Spotlight On… Nuthampstead Air Museum

Nuthampstead was commissioned by the USAAF in 1942, to the standard bomber field specification, with a completion date of 1st April 1943.

B17 Flying Fortress

The airfield itself was built on Scales Park, which was land owned by Baron Dimsdale, with the majority of the camp situated to the west, in and around Nuthampstead village. Local people remember the Americans felling the forest using chains drawn between 2 bulldozers and the ground being ‘levelled overnight’.

Construction was undertaken by the 814th and 830th US Engineer (Aviation) Battalions, with the 1st Battalion of the 346th Engineer Regiment assisting in the final stages. The base was handed over, whilst still under construction, to the USAAF in August 1942. Official dedication ceremonies were held on 17th June 1943, when the based was formally named Station 131. It was estimated at the time that approximately 3,000,000 square feet of concrete was used to construct the 6,107 feet main runway, two 4,200 feet runways plus 54,000 feet of taxiing space.

Although built to host Bomb Group, the first inhabitants were members of the 55th Fighter Group, who arrived on 16th September 1943. The 55th were equipped with the P-38 Lightning fighter and have the distinction of being the first USAAF aircraft over Berlin on 3rd March 1944. Shortly after midnight on 19th February 1944, Station 131 was attacked by bombers of the Luftwaffe. The air base was a target of opportunity. One 250kg bomb (550 pounds) exploded on a corner of the field, leaving a large crater. Several small incendiary bombs were dropped too, all without casualties or damage.

The 398th flew its first combat mission on 6th May and completed a total of 195 missions during the next 12 Months. The group completed its final operation on 25th April 1945 when the Skoda plant at Pilsen in Czechoslavakia was attacked. Whilst the 398th were at Nuthampstead, the famous Glenn Miller Orchestra visited on 2nd October 1944 and played to the servicemen and women from one of the T2 hangers on the airfield.

Towards the end of May 1945 the B-17 crews left to fly back to the States and the ground crew left Nuthampstead on 22nd June.

The purpose of the Nuthampstead Airfield Museum is to provide a facility for public education on the subjects of 8th Air Force 398th Bomb Group and the 55th Fighter Group and attached units, and of these organisations activities and roles in the national defense.. Our aims are to do this through programs of collections, exhibition, interpretation, conservation, restoration, education, research, reference and publication.

The Museum will be open every second and last Sunday of the month between 10am & 4pm until September.

01638 718427
Nuthampstead SG8 8NB
Behind the Woodman Inn