RAF Acaster Malbis, Yorkshire
Site Visits: 29th July, 2006; 9th May, 2009
A troubled airfield due to its location, construction began on Acaster Malbis airfield in 1941 and the site opened in 1942. Originally laid out as a grass airfield, after a period as a fighter and training station, work was later undertaken to rebuild and upgrade Acaster Malbis as a Class-A bomber airfield, with three intersecting concrete runways: 16/34 NNW/SSE (1400 yds/1280 m); 29/11 E/W (1400 yds/1289 m) and 22/04 NNE/SSW (2000 yds/1828 m). Two T2 and a B1 hangar were provided and the watch tower was a watch office for all commands (343/43). The bomb stores were sited to the east of the airfield with the technical site and dispersed sites to the west and north. Accommodation over seven sites (not including sewage and sick quarters) was provided for a total of 1394 RAF and WAAF, all ranks. The station Pundit code was 'AM'.
Acaster Malbis opened under 12 Group, Fighter Command as a satellite for RAF Church Fenton. In January 1941, 601 Squadron (Bell P-39 Airacobra, coded UF) arrived and was the only front-line squadron to serve there. Constant problems with mist and fog due to the station's proximity to water courses, combined with low elevation, caused the fighters to move out and Acaster Malbis was transferred to 21 Group, Flying Training Command in April 1942, with the arrival of 15 (P) AFU. The conditions were as a bad for training as operations by fighters, so 15 (P) AFU also left in January, 1943.
The airfield was transferred to 4 Group, Bomber Command in 1943 and upgraded to Class-A standard, with the addition of the hard-surfaced runways and 36 loop-type hardstands for aircraft parking, hangars, bomb dump, etc. As a bomber station, it was a failure before it began and was transferred to 7 (Training) Group Bomber Command, without having seen the arrival of one operational squadron. As a bomber training station it failed again, with no flying units occupying the site and was instead used for circuit training by the nearby HCUs.
For a brief period in 1944, the site was used by both No 4 Aircrew Training School and 91 MU, who managed the storage of bombs on the airfield and nearby woods.
The station closed to flying in February 1946 and the road across the site re-opened. Today, the remaining hangar is used for agriculture. The tower, formerly used as a house, is now derelict and parts of the technical site are used by a bus maintenance company. The communalsSite was, for years, a piggery but even these have gone.
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