Ground Crew, 2nd Strategic Air Depot, Abbots Ripton

Ground Crew, 2nd Strategic Air Depot, Abbots Ripton

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Ground Crew, 2nd Strategic Air Depot, Abbots Ripton

This picture shows some of the Ground Crew at the 2nd Strategic Air Depot, Abbots Ripton, where B-17 bombers of the 1st Air Division were repaired and maintained.

This picture shows: Robert S. Tucker Sr., Benny J. Hangartner, John “Mac” McDonough (S. Boston), James G. “Yo-Yo Jimmy So” So, Vernon A. Hubbard, Oscar Nybaken, Jack “Pap” Papesh, Donald G. “DG” “Flicka” Fleig, Albert W. “Art” Hill, Clint West, Richard E. Roberts, James A. Beavers, Eugene Gifford, Thomas Little, James Kelly, Nat Davis, Chuck Noble, Daniel F. Harmon, Donald G. Hoffman, John May, Elmer Steinrich, Clarence Atkins, Ralph Nolan. U. M. Olives, James C. Lingon, Nino Sperandio, George W. Cofneld (NYC), Ray E. Vickers, L. O. Burke, Roy N. Jones, _Locksted, _McKee, _Coyle, _Edwards, _Woodburn

Pictures provided by Sgt. Robert S. Tucker Sr. (Member of: The American Air Museum in Britain {Duxford} ).
Robert S. WWII Photo Book, Mighty 8th. AF, Ground Crew

561st Weapons Squadron

The 561st Weapons Squadron is a United States Air Force squadron assigned to the USAF Weapons School at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada. The squadron was the last United States Air Force unit to fly the McDonnell F-4 Phantom II on operational missions. The last Republic F-105 Thunderchief shot down in the Vietnam War was from the 561st.

The squadron was originally activated during World War II as the 561st Bombardment Squadron. After training in the United States, it deployed to the European Theater of Operations, where it participated in the strategic bombing campaign against Germany. The squadron was twice awarded the Distinguished Unit Citation for its combat actions. Following V-E Day, it returned to the United States and was inactivated. The squadron was briefly active in the reserve in the late 1940s, but does not appear to have been fully manned or equipped.

The squadron was redesignated the 561st Fighter-Bomber Squadron and activated in 1953. It moved to Europe, but was inactivated in 1957, when it was replaced by another unit. It was activated again as the 561st Tactical Fighter Squadron in 1962. It conducted frequent deployments, but focused on training pilots for operations in Southeast Asia. Elements of the squadron participated in combat there, although the squadron remained in the United States. From 1973, it conducted Wild Weasel training. It deployed crews and planes to Southwest Asia during Desert Storm and maintained elements there until inactivating in 1996. It was activated in its current role in 2007.


The 561st provides information on tactical lessons learned and current tactics, techniques and procedures to ensure that training contributes to increased readiness and. It is the focal point for a process that collects, vets, disseminates, and integrates relevant and timely information and is a central source for current tactical doctrine and tactical resources. [4]

World War II Edit

Initial training and deployment Edit

The 561st was first activated as the 561st Bombardment Squadron at Gowen Field, Idaho, one of the four original squadrons of the 388th Bombardment Group, in December 1942. [1] [5] The cadre that formed at Gowen moved to Wendover Field, Utah in February 1943, where the unit was fully manned and squadron training with Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress heavy bombers began. Training continued until June 1943, when it deployed to England. The air echelon ferried its B-17s to England via the northern ferry route, while the ground echelon departed for Camp Kilmer, New Jersey, the port of embarkation, sailing in the RMS Queen Elizabeth on 1 July. [6]

Combat in Europe Edit

The squadron assembled at RAF Knettishall, its combat station, and flew its first combat mission on 17 July, when it attacked an aircraft factory in Amsterdam. The squadron primarily engaged in the strategic bombing campaign against Germany, attacking industrial sites, oil refineries and storage facilities, communications centers and naval targets on the European Continent. [5]

The squadron was awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation (DUC) for attacking an aircraft factory at Regensburg, Germany, on 17 August 1943, withstanding heavy resistance to reach the target. It was awarded a second DUC for three separate missions: an earlier attack on a tire and rubber factory in Hanover, Germany on 26 July 1943 and two missions in 1944, one against synthetic oil refineries near Brüx, Germany [note 6] on 12 May and at Ruhland, Germany on 21 June. This last attack was on a shuttle bombing mission from England to Germany to Poltava, USSR, [note 7] to Foggia, Italy, and back to England. [5] Other strategic targets included aircraft factories at Brunswick, Kassel, and Reims airfields at Paris, Berlin and in Bordeaux naval installations at Emden, Kiel and La Pallice, chemical works in Ludwigshafen ball bearing factories at Schweinfurt and rail marshalling yards in Bielefeld, Brussels, and Osnabruck. [5]

The squadron was occasionally diverted from the strategic campaign to perform air support and interdiction missions. It attacked military installations in France in early 1944 to help prepare the way for Operation Overlord, the invasion of Normandy, and on D Day hit coastal defenses, artillery batteries and transportation targets. It attacked troop concentrations and supply depots. In July 1944, it supported Operation Cobra at Saint Lo and the following month attacked targets in Caen. It struck military installations and airfields near Arnhem during Operation Market Garden, the unsuccessful attempt to secure a bridgehead across the Rhine in the Netherlands. It attacked transportation targets to support the final drive through Germany in early 1945. [5]

Return and inactivation Edit

The squadron flew its last combat mission in April 1945. After V-E Day, the squadron flew missions to the Netherlands to drop food in flooded areas. It then began redeploying to the United States. Its aircraft left Knettishall between 9 June and 5 July 1945. The ground echelon sailed again on the Queen Elizabeth on 5 August. The squadron inactivated at Sioux Falls Army Air Field, South Dakota on 28 August 1945. [1] [5] [6]

Air reserve Edit

The squadron was activated in the reserves at Orchard Place Airport, Illinois on 12 June 1947 and assigned to the 338th Bombardment Group. [1] [7] The squadron trained under the supervision of Air Defense Command (ADC)'s 141st AAF Base Unit (Reserve Training) (later the 2471st Air Force Reserve Flying Training Center), although it does not appear that it was fully manned or equipped. [8]

In July 1948 Continental Air Command (ConAC) assumed responsibility for managing reserve and Air National Guard units from ADC. [9] ConAC moved the squadron to General Mitchell Field, Wisconsin in September 1948. The 561st was inactivated when President Truman's reduced 1949 defense budget required reductions in the number of units in the Air Force, [10] With the squadron's inactivation reserve flying operations at Mitchell ended until 1952, when the 438th Troop Carrier Wing was activated there. [1] [11]

Fighter operations in Europe Edit

The squadron was redesignated the 561st Fighter-Bomber Squadron and activated at Clovis Air Force Base, New Mexico in November 1953. [1] The squadron was equipped with North American F-86F Sabres, with a capability of carrying nuclear weapons. [12] A year after activation, in November 1954, the squadron was transferred to United States Air Forces Europe and departed, along with other elements of the 388th Fighter-Bomber Wing, for Étain-Rouvres Air Base, France. However, construction at Etain was not far enough advanced to permit it to accept fighter aircraft, and only the wing headquarters settled in to the base. [13] [14] Instead, the squadron ferried their Sabres to Hahn Air Base, Germany, arriving the following month. [1] [15]

Little flying was done in the squadron's first winter in Europe due to weather. It deployed to Wheelus Air Base, Libya in April 1955, where it was able to train in gunnery and bombing for the first time since arriving in Europe. The squadron was the last of the wing's operational units to rejoin the wing at its permanent base in France. Starting in November 1955, the squadron provided support for Detachment 1 of the 388th Wing at Hahn, and deployed there to stand nuclear alert. The detachment moved to Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany in February 1956. [16]

In August 1956, the squadron began training to convert to the North American F-100 Super Sabre. The conversion was completed by May 1957. [17] However, the squadron flew the "Hun" for less than a year. On 10 December 1957, the 49th Fighter-Bomber Wing moved from Japan on paper to replace the 388th Wing, The 561st was inactivated and its mission, personnel and aircraft transferred to the 7th Fighter-Bomber Squadron. [1] [18] [19]

F-105 fighter operations Edit

The squadron was redesignated the 561st Tactical Fighter Squadron and organized at McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas in October 1962 and assigned to the 388th Tactical Fighter Wing. In February 1964, the 388th was replaced at McConnell by the 23d Tactical Fighter Wing. [20] The 561st was equipped with the Republic F-105 Thunderchief. The squadron conducted tactical operations and training in preparation for global deployment and deployed to Yokota Air Base, Japan in 1965. After 1966, the squadron conducted replacement training in the F-105, conducting frequent deployments to George Air Force Base, California. [1] [21]

Wild Weasel operations Edit

Wild Weasel operations became the squadron's primary mission in mid-1970, when the squadron exchanged its single seat F-105s for two seat F-105G Thunderchiefs. In April 1972, the squadron established Detachment 1 at Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand and flew combat Wild Weasel missions. The detachment was discontinued in September, but crews and planes of the squadron continued to fly missions until late January 1973. The squadron was awarded the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with "V" Device and the Vietnamese Gallantry Cross with Palm for this period. [1] A plane from the 561st was the last F-105 shot down in the Vietnam War. [note 9] It was hit by a surface-to-air-missile on 16 November 1972 the crew was rescued. [22] One of the surviving aircraft from the squadron is on display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force with the 561st Squadron's markings. [23]

On 1 July 1973, the 561st moved to George Air Force Base and joined the 35th Tactical Fighter Wing. At George, the squadron mission was primarily the training of Wild Weasel crews. The squadron continued to fly the F-105G until 1980, when it began transitioning into the McDonnell F-4G Phantom II advanced Wild Weasel, completing the transition the following year. In August 1990, the Wild Weasels deployed to Sheikh Isa Air Base, Bahrain and during Operation Desert Storm flew over 2,400 sorties logging more than 8,000 combat hours. [ citation needed ] After the war, the squadron was inactivated on 30 June 1992. [1]

The squadron was activated at Nellis Air Force Base as part of the 57th Operations Group on 1 February 1993. the 561st soon deployed to Incirlik Air Base in support of Operation Provide Comfort and returned to Southwest Asia at Dhahran Air Base in Saudi Arabia, supporting Operation Southern Watch and Operation Vigilant Warrior. The 561st was also employed as an "Aggressor" squadron during RED FLAG exercises. In 1994, the 561st became the largest fighter squadron in the United States Air Force. [ citation needed ] It maintained a continuous deployment to the Middle East until inactivating in October 1996. [1]

Joint tactics Edit

The squadron was redesignated the 561st Joint Tactics Squadron and activated at Nellis in May 2007 in its current role. It was reassigned to the USAF Weapons School and renamed the 561st Weapons Squadron in July 2019. [1]


The station stands on the London Inner Ring Road at the eastern end of Euston Road, next to the junction with Pentonville Road, Gray's Inn Road and York Way, in what is now the London Borough of Camden. Immediately to the west, on the other side of Pancras Road, is St Pancras railway station. [3] Several London bus routes, including 30, 59, 73, 91, 205, 390 and 476 pass in front of or to the side of the station. [4]

King's Cross is spelled both with and without an apostrophe. King's Cross is used in signage at the Network Rail and London Underground stations, on the Tube map and on the official Network Rail webpage. [5] It rarely featured on early Underground maps, but has been consistently used on them since 1951. [6] Kings X, Kings + and London KX are abbreviations used in space-limited contexts. The National Rail station code is KGX. [7]

Early history Edit

The area of King's Cross was previously a village known as Battle Bridge which was an ancient crossing of the River Fleet, originally known as Broad Ford, later Bradford Bridge. The river flowed along what is now the west side of Pancras Road until it was rerouted underground in 1825. [8] The name "Battle Bridge" is linked to tradition that this was the site of a major battle between the Romans and the Celtic British Iceni tribe led by Boudica. According to folklore, King's Cross is the site of Boudica's final battle and some sources say she is buried under one of the platforms. [9] Platforms 9 and 10 have been suggested as possible sites. [9] [10] Boudica's ghost is also reported to haunt passages under the station, around platforms 8–10. [11]

Great Northern Railway (1850–1923) Edit

King's Cross station was built in 1851–52 as the London terminus of the Great Northern Railway (GNR), and was the fifth London terminal to be constructed. [12] It replaced a temporary station next to Maiden Lane (now York Way) that had been quickly constructed with the line's arrival in London in 1850, [13] and had opened on 7 August 1850. [14]

The station took its name from the King's Cross building, a monument to King George IV that stood in the area and was demolished in 1845. [15] Construction was on the site of a smallpox hospital.

Plans for the station were made in December 1848 under the direction of George Turnbull, resident engineer for constructing the first 20 miles (32 km) of the Great Northern Railway out of London. [16] [17] The station's detailed design was by Lewis Cubitt, the brother of Thomas Cubitt (the architect of Bloomsbury, Belgravia and Osborne House), and Sir William Cubitt (who was chief engineer of the Crystal Palace built in 1851, and consulting engineer to the Great Northern and South Eastern Railways). The design comprised two great arched train sheds, with a brick structure at the south end designed to reflect the arches behind. [18] Its main feature was a 112-foot (34 m) high clock tower that held treble, tenor and bass bells, the last of these weighing 1 ton 9 cwt (1.47 tonnes). [19] In size, it was inspired by the 200 yards (180 m) long Moscow Riding Academy of 1825, [20] leading to its built length of 268 yards (245 m). [12] [a]

The station, the biggest in England, opened on 14 October 1852. [12] Originally it had one arrival and one departure platform (today's platforms 1 and 8), and the space between was used for carriage sidings. [13] The platforms have been reconfigured several times. They were numbered 1 to 8 in 1972. [21] In 2010 the station was reconfigured again and now has 12 platforms numbered 0 - 11. [22] Suburban traffic quickly grew with the opening of stations at Hornsey in 1850, Holloway Road in 1856, Wood Green in 1859 and Seven Sisters Road (now Finsbury Park) in 1861. Midland Railway services to Leicester via Hitchin and Bedford began running from King's Cross on 1 February 1858. [23] More platforms were added in 1862 No. 2 was full-length but No. 3 was stepped into the northern end of the station. [24] In 1866, a connection was made via the Metropolitan Railway to the London, Chatham and Dover Railway at Farringdon, with goods and passenger services to South London via Herne Hill. [25] A separate suburban station to the west of the main building, housing platforms 9–11 as of 1972 [update] and known initially as "Kings Cross Main Line (Local) Station", opened in August 1875. It was followed by a connection to the Metropolitan line on 1 February 1878. [26] Two platforms (now 5 and 6) were opened on 18 December 1893 to cater for increased traffic demands. An iron footbridge was built halfway down the train shed to connect all the platforms. [27] By 1880, half the traffic at King's Cross was suburban. [28]

A significant bottleneck in the early years of operations was at Gas Works tunnel underneath the Regent's Canal immediately to the north of the station, which was built with a single up track and a single down track. Commercial traffic was further impeded by having to cross over on-level running lines to reach the goods yard. [25] Grade separation of goods traffic was achieved by constructing the skew bridge that opened in August 1877, and the second and third Gas Works tunnels opened in 1878 and 1892 respectively. [29]

On 15 September 1881, a light engine and a coal train collided near the mouth of the Copenhagen Tunnel north of the station because of a signalman's error. One person was killed and another was severely injured. [30] Bad weather contributed to occasional flooding in the tunnels. One such incident in July 1901 suspended all traffic from the station for more than four hours, which happened at no other London terminus. [31]

King's Cross sustained no damage during World War I even though large amounts of high explosives were carried to the station in passenger trains during the war. When possible, trains were parked in tunnels in the event of enemy aircraft overhead. [32]

London and North Eastern Railway (1923–1948) Edit

Kings Cross came into the ownership of the London and North Eastern Railway (LNER) following the Railways Act 1921. The LNER made improvements to various amenities, including toilets and dressing rooms underneath what is now platform 8. [33] The lines through the Gas Works tunnels were remodelled between 1922 and 1924 and improved signalling made it easier to manage the increasing number of local trains. [34]

A number of famous trains have been associated with King's Cross, such as the Flying Scotsman service to Edinburgh. [35] The Gresley A3 and later streamlined A4 Pacific steam locomotives handled express services from the 1930s until 1966. [36] The most famous of these was Mallard, which holds the world speed record for steam locomotives at 126 miles per hour (203 km/h), set in 1938. [37]

King's Cross handled large numbers of troops alongside civilian traffic during World War II. Engine shortages meant that up to 2,000 people had to be accommodated on each train. In the early hours of Sunday 11 May 1941, two 1,000 pounds (450 kg) bombs fell on the, then, platform 10 at the west side of the station, damaging a newspaper train in that platform and destroying the general offices, booking hall and a bar, and bringing down a large section of roof. Twelve people were killed. [38]

On 4 February 1945, a passenger train to Leeds and Bradford stalled in Gasworks Tunnel, ran back and was derailed in the station. Two people were killed and 25 were injured. Services were not fully restored until 23 February. [39] [40]

British Rail (1948–1996) Edit

Following nationalisation on 1 January 1948, King's Cross came under the management of British Railways' Eastern Region. Diesel services were introduced during the 1950s when steam was being phased out. All main line services were converted to diesel by June 1963. [38] Platform numbers were reorganised in 1972, to run consecutively from 1 (east) to 14 (west). The track layout was simplified in the 1970s by reusing an old flyover for freight near the Copenhagen Tunnels at Holloway, and reducing the number of running lines through the Gas Works tunnels from six to four. At the same time, electrification started with the installation of a 25 kV overhead line to cater for suburban services as part of the Great Northern Suburban Electrification project. [41] The works were completed on 3 April 1977, and electric services began running from King's Cross to Hertford, Welwyn Garden City and Royston [42] [43]

The construction of the Victoria line and its interchange at King's Cross was seen by British Rail as an opportunity to modernise the station. [44] A single-storey extension containing the main passenger concourse and ticket office, designed in house, was built at the front of the station in 1972. Although intended to be temporary, it was still standing 40 years later, obscuring the Grade I-listed façade of the original station. [45] Before the extension was built, the façade was hidden behind a small terrace of shops. The extension was demolished in late 2012, [46] revealing the Lewis Cubitt architecture. In its place, the 75,000-square-foot (7,000 m 2 ) King's Cross Square was created, and opened to the public on 26 September 2013. [47]

On 10 September 1973, a Provisional IRA bomb exploded in the booking hall at 12.24 p.m., causing extensive damage and injuring six people, some seriously. The 3 lb (1.4 kg) device was thrown without warning by a youth who escaped into the crowd and was not caught. [48]

King's Cross was a London terminus for InterCity 125 high speed services, along with Paddington. By 1982, almost all long-distance trains leaving King's Cross were 125s. The service proved to be popular, and the station saw regular queues across the concourse to board departing trains. [49]

The King's Cross fire in 1987 started in the machine room for a wooden escalator between the main line station and the London Underground station's Piccadilly line platforms. The escalator burned and much of the tube station caught fire, killing 31 people, with smoke spreading to the main line station. [50]

In 1987, British Rail proposed building a new station with four platforms for international trains through the Channel Tunnel, and four for Thameslink trains under King's Cross. After six years of design work, the plans were abandoned, and the international terminal was constructed at St Pancras. [28]

British Rail completed electrification of the East Coast Main Line to Leeds and Edinburgh between 1985 and 1991, and the current InterCity 225 rolling stock was introduced to work express services. These began service between King's Cross and Leeds on 2 October 1989, and to Edinburgh on 8 July 1991. [51] [52]

Privatisation (1996–present) Edit

Before privatisation, the King's Cross area had a reputation for run-down buildings and prostitution in front of the main entrance. There was a major clean-up during the 1990s and the station's atmosphere was much improved by the end of the decade. [28]

Following the privatisation of British Rail in 1996, express services into the station were taken over by the Great North Eastern Railway (GNER). The company refurbished the British Rail Mark 4 "Mallard" rolling stock used for long-distance services from King's Cross and the inauguration of the new-look trains took place in the presence of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh in 2003. [53]

GNER successfully re-bid for the franchise in 2005 but surrendered it the following year. [54] National Express East Coast took over the franchise in late 2007 after an interim period when trains ran under a management contract. [55] In 2009, it was announced that National Express was no longer willing to finance the East Coast subsidiary, and the franchise was taken back into public ownership and handed over to East Coast in November. [56] In March 2015 the franchise was re-privatised and taken over by Virgin Trains East Coast. [57] In November 2017, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling announced the early termination of the East Coast franchise in 2020, three years ahead of schedule, following losses on the route by the operator. The current provider of ECML services is London North Eastern Railway. [58] [59]

Restoration Edit

The £500 million restoration plan announced by Network Rail in 2005 was approved by Camden London Borough Council in 2007. [61] It involved restoring and reglazing the original arched train shed roof and removing the 1972 extension at the front of the station and replacing it with an open-air plaza. [60] [62]

The new semi-circular departures concourse opened to the public in March 2012. [63] [64] Situated to the west of the station behind the Great Northern Hotel, it was designed by John McAslan and built by Vinci. [65] It caters for much-increased passenger flows and provides greater integration between the intercity, suburban and underground sections of the station. The architect claimed that the roof is the longest single-span station structure in Europe and the semi-circular structure has a radius of 59 yards (54 m) and more than 2,000 triangular roof panels, half of which are glass. [60]

Land between and behind Kings Cross and St Pancras stations is being redeveloped as King's Cross Central with around 2,000 new homes, 5,000,000 sq ft (464,500 m 2 ) of offices and new roads. [66] In the restoration, refurbished offices have opened on the east side of the station to replace ones lost on the west side, and a new platform, numbered 0, opened underneath them on 20 May 2010. [67] Diesel trains cannot normally use this platform for environmental reasons. [68] The restoration project was awarded a European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Award in 2013. [69] [70]

In May 2016, the Office of Rail Regulation approved a new operator, East Coast Trains, to operate services to Edinburgh Waverley via Stevenage, Newcastle and Morpeth. The service is expected to start in 2021. [71] [72] [73]

Future Remodelling Edit

In January 2018, it was announced that half the station would close for 3 months from January to March 2020 for remodelling work to the station and its approach, expected to cost £237 million. This includes rationalisation of the tracks, reopening the third tunnel to the approach of the station and closure of platform 10. [74]

Accidents and incidents Edit

There have been many accidents at King's Cross over the years. The most serious were the King's Cross railway accident on 4 February 1945 which killed two people and injured 25 [39] [40] and a collision in Gasworks Tunnel on 15 September 1881 which killed one person and seriously injured another. [30] The most recent was on 17 September 2015 when a passenger train collided with the buffer stops, injuring fourteen people. [75] [76]

On 5 November 1979, Martin Allen was seen saying goodbye to his friends at King's Cross. He set off in the direction of the Piccadilly line platform, but he was never seen again. [77] The station is also where Andrew Gosden was last seen before going missing on 14 September 2007. He had caught a train there from Doncaster under controversial and unexplained circumstances. [78]

King's Cross York Road Edit

From 1863, part of King's Cross was an intermediate station. On the extreme east of the site, King's Cross York Road station was served by suburban trains from Finsbury Park before they followed the sharply curved and steeply graded York Road Tunnel to join the City Widened Lines to Farringdon, Barbican and Moorgate. In the other direction, trains from Moorgate came off the Widened Lines via the Hotel Curve, [23] to platform 16 (latterly renumbered 14) which rose to the main line level. Services to and from Moorgate were diverted via the Northern City Line from November 1976. The station remained in occasional use until it was completely closed on 5 March 1977. [79]

Great Northern Cemetery Station Edit

The Great Northern Cemetery Station was built just to the east of the northern portal to Gasworks Tunnel, some distance to the north of the main station, to transport coffins and mourners from the city to the burial grounds at New Southgate Cemetery. The station opened in 1861 but was never profitable and closed in 1873. [80]

Watch the video: Aircraft u0026 Wounded Air Crew 1944 (June 2022).


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