Eight miles from Lincoln and seven from Newark, on the east side of the A46 - the Roman Fosse Way - this was one of the last expansion plan airfields to be built. Like several other stations that were still incomplete on the outbreak of war; Swinderby received three of the economic curved-roof Type J hangars instead of the Type Cs. However, the barracks, administrative and much of the technical site buildings were built to the pre war specification and grouped together on the A46 side of the station. A public road ran through camp on the east side. The main contractors were John Laing & Son Ltd whose first task was to clear and level the landing ground so that it could be re=seeded where necessary.
Swinderby was allocated to No.1 Group and in late August 1940 Nos. 300 and 301 Squadrons arrived from the training station at Bramcote. These were the first Polish manned bomber squadrons in the RAF and had only been formed a few weeks earlier. Equipped with Fairey Battles, they undertook their first operation on the night of September 14/15 when three aircraft from each squadron bombed barges in Boulogne harbour. The Battle was quite unsuited for night operations and in October No. 300 Squadron began to re-equip with Wellingtons. No. 301 followed suit the following month.
Twenty-four pan hardstandings and a concrete perimeter track were constructed during the winter of 1940-41, three spurs with three pans each being positioned on the far side of the A46. Consequently, traffic had to be halted when aircraft crossed the road to and from these dispersal points.
The two Polish squadrons continued to operate from Swinderby until July 1941 at which time the station had been passed to No. 5 Group in a general re-allocation of airfields in Bomber Command. No. 50 Squadron was moved in from Lindholme, resuming operations with its Hampdens on July 20 but personnel and equipment for No. 455 Squadron (an RAAF unit which was being re-established in the UK to fly Hampdens) were so long in arriving that its first raid - a single sortie - did not take place until August 29/30.
Swinderby had been waterlogged the previous winter and was badly rutted from taxying Wellingtons. As a result, the airfield had a priority for the installation of hard runways and in November 1941 the two resident squadrons took their Hampdens to Skellingthorpe so that construction could commence.
The main runway, 07-25, ran parallel with the A46, and was 1,450 yards long while the 11-29 and 02-20 runways were both 1,230 yards, terminating at the main to allow clearance over the A46. The runways were completed by April 1942 but then lengthened to comply with revised specifications, the main being extended to 2,000 yards across the Swinderby-Norton Disney road which was closed. There were also small extensions to 02-20 and 11-29 at the 20 and 29 ends making both 1,370 yards long, the former causing the closure of Norton Lane. At the time the runways were laid down, the number of pan hardstadings was increased to 36 and three Type T2 hangars were erected on the north side of the technical site during 1941- 42. Bomb stores were situated beyond the south side of the airfield between the heads of runways 02 and 29. Three additional domestic sites were dispersed in countryside towards Thurlby raising the total accommodation to 2,127 males and 349 females.
The airfield was ready for use by June 1942 so No. 50 Squadron returned to convert to Manchesters while runways were being put down at Skellingthorpe. This lasted until October when the squadron returned to its former base. A No. 50 Squadron Lancaster failing to return on the night of September 23/24, 1942 is believed to be the last Bomber Command aircraft lost in operations from Swinderby, bringing the total wartime losses to 84. These were two Battles, 54 Hampdens, 12 Wellingtons, two Manchesters and seven Lancasters.
Swinderby was then selected to become an operational training station for No. 5 Group with the formation of No. 1660 Heavy Conversion Unit using Manchesters and Lancasters. However, a shortage of Lancasters in the autumn of 1943 caused most to be withdrawn from the HCU and Stirlings were employed instead until the position improved. Some form of training activity was henceforth to be Swinderby's lot. No. 1660 HCU came under the control of No. 7 Training Group in November 1944 and remained for two more years before moving to Lindholme. It was replaced at Swinderby by No. 17 OTU - initially with Wellingtons - later redesignated No. 201 Advanced Flying School being joined by No. 204 AFS using Mosquitos. In following years, further changes of unit and equipment occurred with Swinderby remaining a flying training establishment until March 1964. During the fifties there was ongoing construction work at the station with the addition of a new apron while improvements were made to the taxiways and several buildings including the control tower.
In 1964 Swinderby embraced a new role, that of recruit training. A flying unit was added to the ground school in 1979 for the express purpose of prospective pilot assessment. For over 30 years the station was the RAF's major establishment for recruit assessment and basic training, the airfield remaining open for flying visitors but this activity ceased in the early `nineties. The 629 acres were put up for sale in 1995 with permission to develop the site for new homes and a business park.