Boxted Airfield Museum

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Construction of the airfield at Boxted began in 1941 and was eventually opened in 1943 as AAF Station 160. The base was assigned to the 9th Air Force USAAF and in May 1943 became home to the 386th Bombardment Group (Medium) equipped with the B-26 Marauder, however this unit only remained at Boxted for a short time before relocating to Dunmow in September.

The base was not unoccupied for long and in November 1943 the 354th Fighter Group arrived with the first of the new Merlin engined P-51B Mustangs assigned to fly escort missions for the Eighth Air Force’s bomber groups. Known as the “Pioneer Mustang Group”, the 354th the first unit in the USAAF to operate the P-51B Mustang in the European theatre and were instrumental in the development of tactics that would be used by other Mustang equipped groups.

Boxted 354th FG

In March 1944 the 354th Fighter Group left Boxted for an Advanced Landing Ground at Leshenden, to support  the D-Day landings.

Boxted is perhaps best known for its association with the 56th Fighter Group  (nicknamed “Zemke’s Wolfpack” after the legendary ace Hubert Zemke), and this unit moved from Halesworth to Boxted in April 1944. The 56th took part in all the major air battles during their stay at Boxted including D-Day and the battle of the Bulge. They gained the nickname Wolfpack due to the number of high scoring pilots in the unit. Throughout their time in combat the group flew the P-47 Thunderbolt, the heaviest fighter in WW2. Like the 354th FG, the role of the group was escorting the bombers over enemy territory, later with additional fuel tanks fitted the 56th could escort bombers all the way to Germany. As the war in Europe was coming to an end and the Luftwaffe were virtually defeated, the Wolfpack would turn their attention to attacking ground targets. The 56th stayed at Boxted until the end of the war in Europe, finally returning home by the end of October 1945.

 

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In May 1944 Boxted also saw the arrival 5th Emergency Rescue Squadron equipped with war weary P-47 Thunderbolts. The aircraft were modified to carry dinghies, marker buoys and flares on their bomb racks. The mission of the unit was to locate pilots who had bailed out over the North Sea and would drop life rafts and inform sea-based rescue units who would then pick up the pilots.

After the cessation of hostilities, Boxted was handed over to RAF Fighter Command and saw the arrival of  Mosquito Night Fighters and Gloster Meteor jets before final closure in 1947

Today a small museum hosts a collection of displays and artefacts dedicated to the airfields history as well as the unfairly maligned Marauder.

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Langham Lane, Langham
Essex CO4 5NW
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