RAF Waddington Beginnings
The airfield at Royal Air Force Waddington opened as a flying training station in November 1916 teaching hundreds of pilots, including many from the US Army, to fly on a wide variety of aircraft until the station was put into care and maintenance in 1920.
After that RAF Waddington was enlarged, particularly after 1934, when major RAF expansion began, with many buildings constructed, including some of the hangars which remain in use today.
The station was re-opened as a bomber base on 12 March 1937, and by the end of year housed squadrons flying the Bristol Blenheim, which were subsequently superseded by Handley Page Hampdens.
1939 - 1945
The two Waddington squadrons, numbers 44 and 50, were in action on the first day of World War II attempting to bomb the German Navy at Keil, and during the Battle of Britain, Waddington’s Hampdens bombed German invasion barges anchored in Channel ports.
The Hampdens gave way to Avro Manchesters, and then, in December 1941 the first of the vastly superior Avro Lancasters entered RAF service for the first time with 44 Sqn at Waddington. It was with this unit Squadron Leader John Nettleton earned the Victoria Cross in June 1942 leading an attack on a German U-boat engine factory.
Concrete runways were laid during 1943 after which two Royal Australian Air Force Lancaster squadrons took up residence. The final WWII raid from Waddington took place on 25/26 April 1945 against an oil refinery at Tonsburg, after which the station was heavily involved in Operation Exodus, the repatriation of Prisoners of War.
Post War to the Falklands Conflict
Post war, Waddington hosted a variety of Lancaster and Avro Lincoln squadrons, and, later, Washingtons. The station was put into care and maintenance again in 1953 to prepare it for the V-bomber force.
In June 1954 the Queen approved the RAF Waddington badge, incorporating the towers of Lincoln cathedral, and on 25 April 1959 the station was granted the Freedom of the City of Lincoln. Since then all Waddington aircraft have carried the City Crest.
The station re-opened in June 1955. Two Canberra squadrons moved in and the first Avro Vulcans arrived in May 1957. By August 1961 three squadrons of Vulcans were based at Waddington, and the type remained there until March 1984, its planned retirement having been postponed because of the Falklands conflict.
Waddington provided the Vulcans that bombed Port Stanley and also those hastily modified for air-to-air refuelling duties.
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