Nuthampstead Airfield Museum

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Nuthampstead, known officially as AAF Station 131, was built by the 814th and 630th Engineer Battalions of the US Army in 1942 to the standard Class A specification seen on many other airfields. Class A was the specification set for an airfield that was to be used as a heavy bomber station with three runways, 50 hard standings, two T-2 type hangars for aircraft maintenance, a bomb dump and enough accommodation to house around 2900 personnel.

nuthampstead

Although the airfield was built to accommodate heavy bombers; the first resident was the 55th Fighter Group which arrived at Nuthampstead in September 1943. Flying the P-38H Lightning the group began combat operations on 15th October with sweeps over the Dutch islands. The P-38H suffered a number of engine cooling issues which were never truly resolved, however the group flew 72 missions and was the first group to fly an escort mission to Berlin on 3rd March 1944.

The 55th FG moved to Wormingford in Essex on 16th April 1944 whereupon the airfield became home to the 398th Bombardment Group (Heavy) flying the B-17G Flying Fortress.

The 398th largely flew strategic bombing missions attacking German industry such as aircraft production, oil supply, and rail marshalling yards; however like many bomb groups it switched to a more tactical role in support of the D-Day landings in Normandy, Operation Market Garden in Holland, the Battle of the Bulge and the allied crossing of the Rhine. In all the group flew 195 combat missions losing 58 aircraft flying its last combat mission on 25th April 1945 to attack an airfield in Pilsen, Czechoslovakia.

Nuthampstead B-17

The 398th left Nuthampstead on 26th May 1945 and returned to the USA and the station was transferred to RAF Maintenance Command on 10 July 1945. The airfield was used as an ordnance store until being placed under care and maintenance on 30th October 1954 and finally closed on 1st March 1959.

Today a growing museum holds 60 video interviews with veterans along with many artefacts and documents pertaining to both of these groups and two impressive memorials dedicated to all those who lost their lives flying from Nuthampstead.  The museum is located behind the Woodman Inn which was frequented by base personnel throughout the war and has a number of photographs displayed.

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Near Royston
Hertfordshire
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