Historic Airfields

Air Power of World War II

Bomber Planes

The Dornier 17 was one of the medium bombers that the Luftwaffe used during the Second World War but only for a short period of time. The max range for the Dornier was 721 miles and it flew at a top speed of 255 Mph. It was pulled from service after 1941 due to lack of defensive weapons and being vulnerable to attacks at the underbelly and rear of the plane. The following History Channel video gives a good idea of WWII Air Power:

The Boeing B29 Super Fortress was a heavy bomber for the United States. It was powered by 4 2,200-horsepower engines and it could either carry 16 500-lb bombs or one 2,000-lb bomb. When empty, the Super Fortress could fly at 400 mph and as high as 30,000 feet. An earlier version of the Super Fortress has a defensive armament of 10 50-caliber machine guns and each a belt of 1,000 rounds while later versions carried 20-mm cannons instead of 50-caliber machine guns. The most famous Super fortress was the Enola Gay which dropped the first atomic bomb.

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North Weald

North Weald Airfield’s History

North Weald Airfield was established in 1916 to defend the UK and in particular the greater London area, against the WW I German Bomber raids and airship attacks. So let’s check out North Weald Airfield’s History.

The following video highlights the arrival of Norwegian 331 Squadron, later followed by their 332 Squadron peers. The following is a video-edited version of the Streets Ahead Productions “North Weald Airfield/flying for freedom” DVD. The full DVD can be purchased through the company’s website.

The first squadron to be stationed at North Weald was in August 1916 the 39th Royal Flying Corps Squadron and the last was the RAF 111th Squadron which left North Weald Airfield in February of 1958. North Weald Historic Airfield stopped being an active airfield for the RAF on September 1, 1964. See also: online ged test indiana

Operational flying at North Weald came to an end 1919 but was resumed in1927 when the airfield, once again, became an operational station for RAF Fighter aircraft.

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Historic Airfields

RAF Airfields WW2 Part 4

This is RAF Airfields WW2 Part 4. Here we’ll take a look at RAF Cottesmore, situated about 30 miles east of Leicester, RAF Leuchars, located 9 miles south of Dundee in Scotland, RAF Brawdy in western Wales near St. Davids, RAF Wittering, located about 15 miles northwest of Peterborough, and RAF Swinderby, situated a few miles southwest of Lincoln. The following video shows the last day at RAF Cottesmore of the Harrier Jet Force in 2010.

RAF Cottesmore

RAF Cottesmore is situated in the county of Rutland, in the heart of the English countryside, just about some 30 miles due east of the City of Leicester. Originally a large bomber airfield, it opened during the Royal Air Force’s expansion period, late 1930’s. It was expanded in the 1950s to accommodate the Vulcan and Victor bombers, and later had a long association with Canberra’s.

RAF Cottesmore is home to all of the RAF’s Harrier GR7 squadrons as well as No. 122 Expeditionary RAF Air Wing. The station opened in March 1938 and was initially used for mainly training purposes. The squadrons stationed here flew initially Vickers Wellesley aircraft but it wasn’t long before they converted to Fairey Battles. A few years later, Bomber Command commanded the airfield and it functioned as a training station again for crew flying the Handley Page Hampden.

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Historic Airfields

RAF Airfields WW2 Part 3

So this is RAF Airfields WW2 Part 3. Here we highlight RAF St Athan, some 10 miles southwest of Cardiff, RAF Cranwell, about 18 miles south of Lincoln, and RAF Leeming which is located 25 miles south of Darlington. Please enjoy the following video of the Avro Vilcan XH-558 which was recorded some 25 years ago at the now-closed RAF Station at St Athan in South Wales.

RAF St Athan

Situated 10 miles SW of Cardiff, RAF St Athan officially opened on September 1st, 1938. The first unit to take up residence was No.4 School for Technical Training. In 1939, the station’s functions and activities expanded when a fighter group pool, a maintenance Unit, and the School for Air Navigation arrived here.

MOD (Ministry of Defence) St Athan is a pretty large site in southern Wales (in the Vale of Glamorgan) where ground engineering non-aircraft technicians of the RAF are trained. St Athan is home to No. 4 School of Technical Training that provides continued training and education. It is the school’s mission is to deliver contemporary, affordable, effective, and flexible technical training and education that meets all of the UK’s Armed Forces requirements. St Athan is additionally home to the Air Squadron of the University of Wales.

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Historic Airfields

RAF Airfields WW2 Part 2

This is the second post in which we’ll tell you more about RAF airfields used in World War 2. This post is RAF Airfields WW2 Part 2 in which we’ll take a closer look at RAF Thorney Island, RAF Church Fenton, RAF Kinloss, RAF Valley, and RAF Finningley.

RAF Thorney Island

RAF Thorney Island is a former Royal Air Force base located just over seven miles east of the City of Portsmouth, Hampshire, on England’s southern coast.

When the RAF entered into the “Expansion Scheme” in 1935 because of events developing in  Germany, numerous permanent aerodromes were built in the U.K, one of which was on Thorney Island. It was intended primarily for housing Coastal Command squadrons defending our southern approaches and the English Channel.

The station was built during 1936/37 and a huge grass airfield was prepared with a brick built campsite and its six ‘C’ type concrete hangars located on the western side. Its official opening day was the 3rd of February 1938 when it became part of No.16 Group of Coastal Command.

The aircraft used by Coastal Command at Thorney Island started off with Ansons in 1939/40, Blenheims and Beauforts in 1940/41, Hudsons and Hampdens and Whitleys and Wellingtons in 1942/43, and the large Liberators in 1943.

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Historic Airfields

RAF Airfields WW2 Part 1

Here, we will tell you a little more about RAF airfields that were used during World War 2. This is RAF Airfields WW2 Part 1 where we highlight RAF Dishforth, RAF Odiham, RAF Coltishall, RAF Coningsby, and RAF Lossiemouth.

RAF Dishforth

RAF Dishforth is located 4 miles East of Ripon in the county of North Yorkshire, England, and just over 30 miles north of the City of Leeds. The station opened in 1936 as a bomber base with 7 groups and is still operational today flying helicopters for the British Army. Check also the following two TV clips from BBC Yorkshire and Yorkshire TV about the 1991 opening of the airfield with images of aircraft and personnel of the 657 Squadron Army Air Corps.

RAF Dishforth is located just south of where the A1 joins the A168 joins, slightly north of Boroughbridge, Yorkshire. In January 1937, the first No.10 Squadron arrived here with Heyfords and on September 8, 1939, the first mission was sent from Dishforth. Later in the war, Dishforth came under the wing of No.6 Group RCAF and the first squadron that was formed here was No.426 Sqn with Wellingtons. In 1943, hard runways were constructed which turned Dishforth into a class-A bomber airfield.

In November 1943, the No.1664 Heavy Conversion Unit was stationed at Dishforth here with Halifaxes. For the remainder of the war, RAF Dishforth continued to be an airfield for training purposes. The RAF ended flying from the airfield in 1988, the Army Air Corps took over.

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Historic Airfields

Historic UK Airfields

The following is a list of all Historic UK Airfields that were used during World War 1 and World War 2 in the United Kingdom. All these fields have official listed status. Check also out this Bicester Air Show “Flying Highlights” video (The Pitts Special Stunt Plane)

RAF Bicester Airfield (Oxfordshire). Bicester Airfield is located some 15 miles north of Oxford.  The military airfield dates back to 1916 and this is where, in 1939, the first flight of the Handley Page Halifax prototype took place. Later, Bicester Airfield was the home of RAF maintenance until they left the site in 2004. The airfield was used from 1924 as a station for bomber aircraft and retains bomb stores, airfield defenses, a grass airfield, and perimeter hardstandings and perimeter track added in World War II.

RAF Biggin Hill Airfield (Bromley). This operational airport (now named London Biggin Hill Airport) is located only a few miles east-southeast of Croydon in the London Metropolitan area. It is really Britain’s best-celebrated fighter aircraft station that includes an original 1934 officers’ mess and some domestic and technical buildings of which most are dating back to the early 1930s. This important historic site also includes the nation’s best-preserved married living quarters.

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Historic Airfields

Midland Air Museum Review

The Midland Air Museum is located just outside of Baginton Village in Warwickshire, Great Britain, close to Coventry Airport. This post is a Midland Air Museum Review.

Not so many of the 20 or so founding members of the “Midland Aircraft Preservation Society” that were present at the inaugural meeting on May 24, 1967, would have thought that the Midland Air Museum they just had founded, would become the impressive exiting place it is more than 50 years on.

Now, the efforts of these and the members who followed them have resulted in a top-notch British independent air museum. That first meeting, brought about by a series of adverts in the Coventry Evening Telegraph, took place in a hired room at The Nugget Inn in Coventry.

The Society, or M.A.P.S. as it became known, began amassing a fine collection of photographs, books, aircraft bits, airframes, and engines, and although the latter were generally small and easily stored there was an attempt, in December/January of 1967/1968, to save the second prototype Hawker Hunter from the scrapman at Solihull. With little resources and nowhere to put it the attempt was unsuccessful.

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Historic Airfields

Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Center-East Kirkby

Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Center-East Kirkby is a privately operated and owned Museum that was established by two brothers, Harold and Fred Panton. The Museum was built as a memorial for and tribute to Bomber Command and their older brother Christopher who was killed during a British bombing raid over the German city of Nuremberg in March 1944.

The brothers wanted to visit their brother’s grave in Germany but father Panton told them not to do so as he wanted “nothing to do anymore with the bloody war”. It wasn’t until the 1970s that Mr. Panton asked his son Fred to “go to Germany and bring home a photograph of Christopher’s grave”. It goes without saying that Fred did so as soon as he had a chance.

These memorable days reignited Fred’s interest in all that had happened in War War II and when finally the Avro Lancaster NX611 Bomber was for sale, it was bought by the Panton brothers and brought back to their field in East Kirkby.

Initially, the brothers wanted to keep it just for private purposes, but later, suggestions were made that they should not keep it away from the public and turn it into a showpiece for all. So that’s how the Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Center was set up and the Lancaster NX611 “Just Jane” and the Control Tower became the centerpieces.

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Historic Airfields

RAF Polebrook-Northamptonshire

RAF Polebrook-Northamptonshire was built by George Wimpy and Co. 3/4 miles southeast of Oundle in Northamptonshire on farmland owned by the Rothchild Family. The airfield was first used by the RAF in the years 1940- 42 by 90th Squadron.

It had one J type hanger and 2 T2s and 30 hardstandings laid down. These were lengthened in 1942 as they were found to be unsuitable for heavy bombers. So they were made up to 1,900 yards main and two secondary ones were 1,400 yards each and twenty more hardstands were laid down to make RAF Polebrook a class A airfield.

This page is in memory of the 351st Combat Wing who was stationed here from 1943 to 1945. On January 15, 1943, the 305 Service Group arrived at RAFD Polebrook to begin preparations to receive the air and ground echelons of the 351st Bomber Group.

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