This airfield was constructed to Class A standard and built during 1942-43 in the parishes of East Kirkby and Hagnaby, 11 miles north of Boston, directly south of the A155 Coningsby to Spilsby road. Most of the land taken was that of Hagnaby Grange Farm, the farmhouse being left standing within the airfield perimeter track. A north south minor road on the east of the site had to be closed. The main contractor was John Laing & Son Ltd. The runways were to the ideal dimensions: main 02-20 at 2,000 yards with 08-26 and 13-31 both 1,400 yards long. The perimeter track served 27 pan and eight loop-type hardstandings and the standard hangarage was provided for this period of the war: two T2s, positioned one on the technical site between runway heads 08 and 13 and the other south of runway head 26. Later, a Bl hangar was erected between the technical site T2 and runway head 08. Still later, in the spring of 1944, four T2 hangars were added adjacent to the technical site on its north side, west of runway 20 near the A155. These served No. 55 Base Maintenance. Bomb stores were situated off the north-east side between runway heads 20 and 26. The dispersed camp north of East Kirkby village consisted of six domestic, two WAAF, two communal and a sick quarters site, providing for a maximum of 1,965 males and 486 females.
When ready to receive an operational unit, No. 57 Squadron's Lancasters moved in from Scampton which was due to be closed for hard runways to be put down. This was in August 1943, the squadron flying its first operation from East Kirkby on the night of August 27/28 to Hamburg. In November, `B' Flight of No. 57 was taken to form a new squadron, No. 630. The usual practice was for the newcomer to be moved onto another airfield but, in this case, No. 630 remained with its parent at East Kirkby throughout the rest of Bomber Command's offensive.
Shortly before the end of the war - on April 17 - a major accident occurred at East Kirkby when a l,OOO lb bomb exploded during bombing-up in the darkness, setting off the remainder of the No. 57 Squadron Lancaster's load. There were 17 casualties including four killed and six Lancasters were declared Category E (beyond repair) and another 14 suffered some form of damage. The nearby hangar and Hagnaby Grange were also badly damaged.
The last raid from East Kirkby was flown on April 25, 1945. In total, 212 operations were carried out from this airfield from which 121 Lancasters failed to return. Another 29 were lost in operational crashes or accidents.
No. 630 Squadron disbanded in July that year, its place taken by No. 460 Squadron from Binbrook. This Australian unit was to join No. 57 for transfer to the Far East as part of Tiger Force but the dropping of the atomic bombs expedited Japan's surrender. Consequently, No. 460 disbanded at East Kirkby in October and No. 57 the following month.
The airfield was then on care and maintenance although Mosquitos from Coningsby used the airfield during the autumn and winter of 1947-48 while repair work was carried out at their home station. The Cold War brought a revival for the airfield's fortunes when it was one of several enlarged and improved having been selected for possible use by the USAF. As a result, runway 08-26 was lengthened on the 26 end by 1,266 yards. The USAF remained for four years in the mid-1950s during which period Air Rescue Squadrons used the station. East Kirkby was finally sold by the government in 1964.
Apart from farming activities on the airfield, the runways were used for the isolated positioning of poultry houses holding broiler birds by Eastwoods Ltd. In 1981, the airfield was purchased by two local farmers, Fred and Harold Panton, and seven years later they acquired the rather dilapidated Lancaster gate guardian from Scampton (NX611). The aircraft was beautifully refurbished forming the nucleus of the Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre set up in memory of their elder brother, Pilot Officer Christopher Panton of No. 433 Squadron, lost on the Nuremberg raid on March 30/31, 1944.