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

1993 – 2007 – The Road to Restoration – Part 2

A fresh appeal was launched in March 2004 to reach the Trust’s commitment of 29% of the funding total, required before the HLF would issue a ‘Stage 2 Pass’ and release the grant. Finally, Dr Pleming and Felicity Irwin were…

First Flight of the Prototype Avro Lancaster, BT308

On 9 January 1941, Avro test pilot, Captain Harry “Sam” Brown, made the first flight of the prototype Lancaster, BT308, at RAF Ringway near Manchester. A development of the twin engine Avro Manchester, the prototype was designed by Roy Chadwick,…

The Birth of the Avro Vulcan

On Saturday 30 August 1952, history was made as Avro Type 698, VX770, took to the sky for the first time. It was the prototype for the Avro Vulcan and the birth of this iconic aircraft. While known as Type…

Why Vulcan to the Sky and XH558 matter to Doncaster – Steve Liddle

XH558 was the Royal Air Force’s last flying Vulcan, retired in 1992 and returned to the air by VTST in 2007. Until her final grounding in 2015, she was seen and enjoyed by millions. From 2011 onwards, XH558 operated from…

A View from the Ground

Our thanks to Jeremy Lewarn who recalls his time in the RAF in this detailed article. My memories of the Vulcan start from when I first joined the RAF in 1971. I’m still not sure how, but a very good recruiting…

October 2007 – Vulcan XH558 Comes to life

Vulcan XH558 had been the star of the RAF’s Vulcan Display Flight (VDF) for six years, from May 1986 to September 1992, but as a result of budget cuts the MoD decided to discontinue the VDF. She made her last flight in RAF service on 23 March 1993, when she…

JOIN US

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

Vulcan to the Sky swoosh