Sub-sub-fonds - 3rd Strategic Air Depot (Watton)

Photographs of Griston church and Watton airfield Group photographs, roster of officers and Quidenham memorial Spitzer, Jay

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3rd Strategic Air Depot (Watton)


  • 1943-1945 (Creation)

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25 photographs; 5 papers; 1 volume

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Administrative history

The 3rd Strategic Air Depot was one of four depots established under the Bradley Plan (a report by Maj. Gen. Follett Bradley on the build-up of the Army Air Force in Britain, which advocated that Eighth Bomber Command should be built-up to maximum strength to pursue the strategic bombardment of Germany). Initially, it was based at RAF Watton, which it shared with the RAF. In October 1943, as more American personnel arrived, the RAF handed over the base to the United States Army Air Force (USAAF) and it became Army Air Force Station no. 505. Later, a large complex was built at Griston to accommodate the influx of American personnel in the Depot and the main Watton site was then used by the 25th Bomb Group (a reconnaissance unit). The 3rd Strategic Air Depot contained about 4, 800 officers and men. It was responsible for servicing, repairing and modifying all B-24 Liberator aeroplanes in the 2nd Air Division. The Depot also recovered crashed B-24s from any location in the United Kingdom and ran other supply functions for the 2nd Air Division.
Field Engineering was a division of the 3rd Strategic Air Depot located at RAF Watton (Army Air Force Station no. 505). Whenever a B-24 crashed, or made an emergency landing away from its home station, it was turned over to Eighth Air Force Service Command and a trained inspector was sent to inspect the aircraft. Aircraft could be classified by Field Engineering as repairable, E1 (salvage for parts) or E2 (complete salvage). If an aircraft was classified as repairable, a crew of eight to ten trained men were sent to the crash site to get the aircraft airworthy. An aircraft had to be repaired within 30 days. Of the 1318 aircraft inspected, 602 were salvaged and 716 repaired.

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This section contains records relating to the work of the 3rd Strategic Air Depot, including information about the aircraft salvage work of Field Engineering. Includes photographs of personnel and Watton airfield where the Air Depot was based.

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Publication note

Select Bibliography:
For a brief online history of the 3rd Strategic Air Depot, Watton, on which the above administrative history has been based, see
For information on Field Engineering, see also '2nd Air Division B-24 Liberators serviced by 8th Air Force Service Command, 3rd Strategic Air Depot' (1992). For a copy, see MC 376/303, USF 18/1.

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