RAF Stoney Cross


RAF Stoney Cross

Infobox Military Structure
name= Royal Air Force Station Stoney Cross
USAAF Station 452
location= Located Near Southampton, Hampshire, England
coordinates=coord|50|55|08|N|001|39|36|W|


caption= Aerial Photo Mosaic of Stoney Cross Airfield - 3 September 1943
type= Military airfield
code=SS
built=1942
builder=
materials=
height=
used=1942-1946
demolished=
condition=
ownership=
controlledby=Royal Air Force
United States Army Air Forces
garrison=RAF Fighter Command
RAF Bomber Command
Ninth Air Force
RAF Transport Command
commanders=
occupants=239 Squadron FC
Nos. 297, 299 Squadron BC
367th Fighter Group
387th Bombardment Group
battles= European Theatre of World War II
Air Offensive, Europe July 1942 - May 1945 Location map|Hampshire
caption= RAF Stoney Cross, shown within Hampshire
lat= 50.91
long= -1.66
width= 200

RAF Stoney Cross is a former World War II airfield in England. The field is located 10 miles W of Southampton in Hampshire.

The airfield was opened in November 1942 and was used by the Royal Air Force and United States Army Air Force Ninth Air Force. It was also known as USAAF Station 452, Station Code: SS.

After the war, the field was closed in 1946.

RAF Fighter/Bomber Command use

Although officially opened in November 1942, RAF Fighter Command No. 239 Squadron's P-51B Mustangs that arrived in January followed by those of No. 26 Squadron had to operate amid on-going construction work. After the Mustang squadrons moved out in April 1943 there was additional construction at the airfield until August 1943.

In August, RAF Bomber Command No. 297 Squadron took up residence with Albermarles to which it was converting from Whitleys. In November, 297 Squadron had one unit transferred to provide the nucleus of No. 299 Squadron, which was initially equipped with Venturas until Siblings became available in January 1944. Early in March the two squadrons and activities connected with the airborne forces were transferred elsewhere; Stoney Cross having been allocated to the USAAF Ninth Air Force as a forward base for tactical fighters.

USAAF use

367th Fighter Group

An American advance party soon arrived to ready the airfield for the incoming fighter group whose personnel came in on 5 April. The 367th Fighter Group arrived from Oakland Municipal Airport, California flying Lockheed P-38 Lightnings. They had the following fighter squadrons and fuselage codes:

* 392d Fighter Squadron (H5)
* 393d Fighter Squadron (8L)
* 394th Fighter Squadron (4N) The 367th was a group of Ninth Air Force's 70th Fighter Wing, IX Tactical Air Command.

When the group arrived at Stoney Cross the pilots of the 367th were somewhat surprised to learn that they were now to fly twin-engine P-38 Lightnings, having flown P-39 Airacobras in California. This was due to the availability of sufficient P-38s in the UK to equip three groups even though the personnel of only the 392d Fighter Squadron had trained with the P-38.

The 367th entered combat on 9 May 1944, attacking railways, bridges, hangars, and other targets in western France, and escorting bombers that struck airfields, marshalling yards and other facilities in the same area.

In the latter half of June the 367th switched to ground attack missions supporting First Army ground forces in France. On 16 June each aircraft carried two 2,000 pound bombs on an experimental mission; the first time such a heavy bomb load had been used by P-38s in combat. Up to this time, 367th casualties had been light, however two days later four aircraft failed to return. Worse was to follow when seven P-38s were lost during the intensive "softening up" of German positions prior to a ground offensive to secure Cherbourg.

In all, 21 P-38s were missing in action from Stoney Cross during the 367th's stay during which time 55 missions had been flown from the airfield.

On 6 July the 367th Fighter was moved to nearby RAF Ibsley to make way for the 387th Bomb Group.

387th Bombardment Group (Medium)

With the fighters at Ibsley, the Martin B-26 Marauders of the 387th Bombardment Group moved to Stoney Cross from RAF Chipping Ongar on 25 June 1944. They had the following bomber squadrons and fuselage codes:

* 556th Bombardment Squadron (FW)
* 557th Bombardment Squadron (KS)
* 558th Bombardment Squadron (KX)
* 559th Bombardment Squadron (TQ) The 387th was a group of Ninth Air Force's 98th Bombardment Wing, IX Bomber Command.

Ninth Air Force wanted to move the 98th Bomb Wing's four Marauder groups into the New Forest area at the earliest opportunity to those airfields built to a bomber standard. On 27 June the 387th became operational from Stoney Cross, bombing along the invasion coast and supporting ground forces by raiding railways, bridges, road junctions, defended areas, and fuel dumps.

By 1 September the group was able to move across the English Channel to its Advanced Landing Ground at a former Luftwaffe airfield at Maupertus, France (A-15).

On the continent, the 387th BG used the following Advanced Landing Grounds:

* A-15 Maupertus, France 22 Aug 1944
* A-39 Chateaudun, France 18 Sep 1944
* A-71 Chastres, France 30 Oct 1944
* Y-41 Masstricht/Beek, Holland 29 Apr 1945

The group ended combat operations in Apr 1945. On 24 May the group was sent to Rosieres-en-Santerre Air Base, France for several months. The 387th Bomb Group returned to the US in November and was inactivated at Camp Kilmer, New Jersey on 17 November 1945.

RAF Transport Command

With the Americans moved into France by 5 September, Stoney Cross reverted to RAF Transport Command control and at first, the station was used for the assessment and repair of gliders recovered from the Normandy operations. In November 1944, two transport squadrons, No. 232 and No. 242, were re-formed at Stoney Cross, initially with Wellingtons.

No. 46 Squadron was added in January 1945 and equipped with Stirling transports and later C-47 Dakotas.

Postwar Military use

Following the end of hostilities in Europe, Stoney Cross was developed as a major staging post for RAF transports flying to the Far East. This activity was gradually reduced and by December 1946 the remaining units had transferred to RAF Manston. However, Stoney Cross was retained on a care and maintenance basis until January 1945 when the airfield was released back to its pre-war owners.

Civil Use

Upon its release from military use, the airfield stood neglected. With nature seeming set to take over, the Forestry Commission stepped in and put down a number of plantations. Runways were broken up in the 1960s to meet demands for hardcore in the area and most of the usable buildings were sold. Later the Forestry Commission established picnic sites on three dispersal point areas for public recreation.

Today the Forestry Commission owns the former airfield. The water tower has recently been removed but there remains single track concrete roads where the perimeter track once was. Several hardstandings survive, although in a deteriorated condition. Two secondary "C" roads use parts of two of the former runways as rights of way. There is a small marker along one of the roads as a memorial to the former airfield. Although the concrete runways have been removed, the runway layout is still clear from the ground and is especially noticeable where trees and plants are no longer growing along the length of the old runways.

The Forestry Commission has an ongoing program to remove the last of the concrete at Stoney Cross and eventually the area will be unrecognizable as a former wartime airfield.

ee also

* List of RAF stations
* USAAF Ninth Air Force - World War II
* 387th Air Expeditionary Group
* 367th Fighter Group

References

* Freeman, Roger A. (1994) UK Airfields of the Ninth: Then and Now 1994. After the Battle ISBN 0900913800
* Freeman, Roger A. (1996) The Ninth Air Force in Colour: UK and the Continent-World War Two. After the Battle ISBN 1854092723
* Maurer, Maurer (1983). Air Force Combat Units Of World War II. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0892010924.
* [http://www.controltowers.co.uk/S/Stoney_Cross.htm www.controltowers.co.uk RAF Stoney Cross]
* [http://armyairforces.com www.armyairforces.com 367th Fighter Group, 387th Bomb Group]

External links

* [http://daveg4otu.tripod.com/airfields/stx.html Complete listing of RAF/USAAF units at RAF Stoney Cross]
* [http://www.multimap.com/map/photo.cgi?client=public&X=424000&Y=112000&width=700&height=400&gride=424500&gridn=112500&srec=0&coordsys=gb&db=freegaz&pc=&zm=0&scale=25000&up.x=284&up.y=4 Aerial photo of RAF Stoney Cross from Multimap.Com]


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