At its peak, Lincoln was one of the largest aircraft production areas in the world; producing over 3,500 aircraft and 3,000 aero engines. Today the city is home to the Red Arrows aerobatic display team, often practicing over Lincoln's skies, and the International Bomber Command Memorial.
During World War 1, one in fourteen of all British aricraft were built in Lincoln in plants such as the 100 acre Clayton & Shuttleworth site, Robey & Co who tested aircraft in Bracebridge Heath and Ruston, Proctor & Co (see left) who were the country's largest producer of aircraft during The Great War.
Around 6,000 people were engaged in aircraft production in Lincoln between 1915 and 1916 producing more than 3,500 aircraft during the War. Lincoln people were proud of this tradition and often displayed aircraft outside Lincoln Central Train Station to admire.
On April 1st 1916 the first military air academy in the world opened at the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) Central Training Establishment at Cranwell, near Lincoln. Flying training was 24/7 with up to 20 aircraft training at any one time.
Lincolnshire became known as Bomber County during World War 2 thanks to the RAF bases that littered the county, many surrounding Lincoln. The area's flat geography lent itself to runways and airstrips and the RAF created many bases there, including:
Most famously, Guy Gibson and the Dambusters Squadron operated out of RAF Scampton throughout the war and his office can still be seen today at the RAF Scampton Heritage Centre (see right). The famous operation took place on May 16-17 1943.
25,611 RAF personnel who were part of Bomber Command in Lincolnshire never returned from their missions and are remembered today.
The names of those who were lost are remembered in the Airmen’s Chapel at Lincoln Cathedral. Stained glass windows in the Chapel pay their own constant tribute as do the Squadron Standards, furnishings, commemorative plaques and the Bomber Command Memorial, in the form of a ledger stone, also re-enforce the connections.
The International Bomber Command Centre on the top of Canwick Hill, in Lincoln (see left) includes the UK's tallest war memorial and walls featuring each name of those who died. Peace gardens, a digital archive, exhibitions, and a cafe make the centre a great place to learn the story of Bomber Command and pay respects.
Three major RAF bases near to Lincoln are still active: RAF Scampton, RAF Waddington, and RAFC Cranwell.
RAF Scampton is famously home to, amoung others, the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, or the Red Arrows (see right). These are often seen in display over the Lincoln skies during practice runs or when returning from a tour.
RAF Waddington is a working RAF base today with aircraft flying across the world. The Waddington Airfield Viewing Enclosure (WAVE) enables you to see current aircraft operations through the year and is located off the A15 opposite the airfield.
RAF College Cranwell still provides flying training today since the base's inception as the world's first military air academy in 1916. Pilots from the RAF, RN, and Army are trained here alongside RAF Weapon Systems Operators.
Top and Red Arrows image: © Crown Copyright