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A special look back to London Stansted airport in the 40s and 50s

PUBLISHED: 05:58 16 November 2018

B-26 Marauder at Stansted  Picture: LONDON STANSTED AIRPORT

B-26 Marauder at Stansted Picture: LONDON STANSTED AIRPORT

We rewind the clock on London Stansted Airport this week as we take a look at the UK’s fourth busiest airport back in the 1940s and 50s, when it was a base to the US Air Force.

Stansted began life as a American Airforce Second World War base in 1943  Picture: LONDON STANSTED AIRPORTStansted began life as a American Airforce Second World War base in 1943 Picture: LONDON STANSTED AIRPORT

The decision was taken by the British government and American military in 1942 to build a US Air Force base at Stansted.

A converted wartime Nissen hut served as the terminal building in the 50s  Picture: LONDON STANSTED AIRPORTA converted wartime Nissen hut served as the terminal building in the 50s Picture: LONDON STANSTED AIRPORT

In 1944 the airfield became fully operational but had an unexpected arrival in 1943 from a battle-damaged RAF Short Sterling bomber.

Stansted was home to the USAAF Eighth Air Force  Picture: LONDON STANSTED AIRPORTStansted was home to the USAAF Eighth Air Force Picture: LONDON STANSTED AIRPORT

Stansted soon became the 9th largest US Air Force base in East Anglia and became home to the 344th Bomb group, known as the ‘Silver Streaks’ consisting of four squadrons of B-26 Marauder bombers.

344th Bomb Group at Stansted during WWII  Picture: LONDON STANSTED AIRPORT344th Bomb Group at Stansted during WWII Picture: LONDON STANSTED AIRPORT

D-Day saw the Stansted bombers leading 600 aircraft over the beaches of France to attack enemy positions. In July 1944 the bomb group received a Distinguished Unit Citation for three days of intense action supporting the allied invasion.

Officers relax outside a wartime hut  Picture: LONDON STANSTED AIRPORTOfficers relax outside a wartime hut Picture: LONDON STANSTED AIRPORT

By August 1945, the US forces had moved out but they returned in the 1950s to strengthen and extend the runway, leaving the airport with what remains to this day, one of the UK’s longest runways.

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