Between 1958 and 1963, RAF Hemswell was a base for American "Thor" missiles which were installed to the north of the air field, having been delivered by giant C-124 and C-133 aircraft. The missiles were based at five dispersal sites, all reporting to a central headquarters. The Lincolnshire headquarters was at Hemswell, with the dispersals at Bardney, Caistor, Coleby Grange and Ludford.
Thor was deployed at four main bases: Driffield, Hemswell, Feltwell and North Luffenham. Surrounding each main base were four satellite stations, with missiles deployed at each location in groups of three.
Hemswell Cliff was first used in 1916 as a night landing ground for The Royal Flying Corps but closed in 1919 after hostilities ended. Royal Air Force Station Hemswell was re-opened, after a major building programme, on 31st December 1936, flying Hawker Hind, Hawker Audax, Avro Anson, Blenheim and Boulton Paul Overstrand aircraft in the early days.
During the second world war the station had undertaken a variety operational tasks including bombing raids throughout Europe and against enemy shipping plus acting as a training and conversation center. In 1939 Hampdens were introduced with the station flying its first operation sortie of the 2nd World War on 26th September 1939 against enemy shipping. The station with its now resident Polish squadrons was re equipped with Wellington bombers in 1941. Lancaster heavy bombers arrived in 1943 and a "production line" was set up to fit rear turrets, manufactured by Rose Bros. of Gainsborough, to all Lancasters.
After the war a variety of aircraft were stationed including Mosquito, Lincoln and Canberra, and various roles were undertaken including ex-prisoner-of-war repatriation, the dropping of food supplies, goodwill visits, electronic counter measures, nuclear air sampling etc.
Preparations were made to receive the ill fated and costly TSR2, which was canceled in 1965. Thereafter recruit training and gliding took place before the station was put on care and maintenance in about 1967. In 1972, the station was re-activated to receive the Ugandan Asians displaced by President Idi Amin.
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