361st Fighter Group, Bottisham, Cambridgeshire

After the American entry into the war, Bottisham, three miles from Cambridge, was taken over by the 361st Fighter Group. It played a vital part in the Eighth Air Force’s campaign by escorting bombers on daylight missions into occupied Europe. Bottisham Air Museum is also devoted to the RAF and Belgian Air Forces.

361st Fighter Group, Bottisham, Cambridgeshire

BOTTISHAM AIRFIELD

The RAF prepared Bottisham for its American tenants during 1943. In December of that year the 361st Fighter Group moved in. Comprising three fighter squadrons, their task was to escort bombers on raids into occupied Europe and Germany and carry out ground raids of their own.

361st Fighter Group, Bottisham, Cambridgeshire

P-51 MUSTANG

Initially flying the P-47 Thunderbolt, the pilots were thrown into the war against the Luftwaffe from January, 1944. Their task was eased when they were equipped with P-51 Mustang, which had a longer range, and thus they could give the bombers more cover.

361st Fighter Group, Bottisham, Cambridgeshire

LITTLE WALDEN AIRFIELD

By the time the Group moved on to Little Walden, Essex, at the end of September, 1944, they had completed 214 missions. A total of 148 enemy aircraft had been destroyed in the air, and 86 on the ground at the cost of 39 pilots, including the Group’s Commanding Officer.

ABOUT THE MUSEUM

It was opened in 2009 to commemorate the role of the airfield, and make people aware of its story. The museum operates out of the last surviving buildings in the original perimeter. Purchase was completed in 2014, and a team of volunteers has taken on “the huge task of restoring them to their original appearance, but also modernising them as required to enable us to store items safely”.

The aim is to collect, restore, conserve and display wartime artefacts, and also to reach out to families, tourists, service personnel, veterans and school groups. Plans are afoot to apply to the Heritage Lottery Fun for a substantial grant.

www.bottishamairfieldmuseum.org.uk

361st Fighter Group, Bottisham, Cambridgeshire

361ST FIGHTER GROUP, BOTTISHAM AIRFIELD MUSEUM

Wilbraham Road
Bottisham
Cambridgeshire
CB25 9BU

Mobile: 07791 971 799

Check the website for news on opening times and regular events.