B-17 Liberty Belle visits Bentwaters
Linn Barringer 11 July 2008
The Liberty Belle is a second world war Boeing B-17 bomber, known to many as the "Flying Fortress," powered by four 9-cylinder 1,200 horsepower radial engines, defended with 13 machine guns, and carrying 8,000lbs of bombs. (more detailed B-17G specs here).
This particular historic aircraft has had a varied life - from being in storage, sold for scrap, then an engine test-bed, and seriously damaged in a tornado and finally being restored in a six-year project ending in 1987.*
Liberty Belle is making a European Tour during 2008. Early July, this historic B-17 landed somewhat secretly at the former RAF Bentwaters, prior to running flypasts at Debach and other WW2 air base locations Suffolk.
Background and to the trip and flight log of iberty Belle's European Tour.
* On September 9, 1944 the 390th Bomb Group attacked a target in Dusseldorf, Germany and suffered its second largest single mission loss of the war. Over the target just prior to bomb release, one of the low squadron B-17s was hit in the Bomb bay by flak. The 1000 lb. bombs exploded and nine of the twelve aircraft in the squadron were instantly destroyed or knocked out of formation.
Six of the nine went down over the target, one flew two hours on a single engine and landed at Paris, another "crippled plane" landed in Belgium and the other struggled back to its home base and landed long after the other thirty nine B-17s had returned from the mission. The one that came home was "Liberty Belle", she went on to complete 64 combat missions before being salvaged on February 18, 1945.
Source: Liberty Belle Foundation
Maharishi Foundation returns to Bentwaters
19 December 2007 - based on an article by Richard Smith, East Anglian Daily Times
The transcendental meditation and Yogic flying group failed to buy the base in 1995, when they planned to build a University of Natural Law. But they have returned to the domestic site to build their estate "The Maharishi Garden Village" near the Angel Theatre.
There are 30 homes ranging from apartments up to six bedrooms and more than £400,000. Now they plan to build a "peace palace" on land nearby, to be a home for Maharashi teaching, including the Invincibility School. Plans for the £2 million building will be submitted to Suffolk Coastal District Council next year.
The group also wants to build another 70 homes and bring "peace and prosperity" to east Suffolk. They want to explore the possibility of bringing the Vedic architecture into offices to make work environments more comfortable and productive.
Bentwaters Cold War Museum, Rendlesham, on the site of RAF Bentwaters
The Bentwaters Cold War Museum (BCWM) is housed in a command post or bunker on what was the USAF air base at RAF Bentwaters, and is believed to be the only museum of its kind, open to the public.
BCWM is within the Bentwaters Parks business park, just off the A1152 at Rendlesham.This interactive map and aerial photo shows the exact location.
The museum was opened and dedicated in May 2007 by The High Sheriff of Suffolk, Air Marshal Sir Richard John Kemball, KCB, CBE, and by Major General Dale C. Tabor, USAF (Retd.).
Planned public opening times are listed on the BCWM website.
Details and photographs of the Opening Ceremonies, click here.
Richard Smith, writing in the East Anglian Daily Times, reports that he Infinity company has lodged plans with Suffolk Coastal District Council to use the WSA hardened facilities for the storage of confidential commercial material.
The company wants to increase the security to "Government List X standards" by adding a third wire fence and an anti-vehicle barrier between fence one and two. The area would also be visually screened by further landscaping around the WSA.
Hundreds of thousands of pounds would be spent on adapting the shelters, providing new electrical substations and standby generators.
The company would need to recruit between 20 and 30 personnel to operate the re-vitalized secure facility.
TV programme by Zeppotron (an Endemol company)
First, if you're not aware of the Space Cadets programme, read what the makers of the show have to say...
The location of RAF Bentwaters as the site for the filming of Space Cadets could hardly be kept secret with Johnny Vaughan continually referring to "a USAF air base a stone's throw from Ipswich" - he even gave a great plug for the breakfast at Jay's Cafe!
Here are some quick links to the major Space Cadets filming sites on Bentwaters:
1. The Hush House is the location of the Space Orbiter (Shuttle) simulator.
Images 10 to 16 on this page.
Another great image is on Alan Turnbull's Secret Bases web site...
2. The filming of the arrival at "STAR" was filmed at the entrance to the WSA (Weapons Storage Area) - "weapons" meaning nuclear bombs, with all the appropriate security of electric gates and so on. See Tim Egercic's report.
3. The building where the Space Cadets trained is one known locally as "the star wars building" and is shown on this image, just right of centre, surrounded by pine woods.
It is also on this page, the first photo under the heading Dispersal.
4. Tthe "STAR" command centre will also be shown in Space Cadets, represented by the real Wing Operations Centre, on this page.
And on this page, where photos 3a onward are the building in 1998 (and photos 10-16 are the interior of the Hush House.)
For me, there was a very brief "this is not Russia" give-away image during the arrival, when the bus drove past and briefly illuminated some WW2 Nissen huts. They are shown here.
There may be other images on the site. Have a look around!
2002 News of the Twin Bases
by L J Barringer
The disused air base of former RAF Bentwaters was used for most of the autumn 2002 series of the TV Channel 4 weekly motoring programme "Driven."
The runway and taxiways were used for filming performance cars in action. Most of the interior shots, where invited public reviewed competitive cars, had a most unusual background - they were taken inside the Hush House, with the 'muffler' disappearing into the back of most shots.
The "car Sumo" competition was filmed right outside the Hush House and the "Pallett Racing" was filmed along the taxiway in front of the brown hangars of the Phase Inspection area.
17 August 2002, L J Barringer
Around 1000 people attended the Hangar Dance organized by Sarah Kemball.
Full report in the Reunion section, because that's what it was, really.