Welcome to The RAF in Essex, WW1 to WW2

Website about all the Airfields from RFC WW1 to WW2.

RAF Rivenhall

"Never was so much owed by so many to so few"
- Winston Churchill

RAF Rivenhall

RAF Rivenhall is a former World War II airfield in Essex, England. The airfield is located approximately 4 miles (6.4 km) south-southeast of Braintree; about 40 miles (64 km) northeast of London Opened in 1942, it was used by both the Royal Air Force and United States Army Air Forces. During the war it was used primarily as a combat airfield with various fighter and bomber units. After the war it was closed in 1946 and kept in reserve until 1956. Today the remains of the airfield are located on private property with the northern half being turned into a quarry.

Rivenhall was known as USAAF Station AAF-168 for security reasons by the USAAF during the war, and by which it was referred to instead of location. It's USAAF Station Code was "RL".

363d Fighter Group

On 22 January 1944, a squadron of the 363d Fighter Group arrived from RAF Keevil where it had been awaiting equipment. The group had been selected as the third in the European Theatere to be equipped with the new North American P-51B Mustang. The group consisted of the following operational squadrons:

  • 380th Fighter Squadron (A9)
  • 381st Fighter Squadron (B3)
  • 382d Fighter Squadron (C3)

On 14 April 1944 as part of a general movement of Ninth Air Force fighter units in the Colchester area to the advanced landing grounds, the 363rd moved to RAF Staplehurst. The actual movement of all elements had begun two days previously.

397th Bombardment Group

On the day following the departure of the 363d, the first Martin B-26 Marauders of the 397th Bombardment Group arrived from RAF Gosfield. The group consisted of the following operational squadrons:

  • 596th Bombardment Squadron (X2)
  • 597th Bombardment Squadron (9F)
  • 598th Bombardment Squadron (U2)
  • 599th Bombardment Squadron (6B)

The group's identification marking was a yellow diagonal band across both sides of the vertical tailplane.

Early in August, officially on the 5th, the 397th transferred from Rivenhall to RAF Hurn in Hampshire, to give the Marauders a better radius of action as the break-out of the Allied forces from the Normandy beachhead meant that potential targets were receding.

Civil use

Upon its release from military use, in June 1956, Marconi leased part of the airfield and within ten years had taken over most of the surviving buildings. Today, the northern half of the former airfield has been turned into a quarry, with the vast majority of the land in the northwest of the airfield being excavated.

The perimeter track of the airfield has been reduced to a single track agricultural road, however some of the loop hardstands still remain in the southwestern quadrant of the field. All three runways either have been quarried, or substantially reduced in width, with agriculture fields taking over the grass areas of the former airfield. A very small portion of the 28 end of the main runway still exists at full width. One T-2 hangar remains, along with a scattering of buildings. An automobile salvage yard has taken over some of the hardstands in the east end of the airfield, where once C-47s and gliders were stored. As of 2013 only one of the two T-2 hangars remain, with demolition claiming the other historical remaining buildings.