Air Force Bases

Royal Air Force Station Bentwaters

Location: Located 85 miles northeast of London, 10 miles east-northeast of Ipswich, England.

Origin of current name: Named after a house, "Bentwaters," originally located on the site of the base's main runway.

Date current name was assigned to base: December 18, 1955

Previous Names: RAF Butley, AAF Stn 151, c. 1942; Bentwaters RAF Stn, 28 Jan 1943; Bentwaters RAF, 16 Mar 1955.

Date Established: March 16, 1951

Date Occupied: March 16, 1951

Construction Began: January 1, 1951

Base Units: 7506th Air Spt Gp, 16 Mar 1951; 81st AB (rdsgd 81st Spt; 81st Cmbt Spt) Gp, 5 Sep 1951-.

Changes in Capability: Base became operational under RAF Bomber Command and transferred to No. 11 Group RAF Fighter Command on 22 Nov 1944; USAAF fighters flew escort missions for RAF Bomber Command beginning 4 May 1945; RAF training base from end of World War II to 26 Aug 1949; inactive from 1 Sep 1949 to 30 Jun 1950, when Bentwaters was placed in caretaker status prior to transfer from RAF to USAF; assigned to USAF control on 16 Mar 1951; designated a primary installation of HQ USAFE on 7 Sep 1951; supported fighter-bomber and later tactical fighter operations of the 81st Wg 5 Sep 1951 to the present; HQ USAFE operated RAF Bentwaters and Woodbridge as "twin bases" after 8 Jul 1958; RAF Bentwaters supported aircraft from RAF Woodbridge when Woodbridge closed its runways for major repairs, 5 Nov-5 Dec 1958; eight Victor Alert aircraft shelters and eight periodic maintenance docks constructed, 1958-1960; taxiways resealed, a new wing added to base dependent school, and 12 family housing units built, 1960-1962; medical warehouse, EES (EUCOM Exchange Service) facility, and ammunition storage facility constructed and security fencing erected around all aircraft parking areas, 1966-1967; base theater completed in 1969; Ready Crew facility and a 50,000-barrel jet fuel storage facility constructed 1970-1972; Victor Alert bypass taxiway, base supply management facility, and base rescue service hangar built, 1972-1974; base commissary addition constructed, base clinic renovated, taxiway lighting renovated, BAK-13 aircraft arrester barriers installed, and base fire fighting facilities modernized, 1974-1975; 14 TAB VEE aircraft shelters, a parachute building, and clinic constructed, 1977-1978; 22 TAB VEE aircraft shelters erected and entire airfield paved, 1979; a parallel taxiway, 8,200-ft long, a 300-unit housing project "Rendelsham Park," and a fuel system maintenance dock constructed 1980-1981; airmen's dining hall, a new dormitory, and additional POL storage facilities built in 1982.

Changes in Status: Caretaker status on 17 Apr 1944; operational, 22 Nov 1944; inactivated on 1 Sep 1949; caretaker status 1 Jul 1950; activated, and transferred to HQ USAFE on 16 Mar 1951; opened as primary installation of USAFE on 7 Sep 1951. Closed July 1 1993.

Base was Decommissioned on July 1, 1993


With the handover of Bentwaters back to the UK Ministry of Defence in 1993, the facility was closed. It is now known as "Bentwaters Parks".

It was used by the RAF during World War II, and by the United States Air Force during the Cold War, being the primary home for the 81st Fighter Wing under various designations from 1951 to 1993. For many years the 81st Fighter Wing also operated RAF Woodbridge, with Bentwaters and Woodbridge being known as the "Twin Bases".

Bentwaters is also known as the location for the alleged December 1980 UFO incident in Rendlesham Forest.