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Yahoo Map of RAF Thurleigh January 1943

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Thurleigh (pronounced "THIR-lye") was built for RAF Bomber Command in 1941 by W & C French Ltd. one mile north of the village of Thurleigh on farmland between the farms of Buryfields, Bletsoe Park, Manor, and Whitwickgreen. It was eventually modified to Air Ministry Class A airfield specifications, with three converging runways, extended in 1942 to lengths of 6,000 feet (runway 06-24) and 4,200 feet (runways 36-18 and 12-30). Thurleigh was unique among bomber bases in having four T2 type metal hangars where most bases had only two.

Its first use was by No.160 Squadron RAF, forming on 15 January 1942, equipped with U.S. manufactured B-24 "Liberator" bombers, known by the RAF as the "Liberator II". 160 Squadron trained and flew operational missions from Thurleigh until 5 July, then deployed to the China-Burma-India Theater at Ratmalana Air Base, Ceylon.

Thurleigh was one of 28 fields listed for use by the U.S. Eighth Air Force on June 4, 1942, tentatively designated station B-4, and was allocated on August 10, 1942. The RAF had found that the initial construction of Thurleigh was inadequate for the combat weight of B-24 bombers. After the departure of the RAF, Thurleigh's runways were lengthened, increased in thickness, and additional hardstands constructed to Class A standards so it could accommodate a USAAF heavy bomber group.
From 16 September 1943 though 25 June 1945, Thurleigh served as headquarters for the 40th Combat Bombardment Wing of the 1st Bomb Division.



 

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