- ICAO Code: X3LW
- Location: Essex, England, United Kingdom
- Type: Operational
- Parent: USAAF 8th/9th Air Forces (Station 165)
- Current Version: 1.0
- Download link: Download
- Required Libraries: IJP, IJP SODE, Larry Green USAAF Vehicles
Although the airfield at Little Walden, known to the USAAF as Station 165, is by far most commonly associated with the yellow-nosed Mustangs of the 361st Fighter Group, they were not the first operational unit, to be based there, nor were they the only fighters.
Known locally as “Hadstock”, after what is actually the nearest town to the location, Little Walden was one of the later airfields built to house USAAF units, opening in March 1944 for the 9th Air Force’s A-20s of the 409th Bombardment Group. The 409th conducted operations through from Little Walden through the period running up to and immediately after the Normandy invasion, but in September 1944, they moved to a forward location in France, at which time Little Walden became an 8th Air Force base and the 361st moved in from Bottisham, near Cambridge.
With the front constantly moving Eastwards from the Normandy beaches, the group’s aircraft moved to St. Dizier in December 1944, followed in February by the ground and command elements, leaving Little Walden deserted. This provided an opportunity, as nearby Debach was undergoing major work and was unsuitable for operations. The B-17s of the 393rd Bombardment Group therefore moved house for March 1945, before returning at the beginning of April.
No sooner had the B-17s left than their escorts were back, with the 361st’s Mustangs returning on 9th April and remaining there for the rest of the war in Europe. They were joined in September and October by the Thunderbolts of the 56th Fighter Group, who had left their base at Boxted, making Little Walden an exceptionally busy place to be.
By the second week of November 1945, Little Walden was deserted again. Both the Fighter Groups had returned to the U.S. and the RAF had control of the airfield until it was officially closed in January 1946.
That wasn’t the end of activity at Little Walden, though. Although most of the airfield site has been returned to agriculture and is discernable, but not clear, in aerial imagery, many of the technical buildings, as well as both T2 hangars, are still in use today and the control tower has been converted into a private dwelling.