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Kelstern was situated just to the north of the small Wolds village after which it was named. In WWI an emergency landing ground was located south-west of the later WWII airfield. The existence of this no doubt prompted surveyors to return as the RAF expanded in the 1930s. Kelstern was constructed to Class ‘A’ standard with three intersecting runways of the usual length and width. Three hangars were provided, initially two T2s, one located on the south-eastern perimeter track and the other on the technical side to the north-west. Later, a B1 hangar was constructed off the northern perimeter track. Communal and accommodation sites were disperesed in fields behind the technical site. The bomb stores were located to the south-east of the airfield.

The airfield was allocated to 1 Group and opened in September 1943. On 1 October, 625 Squadron formed from ‘C’ Flight, 100 Squadron and operated from the airfield until 5 April 1945 when they moved to Scampton. Whilst at Kelstern, ‘C’ Flight of 625 Squadron became the reformed 170 Squadron on 15 October 1944 moving to Dunholme Lodge on 22 October.

An interesting experiment took place at Kelstern in early 1945. Due to the larger wingspan of the forthcoming Avro Lincoln, there was no way of getting the aircraft into a T2 hangar, at least not in the conventional way, Tram tracks from Grimsby, were transported to Kelstern and laid leading into T2 hangar on the technical side. One of the Lincoln prototypes was flown in and mounted onto a special trolley placed on the tram tracks. The aircraft was then dragged into the hangar sideways! It worked, but was clearly an expensive and time-consuming process and was not adopted by the RAF.

The tram tracks can still be seen at Kelstern. The hangar itself has gone but the base remains and a few feet of track can be seen disappearing inside. A few buildings also exist on the technical side and fragments of perimeter track and runway are also evident. On the crossroads north of the village, adjacent to the former airfield stands a memorial to 625 Squadron.


Map: Kelstern

Aviation Heritage Lincolnshire –  2013-2017