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PostPosted: Sat 20 May 2017 00:20 am 
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Polebrook was a Class II airfield and had the curved J Type hangar and the 518/40 watch office when it opened in 1940. The Type J Hangar was cheaper and quicker to build than the C Type hitherto used on permanent airfields. It was used by the 8th USAAF. Class II airfields had around 20 pillboxes defending the landing area. A different hexagonal design with two loops, one above the other on adjacent faces and a single loop on alternate faces. There are two of these on the airfield; there is no obvious reason for this design TL091872 & 093862. The defence of the airfield was directed from the Battle HQ (BHQ) built to Drawing No.1 1008/41 consisting of a sunken chamber containing office and communications centre, with a raised concrete observation cupola at one end giving all-round visibility. It had two entrances, one through a hatch beside the cupola, and the other up steps from a door below ground level TL091872.
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RAF No. 90 Squadron had been absorbed into No. 17 Operational Training Unit in April 1940 but was reactivated 13 months later to trial the Flying Fortress 1 or B-17C in daylight, high altitude bombing raids. The squadron arrived in late June and on 8th July, three aircraft (C-WP, G-WP s/n AH326 & H-WP) left for Wilhelmshaven on their first sortie. Their final mission from Polebrook was to Emden on 25th September 1941. Of the 51 sorties flown half were abandoned, less than 50 tons of bombs were dropped and the whole experiment was considered a dismal failure.
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B-17F-125-BO 42-30857 My Devotion of the 510th BS/351st BG, Polebrook.
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After WW2 it became a THOR Missile site. THOR was a US missile which could deliver a one megaton nuclear warhead, up to a range of 1500 miles. The British Blue Streak IRBM would not be ready until the early 1960s at soonest, and would require costly underground silos and other time-consuming works. THOR was available in 1958 for deployment on British bases, and little was needed in the way of infrastructure. Old airfields were quite adequate, providing hard-standing. The missile was housed horizontally on a trailer, inside a steel-framed, covered shelter, being raised to the vertical for firing, on its own, in-built, erector cradle. Launch pads consisted of concrete hard-standings with thick, L-shaped concrete blast walls. Wiring for the prelaunch functions was led, by underground ducting, from the mobile Launch Control Trailer to each of the site’s three pads. A guardroom and Classified Storage Building stood some distance from the pads. Storage tanks, for the extremely volatile liquid oxygen used to fuel the rocket, stood adjacent to the pad, but the equipment used to pump it under pressure, was brought up on trailers. A small, brick building to house the equipment which set the missile’s guidance system stood about 125 yards from the rocket. Thus there was very little to see. Perhaps it was to draw attention to this deterrent weapon that a double-fenced, wire compound was erected round the site, floodlit at night. Pilots coming in to land at nearby airfields during the early 1960s have described how, on clear nights, the sites were clearly visible. The site operated from 1958 to 1963. Sites were arranged in clusters. North Luffenham was the main base for Polebrook along with Harrington in Northants, Folkingham (Lincolnshire) and Melton Mowbray (Leicestershire). North Luffenham is probably the most complete site, though the prominent blast-walls can still be seen at most other sites.

Site of Main Runway at Former Polebrook Airfield
Polebrook airfield was sold off by early 1967 and the St Ives Sand & Gravel Company removed most of the runway concrete for sale to the Cambridge hard-core market. This view down the farm track way is where the SW-NE main runway existed and shows about one quarter of the full runway length. Much of the area shown in this view is given over to public access. The airfield's war memorial pictured in the adjoining grid square TL1086 is at the end of the runway beneath the tall poplar trees ahead.
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The land is a mixture of agricultural, industrial and commercial with the J Type hangar and Thor pads remaining.
Polebrook Airfield Battle HQ
Hidden away in the hedgerow close to the old airfield site at Polebrook is the imposing sounding Battle HQ building. The idea was to build a very heavily reinforced (18″ thick bomb-proof roof) underground building away from the main airfield site so that if the airfield was over-run by enemy forces, the airfield commander could retreat to this well hidden building to continue his command. These are often so hidden that they have lay undiscovered for decades but if you can find an old war ministry map from the 1940s then all will be revealed. The top image shows the observation tower which is the only part visible above ground with the narrow slit providing the only visibility for those inside. Sadly, this fascinating underground bunker has become flooded over the years so exploration inside is impossible but it would be nice to think that one day the site will be pumped out and maybe even opened officially so that locals can grab a hands-on wartime experience.

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PostPosted: Sun 21 May 2017 16:49 pm 
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Interesting stuff.
Once again thanks for sharing Ratch . . .

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PostPosted: Sun 21 May 2017 21:50 pm 
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Cheers Ian :)

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