in the spring of 1938, the Air Ministry acquired some 150 acres of open meadowland at Alconbury Hill, Huntingdonshire, expressly for use as a satellite airfield. The exact location was adjacent to the ancient Roman road Ermine Street, north-west of Little Stukeley village, near to the junction where Ermine Street became A1 instead of A14. After only a minimum of preparation, it was put to the test in May 1938 when No. 63 Squadron, the first to be equipped with the Fairey Battle light bomber, flew in from its home station of Upwood five miles away. This was a two-day training exercise and other squadrons were to follow over the next 15 months. During this period, accommodation was limited to a few wooden huts but plans were afoot to provide both refuelling and rearmament facilities.
Soon after war was declared, Upwood squadrons were given operational training roles and Alconbury became Wyton's satellite under No. 2 Group. That station's resident squadrons during the Phoney War Nos. 12, 40 and 139, frequently deployed to Alconbury, No. 139 being the first to be actually stationed there, if only for nine days. Nos. 15 and 40 Squadrons converted from Battles to Blenheims but did not take part in bombing raids with the new type until the German Blitzkrieg was unleashed in May 1940. No. 15 Squadron took up residence on April 14, when additional requisitioned accommodation was available. It flew its first raid of the war on May 10 against a German occupied airfield near Rotterdam, all eight aircraft returning, some with flak damage. A following operation, an attempt to break the Albert Canal at Maastricht, was disastrous as half the 12-plane force despatched failed to return. The remnants of No. 15 then moved back to Wyton and Alconbury reverted to satellite use by both Wyton squadrons. In the autumn of 1940 these decimated units were scheduled to be converted to Wellingtons and on November 1, Wyton and Alconbury came under the control of No. 3 Group.
Alconbury was then upgraded to bomber airfield status, W & C French Ltd being the main contractor. A main concrete runway bearing 00-18 was built 1,375 yards long, the ancillaries 06-24 being 1,240 yards and 12-30 at 1,110 yards, all 50 yards wide. The encircling perimeter track served 30 pan type hardstandings, most leading off of five long access tracks on the northern side of the airfield. The technical site on the north-west side was expanded where a single T2 hangar was also erected. A second T2 was sited adjacent to the hardstanding complex east of the threshold of runway 18. Personnel accommodation was provided to the south-west side of the A14, around Alconbury House which had been requisitioned earlier.
While this work was in progress, No. 40 Squadron brought its Wellingtons to Alconbury in February 1941 and operated on night raids until the autumn. In October two of its flights with 16 Wellingtons were dispatched to operate from Malta, supposedly on an emergency detachment. The residue of No. 40 soldiered on but never had more than eight aircraft on strength. By February 1942 it was evident that the major section of No. 40 would not be returning from the Mediterranean area and on St Valentine's Day 1942 the Alconbury element formed into No. 156 Squadron. Operations with No. 3 Group continued until August when No. 156 was chosen to become one of the special Pathfinder Force units, moving to Warboys early that month. This was the end of RAF Bomber Command's association with Alconbury as earlier that year the airfield had been included in the group area planned for the first US Eighth Air Force Bombardment Wing with headquarters at Brampton Grange. This was currently the domain of the non-operational No. 8 Group which was acting as caretaker for the 15 existing and planned airfields in this area. A total of 67 bombers had been lost in RAF Bomber Command operations flown from Alconbury, eight were Blenheims and 59 Wellingtons.
USAAF personnel arrived in August 1942 and the following month the 93rd Bomb Group flew in with the first B-24 Liberators to join the Eighth Air Force. Runway lengthening was then underway to bring the airfield up to Class A standard: 06-24 to 2,000 yards and subsidiaries both to 1,400 yards. The work was completed by the end of the year when the B-24s left but additional hardstandings, all loops, were not ready until April 1943 when the B-17s arrived. At first, Alconbury was the home of the four squadrons of the 92nd Bomb Group, but later in the year the special pathfinder organisation, the 482nd Bomb Group, was built up at Alconbury. This organisation provided pathfinder leads with both H2S and H2X radar equipped B-17s and B-24s for Eighth Air Force missions, although from the spring of 1944 to the end of hostilities, its role was primarily training. During the latter part of 1943, an air depot facility was added at the Little Stukely end of the airfield occupied by the 2nd Strategic Air Depot tasked with the major repair, servicing and modification of B-17s of the 1st Division.
Alconbury was handed back to the RAF on November 26, 1945 and remained on care and maintenance status for 7.5 years but the threat from the USSR brought the Americans back to Alconbury, officially on June 1, 1953. The airfield had been selected for further upgrading with strengthening and extension of runway 12-30 to 3,000 by 67 yards. New aircraft standings, access tracks together with an on-going programme of service and domestic building continued for some years. First USAF flying unit based on the rejuvenated Alconbury was the 85th Bomb Squadron with B-45 Tornado jet bombers. This unit converted to B-66B Destroyers before departing in August 1959. The lOth Tactical Reconnaissance Wing arrived from France later that month flying RB-66s, the reconnaissance version, retained until 1965 when the two squadrons of the wing converted to the RF-4C Phantom. The 527th Tactical Fighter Training Squadron with Northrop F-SEs replaced one of the Phantom squadrons in April 1976 and eventually a version of the U-2 spy plane', the TR-l, replaced the other Phantoms. A-lOs and other types operated from Alconbury before the USAF withdrew in 1995. Sold to British Airports Authority for commercial development in 1997, the runway and hardened aircraft shelters were to be retained for ten years, yet Alconbury's long term future as an airfield is unlikely.