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Old 14th Sep 2005, 17:34   #1 (permalink)
 
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Thor Missile Base

Hi
In the EARLY 60s when I was an Air Cadet we had our Summer Camp ar RAF Topcliffe. Some of us were taken to visit a THOR MISSILE base that was within 1hr bus drive from Topcliffe but I cannot for the life of me think of its name only that it seemed to be quite a small det with 3 missiles (that we could see) and that the Officers that showed us around were RAF and also USAF.
Can anybody help me as to the location of this airfield please ???
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Old 14th Sep 2005, 17:49   #2 (permalink)

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Could it possibly have been Driffield?
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Old 14th Sep 2005, 19:18   #3 (permalink)
 
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Copied from: http://www.harringtonmuseum.org.uk/ThorUK.htm

The missile was still being operationally proven as a weapons system however, and nearly a year was to elapse before the next batch of RAF squadrons was declared operational with the Thor, on 22 July 1959. These were No. 82(SM) at Shepherd's Grove, Suffolk, No. 104(SM) at Ludford Magna, Lincolnshire, No. 106(SM) at Bardney, also in Lincolnshire, No. 107(SM) at Tuddenham, Suffolk, No. 113(SM) at Mepal, Cambridgeshire, No. 142(SM) at Coleby Grange, Lincolnshire, No. 220(SM) at North Pickenham, Norfolk, and No. 269(SM) at Caistor, Lincolnshire.

Five more RAF Thor units became operational on 1 August 1959, all of them in the East Riding of Yorkshire: No 98(SM) at Driffield, No. 102(SM) at Full Sutton, No. 150(SM) at Carnaby, No. 226 at Catfoss and No.240(SM) at Breighton. And it was the end of the year before the six remaining squadrons reached operational status - No. 97(SM) at Hemswell, Lincolnshire, No. 130(SM) at Polebrook . Northamptonshire, No. 144(SM) at North Luffenham, Rutland, No. 218(SM) at Harrington, Northamptonshire, No. 223(SM) at Folkingham, Lincolnshire and No. 254(SM) at Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire.

Another paragraph states that 3 missiles constituted a Sqn.

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Old 14th Sep 2005, 21:36   #4 (permalink)
 
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No mention of Feltwell in that list.
IIRC it was the first Thor base to achieve operational status.
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Old 14th Sep 2005, 21:41   #5 (permalink)
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I believe Elvington ended up as a Thor missile base, although it's fecking huge runway was built for US long range bombers that never ended up being based there (I think).
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Old 15th Sep 2005, 12:13   #6 (permalink)
 
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Previous paragraph to the one above:

On 19 September 1958 No. 77(SM) Squadron received its first Thor missile, which was flown to Feltwell aboard a USAF C-124 Globemaster, and all subsequent missiles were delivered by this means, along with their ancillary equipment. The missile was still being operationally proven as a weapons system however, and nearly a year was to elapse before the next batch of RAF squadrons was declared operational with the Thor, on 22 July 1959. These were No. 82(SM) at Shepherd's Grove, Suffolk, No. 104(SM) at Ludford Magna, Lincolnshire, No. 106(SM) at Bardney, also in Lincolnshire, No. 107(SM) at Tuddenham, Suffolk, No. 113(SM) at Mepal, Cambridgeshire, No. 142(SM) at Coleby Grange, Lincolnshire, No. 220(SM) at North Pickenham, Norfolk, and No. 269(SM) at Caistor, Lincolnshire.
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Old 16th Sep 2005, 07:58   #7 (permalink)
 
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Wasn't Elvington and Manston built during WW2 with massive runways as crash landing bases for badly damaged bombers?
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Old 16th Sep 2005, 10:51   #8 (permalink)
 
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No, Elvington ended the war with a standard 3-runway layout, two squadrons of Halifax flying from there, operated by the Free-French Airforce. The runways were dug up to provide hard-core for the single remaining runway, as a forward operating base for B47 surge-ops in the early 1950's, and provided an RLG for the learner-drivers out of Linton and Fenton.

There was a rumour a couple of years back that one R. Branson was planning to develop the place as a maintenance facility for Virgin, but it seems to have fizzled out.

There's an excellent museum on part of the old tech site, which amongst many exhibits, includes 'Friday the 13th', a composite Halifax, and a Victor, which sometimes does taxi runs on the runway.

Carnaby, near Bridlington, and just inland from the beach was a FIDO-equipped ELG, like Manston and Woodbridge, and was Thor-equipped as has already been noted. The mother of an ex-girlfriend told me she was once travelling on a train between Brid and Hull, and noticed all three of Carnaby's Thors erect. Having been recently demobbed from the WRAF, she was aware of their existence, and rushed home expecting the imminent arrival of Soviet ICBMs.

Last edited by diginagain; 16th Sep 2005 at 21:43.
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Old 16th Sep 2005, 16:30   #9 (permalink)
 
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I went through flying training in the Royal Air Force between 1960 and 1962. The Thor sites were very good navigation features and we all had them plotted on our maps. They consisted of three T-shaped launch pads arranged in a triangle with the three missile storage sheds behind each pad.

At night, they stood out like dogs' b*lls for they were surrounded by a circle of very bright yellow sodium security lights. (The Bloodhound missile sites were similarly prominent - no pun intended).

It was very unusual to see one of the Thor missiles outside of its shed.

Mepal was one of the VFR reporting points from Oakington. I well remember one Varsity pilot calling up one morning in great excitement on his way across the Fens to inform the rest of us that "Mepal has an erection this morning". And so it did!

Last edited by JW411; 16th Sep 2005 at 16:41.
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