RAF Marham

Opened in August 1916 close to the former Royal Naval Air Station Narborough, later RAF Narborough, the Marham base was originally a military night landing ground on an 80-acre (320,000 m2) site within the boundary of the present day RAF Marham. In 1916, the aerodrome was handed over to the Royal Flying Corps (RFC). Throughout the First World War, Marham’s role was focused on defending Norfolk from Zeppelin raids

In the first half of 1935, work started on a new airfield which became active on 1 April 1937, with a resident heavy bomber unit from within No. 3 Group, RAF Bomber Command.

The first squadron, No. 38, arrived on 5 May 1937 with Fairey Hendon bombers. In June, No. 115 Squadron re-formed at Marham with the Handley Page Harrow, initially sharing No. 38 Squadron’s Hendons until Harrow deliveries were completed in August. No. 38 Squadron received Vickers Wellington Mk. I bombers in December 1938, followed in April 1939 by No. 115 Squadron. No. 218 Squadron moved to Marham on 27 Nov 1940, also operating Wellingtons. No. 218 Squadron began conversion to the Short Stirling in December 1941 and used the type on operations from 1942. De Havilland Mosquitos from No. 105 Squadron also arrived in 1941.

During March 1944, RAF Marham closed for the construction of new concrete runways, perimeter track, and dispersal areas, marking the end of its wartime operations. The three new runways were of the familiar wartime triangular pattern, but Marham was one of only two sites built as a heavy bomber airfield (the other was nearby RAF Sculthorpe) with the runways substantially longer than the standard layout.

A Tornado and Victor, both previously stationed at RAF Marham, form Gate Guardians at the site today.

In the 1950s, the airfield was home to RAF units operating the English Electric Canberra, and later the V-bomber force and tankers: Vickers Valiant and Handley Page Victor. The station is also one of the few large enough for the operation of United States Air Force Boeing B-52 Stratofortress, and a number of these aircraft visited on exercises in the 1970s and 1980s.

RAF Marhams’s badge, awarded in October 1957 when it was home to part of the RAF V-Force, features a blue coloured bull with its head lowered and facing towards the viewer.

The bull, an animal considered to be aggressive to intruders entering its area, represented Marham’s nuclear deterrence role.

Deter

Another overhead image shows resurfacing work underway as part of RAF Marham’s recent upgrade to accept the F35B Lightning fighters. Still clearly visible are the four QRA stands which were used by V-Force aircraft during the height of Cold War tensions.

Dear Reader

Thank you for taking an interest in this article.
Did you know that Vulcan to the Sky is a charity? We rely on merchandise sales and donations from you, the supporter, to enable us to look after XH558 and tell her story.
Please help us to keep delivering articles of interest to you by donating below, or alternatively visit our Shop or see what projects we currently have on.

Related Articles

Britain’s Nuclear Deterrent Development – Part Two

On 2 August 1939, the US President, Franklin D. Roosevelt, received a letter written by Leó Szilárd, a Hungarian-German-American physicist and inventor who conceived the nuclear chain reaction in 1933 and patented the idea of a non-fission nuclear reactor in…

Britain’s Nuclear Deterrent Development – Part Six

Two weeks before the first nuclear weapon was used for warfare, dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima, the results of the UK general election were announced. On 26 July 1945, Labour had won power and Clement Attlee was appointed…

Britain’s Nuclear Deterrent Development – Part Eight

1949 – While Britain raced towards their first nuclear weapon, Russia was also advanced in their building of a nuclear device. The Soviet design was an implosion-type bomb, based on the ‘Fat Man’ device which was detonated by the US…

Cold War Stories: Red Steer – The Firebar Affair

An espionage story from 1966 – by Jim Debenham, VTST Volunteer If this were a fictional story it would have been written by none other than Ian Fleming, with James Bond as the lead character. During the heady days of…

Operation Sky Shield

Operation Sky Shield was a series of three large-scale military exercises conducted in the United States. The Cold War games were carried out by the North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD) and the Strategic Air Command (SAC) to test defences…

A personal view of the Canberra PR7 – 1959-61

I had flown the Canberra B2 for three years before converting to the Photo Reconnaissance version in 1959. The difference from a three man B2 to a two man PR7 meant that the navigator was expected to do some of…

JOIN US

Stay up to date with all of the latest news and updates

Vulcan to the Sky swoosh