Luftwaffe Bombs Force Evacuation of the Red Arrows

At the Royal Air Force base in Scrampton, Lincolnshire, there was immense fear of an explosion after Luftwaffe bombs were discovered on site. The world-class air team known as the Red Arrows evacuated the base following the discovery, and experts in bomb disposal were quickly moved to the base to investigate weaponry believed to be in excess of seventy years old.

The Red Arrows had been in heavy preparation for their fiftieth display season, but were forced to fly ten miles away to the base in Waddington while the bomb squad performed a series of controlled explosions. Or at least, that was what they thought was happening. In truth, the suspected bombs were in fact dummies, and they were not even put there by Luftwaffe forces. They had been dropped by the Royal Air Force themselves.

The dummy rounds, discovered by a ditch-digger at the base, were quite small at only three inches by six. The Royal Air Force had presumably left them there as part of a training exercise, though this much is as of yet unconfirmed.

The Red Arrows had good cause for concern, however, due to the approach of their display season. Formally known as the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, the Red Arrows have been in operation since 1965 and contain nine highly qualified volunteer members. Have appeared in shows across the globe, they would have been unable to make their display season if even just the lead pilot had been injured in an explosion at the base.

The Red Arrows are, of course, painted red. They use this color for their planes as a means for safety, given the high visibility of the color amidst the startlingly dangerous tasks their pilots must perform during a display. The color also pays tribute to former aerobatic team the Red Pelicans, but safety is of their main concern. It must be, as they change out three of their pilots annually, meaning that there are always at least three relative rookies on the Red Arrows team. Although they do not fly without their lead pilot in good health, they will occasionally fly with eight out of nine pilots if one is taken ill, the Mail Online reports.

Still, to have even a single pilot put out of commission might have forced the Red Arrows to alter their entire roster, requiring a replacement to maintain a team balanced by three rookies and three veterans of the team. By taking action to avoid even the mild (and apparently fallacious) threat of Luftwaffe explosives, the Red Arrows had taken steps to ensure that their long-standing traditions would not be uprooted.


Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE