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RAF IRBM Driffield

Last modified: 28 Jul 2019, submitted by: Joker

Country: United Kingdom    Region: Yorkshire

Latitude: 53° 59' 52" N     Longitude: -1° 31' 39" E

Area use / Military Branches: Closed


WW2 airfield converted into a Thor IRBM base
Former RAF Driffield was home of III Strategic Missile Group (SMG) and 98 Strategic Missile Sqn (SMS) and ops 1959 - 964.

Construction of Thor missile facilities started 1957 in the eastern part of the UK; a natural choice due to the availability of many former WW2 airfields which might be used. A total of 60 Thor IRBMs was operated by RAF Bomber Command personnel; control of the nuclear warheads however remained with USAF personnel detached at each base.

Thor IRBM force consisted of 4 bases (I IV Strategic Missile Groups) hosting the SMG Hq and sometimes also an operational missile sqn. Each SMG controlled 4 or 5 SMS at dispersed locations to counter elimination in case of surprise attacks.Each SMS was equipped with 3 msl launchers. Peacetime ops status was guaranteed by a rotating schedule used by all SMGs. Tthis implied that each SMG always maintained 2 SMS at 15 min. alert status so that RAF Bomber Cmd always had 24 missiles at its disposal. The only known time that all SMS were brought at full alert was during the Cuban Crisis in 1962.

The III SMG squadrons were 98 SMS at Driffield; 102 SMS Full Sutton; 150 SMS Carnaby; 226 SMS Catfoss and 240 SMS Breighton.
Driffield Thor imaging vids

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