R.A.F Leconfield

 

 

 


The Sqn Logos are used and produced under licence from the MOD

 

INFO

R.A.F Leconfield is located near Beverley & Driffield, 10 miles from Hull in the Riding of East Yorkshire.  Construction of the airfield was completed in December 1936 and was open on the 3rd December after more than a year of building. Designed to be a bomber airfield, it featured:-

5 large hangars. Four of the hangars were built fronting the 'Parade circle’, while a fifth was placed behind them at the south end.

 

Above: 2014 areal shot showing the Bombing Circle and 4 of the remaining Hangers (Hanger 4 is now a car park and was removed between 2003 & 2007)

 

Runway: 01/19 - 3000yds - Concrete

Runway: 05/23 - 1400yds - Concrete

Runway: 14/32 - 1400yds – Concrete

Although in 1941 preparations had begun to receive bombers, by laying out three concrete runways. The three runways (01/19, 05/23 and 14/32) were all built at 1300yards in length, but 01/19 was soon lengthened to 1520 yards. The perimeter track featured 36 'pan'-type parking dotted all around it. As soon as the work was complete, another lengthening took place to allow heavy bombers to operate from the airfield. At the end of 1941, the airfield was returned to Bomber Command control. Soon the main runway (01/19) was lengthened to 3000 yards, while the other two became 1400 yards long, both lengthened on their southern ends. The 05/23 runway was ending on the 14/42, allowing sufficient height to be gained to clear the elevated Hull to Scarborough railway line.

 

History

Squadrons

The first squadron that arrived at the Leconfield was 166 Sqn, in January 1937, and the second, 97 Sqn, arrived a shortly after,  Both squadrons were using the Handley Page Heyford III Bomber’s under control of 3 Group until June 1938, Then transferred into 4 Group.

 Above: Handley Page Heyford III Bomber Length: 58ft 0in (17.68m) Span: 75ft 0in (22.86m) Height: 17ft 6in (5.33m) Max Speed: 154mph (247km/h) Engines: Two 640hp Rolls Royce Kestrel VI Bomb load: 2,000lb (908kg) Armament: Three Lewis guns in nose.

 

In mid-1938 both squadron’s lost their front line status, when they became training squadrons for air observers and as such they had a low priority for re-equipment. Although they had received some Armstrong Whitley’s in the June 1939, the squadrons still operated biplanes when war was declared later that year after war had been declared in September 1939, the bomber squadron’s moved to RAF Abingdon.

 

In September 1939 Leconfield was taken over by Fighter Command's No. 13 Group, to provide defensive cover for the Humber area.  The Mk I Spitfires of 72 squadron arrived from RAF Church Fenton.  During the Battle of Britain, the station was a temporary home to many other squadrons of Fighter Command which made short stays here to rest and re-group. During this period there was also a decoy airfield at nearby Routh.

The bombing decoy at Routh was built to deflect enemy bombing from RAF Leconfield airfield. This was a 'Q-type' night decoy, which displayed a series of lights to simulate an active airfield. It is referenced as being in use between June 1940 and August 1942. The control post is visible as a structure and earthworks on air photographs in 1970 but the current condition, No features of the original decoy survive and land given over to agricultural use.

 

In 1941 the site was closed to flying whilst the runways were redeveloped, the accommodation becoming a school for No. 15 (Pilot) Advanced Flying Unit. The site was also used to accommodate personnel assembling to become the new Canadian No. 6 Group that was being established in North Yorkshire. At its peak, the camp provided accommodation for 2,560 personnel.  Leconfield was handed back to Bomber Command at the end of 1941, after concrete runways had been laid.

 

On the night of 3 September 1939, the first night of the war, ten Whitley bombers from Leconfield became the first British aircraft to penetrate German airspace, dropping propaganda leaflets over Germany.

 

During the war the RAF squadrons based at Leconfield were:

 

No. 51 Squadron between 20 April 1945 and 21 August 1945 with the Short Stirling Mk.V before moving to RAF Stradishall.

 

Above: Short Stirling Mk V

 

 

No. 166 Squadron between 20 January 1937 and 17 September 1939 using the Handley Page Heyford III before switching to the Armstrong Whitworth Whitley I in June 1939 and moving to RAF Abingdon.

 

 

No. 196 Squadron between 22 December 1942 and 19 July 1943 flying the Vickers Wellington X before moving to RAF Witchford.

 

Above: 196 Sqn

 

Above: Wellington X, HE165 of No 196 Squadron, which was damaged by flak during mine-laying operations off the Frisian Islands on the night of 14-15 March 1943, but managed to make a successful emergency landing back at its base at Leconfield, Yorkshire. © IWM (CH 10663)

 

No. 234 Squadron reformed at Leconfield on 30 October 1939 with the Fairey Battle, Bristol Blenheim IF, Gloster Gauntlet II before settling on the Supermarine Spitfire Mk. I. The squadron moved to RAF Church Fenton on 22 May 1940.

 

 

No. 466 Squadron between 22 December 1942 and 3 June 1944 with the Handley Page Halifax II/III before moving to RAF Driffield.

 

Above: The first all Australian crew in Bomber Command to complete a tour of operations (with No 466 Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force) stand in front of their Vickers Wellington bomber at RAF Leconfield, Yorkshire. Left to right: Flight Sergeant J P Hetherington (bomb aimer), Pilot Officer A C Winston (rear gunner), Pilot Officer J H Cameron (captain), Flight Sergeant J Samuels (W/O - air gunner), and Pilot Officer J J Allan (navigator). © IWM (CH 11173)

 

 

 

No. 610 Squadron between 29 August 1941 and 14 January 1942 with the Supermarine Spitfire IIA/VB before moving to RAF Hutton Cranswick.

 

Above: Some of 610 Sqn chilling out

 

 

(NO CREST FOUND)

No. 640 Squadron formed at the airfield on 7 January 1944 with the Halifax III before switching to the Mk. VI in March 1945 and disbanding on 7 May 1945.

  

Above: 640 Sqn Crew

 

 

 

              &        

The station was also the place of formation of the Polish 302 Squadron "Poznański", and on October 11th 1940, after nearly six weeks of being in the thick of fighting in the Battle of Britain the exhausted 303 "Kościuszko" was moved to Leconfield. It then became a intensive fighter training unit, and begun receiving replacements for those who had been killed, wounded, or sent to OTUs as instructors.

 

Above: Rested from the strain of heavy fighting (from left): sgt Kustrzynski, Sgt Popek, Sgt Szlagowski, F/O Feric, P/O Daszewsski and F/O Zumbach. 303 Sqn

 

Above: Some of 302 Sqn

 

Post War

In the 1950s, Leconfield became a 'dispersal base' for the RAF V-bomber force. Additionally, it was home to the Central Gunnery School which, among other functions, trained air gunners in Lincoln bombers after October 1945, into the early 1950s. In 1957 the Central Gunnery School was transformed into the Fighter Weapons School.

275 Sqn (flying Bristol Sycamore helicopters) arrived there in 1957. The 01/19 runway was lengthened to 3000yards and for years Leconfield served as a fighter station. The aircraft then flown were Venoms, Meteors and Javelins, plus twin-seat Vampire T11, Meteor trainers and Hawker Hunters for trials with ADEN cannons in 1957. 275 Sqn was renumbered to 228 Sqn in 1959, after having converted to Westland Whirlwind HAR10 (licence built Sikorsky S-55/H-19 Chickasaw) helicopters. Leconfield became home to 19 Sqn and in 1961 also to 92 Sqn with Lightning F.2s. Additionally, Leconfield became 11 Group HQ and housed the 11 Group Comms flight. In 1964 228 Sqn. was renumbered again, to 202 Sqn. The Lightnings moved out (to RAF Geilenkirchen) in December 1965. Leconfield then became home to 60MU and also 202 'D' Flight with Westland Whirlwind helicopters. 60MU was responsible for the major servicing of the EE/BAC Lightnings, plus several other tasks.

In the 1950s Leconfield was a 'dispersal base' for the RAF V bomber force.  Also, after being transferred from RAF Catfoss in October 1945, and into the early 1950s,  it was home to the Central Gunnery School  which, among other functions, trained air gunners in Avro Lincoln bombers. This School was later transformed into the Fighter Weapons School.

The aircraft then flown were mainly single-seat Venoms and Meteors, plus twin-seat Vampire T11, Meteor trainers and Hawker Hunters for trials with ADEN cannons in 1957 Bristol Sycamore HR 14 helicopters of No. 275 Squadron RAF arrived on 9 October 1957 before being re-equipped with the Westland Whirlwind HAR 4 in March 1959 with the HAR 2 version being added in August 1959, however on 1 September 1959 the squadron was disbanded.

On 29 June 1959 19 Squadron joined with their Hawker Hunter F.6's before being re-equipped with the English Electric Lightning F.2 in December 1962 and moving to RAF Gütersloh on 23 September 1965,[13] being joined at RAF Gütersloh by No. 92 Squadron on 24 January 1968 which had also been stationed at Leconfield with their Hunter F.6's also later FGA9's (The Blue Diamonds).[citation needed] It then became home to No. 60 Maintenance Unit RAF (MU) and also 202 'D' Flight with Westland Whirlwind helicopters. 60MU was responsible for the major servicing of the EE/BAC Lightnings, plus several other tasks.

In the 1970s the control tower at Leconfield developed a reputation for being haunted by a Flight Lieutenant who had been killed on the station. The cinema on the camp becoming a listed building because the building is the only one of its type. RAF Leconfield closed on 1 January 1977.

 

As you might know if your from East Riding of Yorkshire this is the home of the Air Sea Rescue (Below)

 

The former RAF Leconfield, or 'Leconfield Camp' was a Royal Air Force station in, East Riding of Yorkshire, England. The site is now used by the MoD Defence School of Transport Leconfield (DST Leconfield).

 

Above: R.A.F Leconfield 1997

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Thanks to: IWM - http://www.iwm.org.uk/