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Copyright© ISBN 0 9507190 0 5

Printed by Stoate & Bishop (Printers) Ltd.
Gloucester & Cheltenham
3 Fury and 2 Audax Trainers lined up at RAF Brize Norton in 1937.
(Bert Goodare)
~ ~ c / ~ ~ J r ~
S   ~ ~
Chapter One 1935-1942
Chapter Two 1942-1950
Chapter Three 1950-1965
Chapter Four 1965-1980
Appendix 1 Units and examples of their aircraft
Appendix 2 Aircraft handled by 6 MU
Appendix 3 Station Commanders (1937-1980)
inside back cover
inside back cover
n its modern role of 'Gateway to the World' Brize Norton is probably the
Royal Air Force station most often exposed to public view. News films of
the Royal Family, VIPs and troops boarding VC 10s bound for exotic
destinations to fulfil tasks of national and international importance are familiar
to many. Its other functions are probably not so well known, but certainly of no
less significance.
Since its birth Brize Norton has played an active part in the nation's
defence. Undoubtedly it was the colour and variety ofBrize's past which first
attracted Corporal Steve Bond to embark on his research and eventuilly to
produce this history of RAF Brize Norton.
The station has always maintained friendly ties with the surrounding
civilian communities whose lives are inevitably affected by the presence of a
large and active airfield in their midst. Because of the less transient nature of
the civilian population many local people are far more aware ofBrize Norton's
past than the personnel who serve here. Corporal Bond has drawn freely from
a rich supply of local reminiscences to lend colour to his account.
Corporal Bond has been stationed here for 5 years working as an engine
fitter. As a zealous aviation enthusiast he has already had several articles
printed in specialist magazines and was the founder member of the Station's
flourishing aviation society. This book is his most ambitious project so far and
one which I commend to all.
April 1980 Group Captain W H Croydon OBE
oyal Air Force Brize Norton came into being as a result of the RAF
expansion programme of the early nineteen-thirties. The original site
chosen for the aerodrome was some two or three miles further south, near the
village of Clanfield, but it was soon discovered that this area was liable to
flooding in the winter months, so the final choice fell on an area of farmland
bounded by the villages ofBrize Norton, Carterton and Black Bourton. In fact ,
Carterton was to have been the name of the airfield, but this was changed to
avoid any possible confusion with Cardington in Bedfordshire.
Work began in 1935 along well established lines, with an almost circular
grass landing area approximately 1,000 yards across, with a domestic and
technical site in the north west comer, which included 5 'B' type hangars. Four
further hangar areas were also provided, dispersed at various points around the
perimeter and each consisting of two hangars.
The station was allocated to No 23(T) Group, and was officially opened on
13th August 19 3 7. On 7th September, the first flying unit arrived, when No 2
Flying Training School (FTS) arrived from Digby, Lines, bringing with it a
collection of Hart Trainers, Audax and Fury aircraft. In fact, much of the
building work was still unfinished at this time, with personnel being housed in
temporary wooden huts, but this did not prevent 2 FTS from rapidly settling
back down to its task of aircrew training, which included detachments to
armament practice camps.
The first such detachment since the unit arrived at Brize Norton ended in
disaster, when the entire formation of aircraft en route to Penrhos in Wales was
lost after flying into bad weather. Thereafter, bombing practice was moved to
Chesil Beach in Dorset, with the aircraft operating from nearby Warm well.
Here again, tragedy struck, with one aircraft coming down in the sea, the pilot
being killed.
Accidents like this were an all too familiar part of life at a training
establishment, and Brize Norton units certainly had their fair share right up to
the end of the last war. During these early days at 2 FTS, at least two more Hart
Trainers were lost during local flying, killing trainee pilots in both cases.
However, there was certainly a lighter side to life, and the unit was not without
its quota of characters, amongst whom were Flight Sergeant Lillywhite, an
instructor, who used to drive himself around in a steam car, and a wing
commander, who regularly came to work on a horse! In fact , this latter mode of
transport was. even used for towing the biplanes on occasions.
The next major development occured on lOth October 1938, with the
forming of No 6 Maintenance Unit, which occupied one hangar on the main
site and all the previously mentioned dispersed sites. The main work of the unit,
which was to remain largely unaltered for the next thirteen years, was the
modification, storage and reissue of a wide variety of aircraft types.
6 MU was part of 41 Group, Maintenance Command, and the first aircraft
to arrive for storage were two Saunders Roe Cloud amphibians, which were
flown in from Ansty on 30th January 19 3 9. By the end of the following month,
more than 200 aircraft had been received, including Swordfish, Battle, Tiger
Moth, Gladiator, etc. In fact, as time passed, the variety of aircraft handled
increased to encompass almost every type in RAF service up to the end of the
war, and this will be dealt with in more detail later on.
Another aircraft operator on the station at this time was the Station Flight,
which was one of the very few to be issued with a de Havilland Don with the
arrival of L2415 during 1938. This aircraft had orginally been intended as a
turreted general purpose trainer, before policy changes resulted in its
relegation to the rather more mundane task of communications. However, its
service life was short and all remaining examples had been grounded by 1940.
On Saturday, 20th May 19 3 9, 2 FTS was host to the public at what was to
be the last Empire Air Day. This was a very different affair from the air
displays of today; there was no static display of aircraft and the public were
not even allowed onto the airfield, the flying display being centred on that part
of the Carterton to Black Bourton road which used to run along the western end
of the aerodrome.
Of special interest was the first appearence of 2 FTS 's new Harvards and
Oxfords, which were just beginning to replace the biplanes. All the flying was
performed by local machines with the exception of fly-pasts by a Blenheim
and a Battle and a display by a Gauntlet. The now familiar instructor/pupil act
was performed in a Hart Trainer piloted by Squadron Leader Broughton and
Pilot Officer P. Kewliar!
However, more changes for 2 FTS were on the horizon and the Harvards
were destined to be short-lived on the unit. In September 1939, the title of the
unit was changed to No 2 Service Flying Training School (SFTS), and
gradually over the next few months all the Harvards and remaining biplanes
were withdrawn as the Oxford took over as sole equipment.
The onset of war brought feverish activity with the camouflaging of the
airfield being completed on the day of the declaration, and three day later, two
squadrons ofBlenheim IVs, Nos 101and110, arrived from their home bases
on a "scatter" exercise which kept them at Brize for just a week.
Other than this and a marked increase in the number of pupils passing
through 2 SFTS, the early days of the war affected the day to day life of the
station very little, although 6 MU made its own direct contribution to the war
effort in early 1940 by despatching Gladiators to Finland and Blenheims to
Jugoslavia. On 11 th June 1940, the headquarters and part of the flying section
of 15 SFTS moved in from Middle Wallop with Harvards and Oxfords whilst
waiting for its ultimate base at Kidlington to be made ready. The rest of the unit
was split between South Cerney and Chipping Norton, and shortly afterwards
it became solely Harvard equipped with a total of 28 aircraft at Brize Norton.
On 28th July, a 2 SFTS Oxford with Sgt Adkinson and Sgt Ward aboard, was
shot down by an unknown enemy aircraft during night flying over the satellite
aerodrome at Akeman Street.
Hawker Fury II K8294 of Eleven Flying Training School, flying over Brize .
(Bunny Shayler)
An aerial view ofBrize Norton taken shortly after it opened in 1937. Several Hart Trainer/ Audax/
Fury types of 2 FTS are visible, and the unfinished state of many of the buildings is quite evident.
(RAF Brize Norton)
Airspeed Oxford 1 N4853 'B' of 2 SFTS during the winter of 1939/40. This aircraft was taken
on charge on 25th November, 1939, and was destroyed in the disastrous air raid of 16th
August, 1940.
(Bunny Shayler)
North American Harvards of 2 SFTS, including N7146, P5894 and P5899. Harvards were
only in use at Brize for a short period, before the unit standardised on Oxfords.
(By courtesy of the Trustees of the Imperial War Museum)
AW Whitley GT V BD661, comes in to land from the Bampton road end, whilst in service with
the HGCU. Note the mixture of training and operational camouflage schemes on the Horsas
in the background.
(By courtesy of the Trustees of the Imperial War Museum)
Another Whitley GT V, bearing the code '32', tows an HGCU Mk 1 Horsa across Brize.
(By courtesy of the Trustees of the Imperial War Museum)
Airspeed Horsa 1 DP747 of the HGCU, showing to advantage the colour scheme used in the
early days of the unit to make the training gliders more conspicuous. The underwing stripes were
black and yellow.
(By courtesy of the Trustees of the Imperial War Museum)
An air traffic controller's nightmare! No less than 19 Horsas are coming in to land together in
this shot, taken on the 15th April 1944. Note the Tiger Moth in the hangar.
(By courtesy of the Trustees of the Imperial War Museum)
Early in August, a photographic reconnaissance flight over Brize was made
by the Luftwaffe as a prelude to what was to be a disastrous air-raid which had
a profound effect on operations. The raid took place on Friday, 16th August,
when at around teatime, two Ju 88s appeared in the circuit. Previously
published accounts of the raid have talked of the aircraft flying round the circuit
with their wheels down in an attempt to fool the defences into mistaking them
for friendly aircraft, but this is not born out by eye-witness accounts. What is
certain is that the aircraft made a low-level attack and headed straight for the
main hangar complex, dropping a total of 32 bombs including two 250 kilo
bombs, one of which skidded off a hard-standing and came to rest perilously
near an ammunition store, fortunately failing to explode. However, one
hangar, packed full of Oxfords, received a direct hit, destroying all the aircraft
inside. In all, 46 aircraft were destroyed, comprising 35 Oxfords and 11
Hurricanes lodging with 6 MU. In addition, a further 7 Oxfords were
damaged; both Ju. 88s escaped unchallenged.
One result of this raid was that within a couple of days 2 SFTS had
dispersed their aircraft to relief landing grounds at Southrop and Akeman
Street, and although Brize Norton was to be bombed on three more occasions
no further aircraft were lost as a result. Also, on the same day that 2 SFTS
completed its dispersion, 15 SFTS moved out to Kidlington.
Throughout the remainder of 1940 and most of 1941, the work of 2 SFTS
continued as before, though the nature of that work continued to take a heavy
toll in terms of casualties from flying accidents. A visit to the churchyard at
Black Bourton reveals just how many men lost their lives before they ever got
to combat, with a large proportion of European and Commonwealth airmen
amongst them.
One potentially dangerous situation, which fortunately came to a safe
conclusion, concerned a pilot on a solo handling flight in an Oxford. Having got
airborne, he discovered that he had undercarriage trouble, so, being unable to
communicate with the ground, he had the idea of throwing a note out of the
aeroplane! This he did, with the result that the circuit was cleared for him to
make a safe landing! Another lucky escape came the way of the crew of a
Wellington which came down in the camp area, coming to rest on the
Sergeants' Mess tennis court! No injuries were sustained.
Yet another Oxford unit to operate from Brize for a brief period of time was
No 1525 Beam Approach Training Flight, which was present from 18th
February until 16th July 1942. It was during this period, on the 14th March to
be exact, that 2 SFTS finally became 2 (P)AFU, still with Oxfords, although it
also had one or two Ansons on strength. Its job was now to provide short
courses for Dominion personnel until, on 14th July 1942, it was disbanded,
thus bringing to an end nearly five years of powered aircraft pilot training
Although the major flying activities of Brize Norton were now to enter a
very different, and certainly better known, phase, the work of 6 MU continued
unabated with large numbers of aircraft passing through their hands. Amongst
the many types being handled there were numbers of Douglas Bostons, many
of which were destined to sit out on the airfield for several years, plus
Hampdens, Beauforts, Defiants, Whirlwinds, Blenheims, Spitfires,
Hurricanes, Oxfords, Tiger Moths, and even such rarities as an Avro
Commodore (HH979) and Monospar ST.25 (X9334), impressed into
military use at the outbreak of war, both of which spent short periods in
storage before being re-issued for service.
However, the type which was probably present in the greatest numbers at
that time was the Fairey Battle, brought here after its premature withdrawal
from bombing duties, following its heavy mauling at the hands of the Luftwaffe
in France. By now, the airfield had spread considerably into the surrounding
countryside, and a large wood to the east of Brize Norton village was the home
for around 60 Battles for two years or more. Finally, a sheet-metal worker on 6
MU, who still lives in the area today, was detailed to carry out modifications to
all the aircraft, which consisted of cutting holes down through the floor and
installing periscopes. He is not sure if this was ever put to use, but well
remembers the aircraft being eventually overhauled and despatched overseas
for further use, presumably in the training role in Canada.
The MU also suffered its share of accidents and incidents, the worst being to
an Anson engaged in ferrying pilots around which crashed on approach to
Brize, killing all 5 on board. Then, on 22nd December, 1940, a Hurricane
crashed in a snow-storm, killing the pilot. However, all incidents did not have
such tragic results, as the following, which is well remembered locally, will
A Spitfire was carrying out ground runs on the 28th February 1941 with a
Czech or Polish pilot in the cockpit, when it inadvertently took-off with a 6 MU
man still lying across the tail! A very cautious circuit was flown and a safe
landing made, the tail-hanger being none the worse for his experience; in fact
he still l.ives locally. Not so fortunate was the pilot of a Defiant whose aircraft
hit No 4 hangar and was destroyed.
The spread of the airfield brought about some interesting situations. Several
small hangars suitable for two or three Spitfire-sized aircraft were erected in
Carterton and other areas and disguised to look like farm buildings. It thus
became a common site to see aircraft taxiing or being towed along the village
roads and country lanes on their way to and from these dispersed sites. Today,
just one of these small hangars remains, long since converted for use as a
garage workshop. Despite its new frontage, however, a walk round the back of
the building reveals its unmistakable outline and the original doors, now fixed
permanently open.
Another feature which must have caused a few headaches was the Witney to
Fairford railway line, which, following Brize Norton's first period of growth,
found itself, for a few hundred yards, running inside the airfield boundary with
a taxiway crossing it! This was resolved by the provision of one, later two,
aircraft/train level crossing, and although the railway finally closed in the early
nineteen-sixties the remains of the crossings can still be seen on the airfield
. On the 15th July 1942, the Heavy Glider Conversion Unit (HGCU) was
formed at Brize Norton, a move which was to eventually result in the station
assuming a front-line operational role.
Horsas being marshalled and prepared for the day's work at Brize Norton in April 1944.
(By courtesy of the Trustees of the Imperial War Museum).
While personnel stand-by with the next tow-ropes, the tug of this Airspeed Horsa is signalled to
commence its take-off run at Brize in April 1944. Note the Albemarle awaiting its turn to
collect a glider.
(By courtesy of the Trustees of the Imperial War Museum)
A Horsa getting underway, whilst its Albemarle tug is still firmly earth-bound. This shot was
taken on the 25th April 1944, and in the background can be seen a Stirling and a large number
of Spitfires awaiting attention by 6 MU.
(By courtesy of the Trustees of the Imperial War Museum)
Another shot, taken on the same day, showing a similar situation.
(By courtesy of the Trustees of the Imperial War Museum)
Airspeed Horsa 1 LH501, built by Harris Lebus and assembled at 6 MU at Brize Norton on the
l 5th April, 1944.
(By courtesy of the Trustees of the Imperial War Museum)
Two shots of Horsas being assembled by 6 MU, following the receipt from the factories . One of
the aircraft is DP528. Photo taken on the 3rd June, 1943.
(By courtesy of the Trustees of the Imperial War Museum)
ith the coming into service during 1942 of the Airspeed Horsa glider, it
became apparent that a new unit was needed in order to train army pilots
to fly it. Previous glider experience had been largely confined to the much
smaller General Aircraft Hotspur which had been relegated very early on to a
training-only role due to its size.
Accordingly, on the 15th July 1942, the Heavy Glider Conversion Unit
was formed at Brize Norton (which by this time had been provided with paved
runways), with an initial complement of 56 Horsas, plus 34 Armstrong
Whitworth Whitley V tugs , and two Oxfords. The nucleus of the headquarters
staff came from 2(P)AFU personnel, and the pupil establishment was set at
62. Aircraft were delivered steadily through July, until, by the end of the
month, a total of 307 day and 38 night flights had been made by the Horsas.
Flying at Brize gradually became very intense as the build-up at HGCU
was added to ever increasing activity at 6 MU, which was assembling Horsas
received direct from the factories, and had also started handling Venturas,
Hotspurs, Hudsons, Liberators, Mitchells and Fortress Ils. In fact, the air
space was now becoming so congested that 6 MU brought a satellite into use at
Woburn Park, on the Duke of Bedford's estate, and the HGCU was forced to
transfer some flying to Grove airfield between the lOth February and 20th
April 1943.
Another problem was the proximity of the aerodrome at Broadwell, the
circuit of which, overlapped that at Brize Norton. In order to help the situation,
circuit lights were installed to assist the aircrew during night flying, the start of
the system being marked by an illuminated sign reading "BZ Start Now".
However, an incident occurred later in the war which serves to illustrate just
how potentially dangerous the situation was.
A Dakota took-off from Broadwell one night with a Horsa in tow, and
immediately got into some kind of trouble which necessitated a forced landing.
The tug came down in open land at Rock Farm, Carterton, the impact setting
the glider adrift, albeit with the entire length of towing-cable still attached. At
very low altitude, the Horsa Flew across Carterton village, dragging its cable
across roof-tops and bringing down telephone lines until it finally was ble to
set down in a fi eld adjacent to Brize Norton aerodrome. To this day, a
bungalow near the present airfield boundary shows signs of the roof repairs
made necessary by the passage of the cable!
As if all this were not enough, it was thought to be desirable, in view of the
Luftwaffe's previous unwelcome attentions, to set up a decoy airfield some
three or four miles to the south east at Tadpole Bridge. This had no function
during daylight hours, but each night, a team would set out from Brize and
organise a system of false runway lights. It is not certain if the enemy ever paid
any serious attention to it or not.
With all this intense activity, it will come as no surprise to learn that there
were many accidents in those days with Whitleys coming off particularly
badly. Perhaps the most tragic occurred in the evening of 9th November 1943,
when two Whitleys on pre night-flying checks were indulging in a little high-
spirited low-level flying. According to eye-witness accounts, a third Whitley
attempted to join in, and almost immediately, two ofthe aircraft (BD502 and
BD512), collided and crashed, one coming down just east of Brize Norton
village alongside the Witney road and the other in farmland about half a mile
away; four men were killed. Today, the spot where the first aircraft came down
is still marked by the partially demolished section of dry-stone wall and small
parts of the second machine are still turned up by the plough on Brown's Farm.
Yet another hazard was a row of elm trees, which were exactly in line with
the upwind end of the main runway close to Black Bourton village, and
eventually they claimed a casualty, again at night, when a Whitley, just
airborne with a Horsa in tow struck the tree tops and came down between two
cottages. The Horsa managed to cast-off, but it too hit some more elms on the
far side of the village and crashed. This accident is believed to have cost 6 lives.
Early in 1943, some of the first production Albemarles arrived to replace
the Whitleys, but these P-serialled aircraft were not in fact used and remained
only until April, when they were returned to MUs. However, the Albemarle
was not to be absent from the scene for long, for it was decided in early 1944,
that Brize would become the base for two squadrons of these aircraft in the
operational paradrop and glider-tug role.
Thus, to make the necessary room, the HGCU was moved to North
Luffenham during March, taking with it 36 Horsas, 40 Whitleys, 3 Oxfords
and one Magister. On 8th March, Brize was transferred to No 38 Group and on
the 13th of the same month, a headquarters party arrived from Stoney Cross in
Hampshire, preceding Nos 296 and 297 Squadrons which came from Hurn
and Stoney Cross respectively. Almost immediately, 100 Horsas were added
to the station's strength and training began in earnest to prepare them for D-
The first major exercise took place on 20th March, when 28 Albemarles,
split 50/50 between the two squadrons, together with other 38 Group
squadrons, dropped paratroops onto Brize Norton and released gliders. This
exercise was code-named "Bizz One", and was followed by others entitled
"Dreme", "Dingo", "Exeter" and "Confirmation", all along similar lines,
and all preparing for the allotted tasks which were soon to follow on the 6th
The two Albemarle squadrons commenced Brize's D-Day activities by
dropping the main body of the 5th Parachute Brigade on landing zone "N" at
0320 hours, from 9 aircraft of each unit. The landing zone was 6 miles from the
coast and 6h miles north east of Caen, on the banks of the river Orne. The first
job of the troops was to prepare the landing zone for the Horsas which followed
in the second wave behind 8 tugs from 296 Squadron and nine from 297. In
addition to these, further Horsas landed from behind tugs airborne from
Harwell and Tarrant Rushton, with a final total of 68 gliders being put down.
The main task of the men aboard these gliders was to capture two bridges over
the River Orne and the Caen canal and this was successfully accomplished.
The final phase of this operation was the capture of the coastal battery at
Merville, and for this, three further Horsas were towed by 297 Squadron
following   ~ hours behind a heavy bombardment by 100 Lancasters, and a
landing of Horsas from other 3 8 Group stations. The Brize aircraft were
landed directly onto the battery to effect its final capture, although in the event,
only two aircraft made it, the tow-rope of the third aircraft broke and it was
forced to set down at Odiham on the outward journey.
Finally, on the evening ofD-Day, in Operation Mallard, the two squadrons
each used 20 Albemarles to tow Horsas containing men of the 6th Airborne
Division to another landing zone.
Operation Comet, which was planned for the 8th September, involved 97
Horsas being flown to Manston, but in the event, the operation was cancelled.
However, they returned to Manston on the 15th for operation Market,joining
otherunits, including Hadrian gliders. On the 17th, a total of 46 Horsas and 10
Hadrians were towed-off and joined the many other units en route to Amhem.
In one of the gliders was Brize Norton's Station Commander, Group Captain
TM Abraham, DFC, who spent some time at the landing zone. On the second
day of the operation, a further 43 gliders were taken over, but thereafter, Brize
aircraft took no further part.
In addition to all the towing work, which also included positioning gliders for
other tug squadrons, 296 and 297 were involved in leaflet raids on the Channel
Islands, code-named "Nest Egg", and also dropped personnel and supplies to
the resistance movement in Europe.
In all these operations, only one fatal accident at Brize is recorded when an
Albemarle, returning from an operational sortie, crashed at Black Bourton,
killing 7 crew. On 30th September, 296 and 297 moved to Earls Caine in
Essex in two stages taking 4 7 Horsas each time.
On October 15th the HGCU returned home from North Luffenham, with
the flying wing shortly preceding the servicing wing, and by the 20th, it had
become No 21 HGCU, reflecting the still increasing pace of glider operations.
No 22 HGCU was set up at the same time at nearby Keevil and Fairford, with
No 23 HGCU at Peplow and Seighford.
The establishment of 21 HGCU at this time was intended to be 35
Albemarles, 34 Horsas and 6 Oxfords, but in fact, the Whitley was destined
to soldier on, the last examples not leaving until January 1945. In addition,
Hadrian gliders began arriving during November 1944 to supplement the
During all these changes on the operational side of the station, the MU had
steadily continued and indeed diversified its work still further. On 8th
February 1943, it had taken over the satellite at Barton Abbey from 39 MU
and then transfered that at W oburn Park to 8 MU. By early 1944, the
predominant aircraft being handled was the Spitfire, with growing numbers of
Stirling III and IV. At the end of June there were 301 aircraft in stock, and in
November there was another about-tum when the Woburn Park strip was
taken over again, and gradually, 175 Stirlings accumulated there. One Stirling
came to grief at Brize on March 26th 1944, causing injury to three of the crew,
one of whom later died.
Another fatal accident involving the MU occurred in March 1945, when
one of the test pilots, Sqn Ldr Anderson was killed in a crash near the village of
Shilton; the aircraft has been variously reported as a Spitfire or Hurricane. 21
HGCU also continued to suffer accidents and on November 17th 1944, yet
again at night, Whitley LA87 3 flew into the ground at Ducklington, with
Horsa LG749 still attached, killing both crews.
As the re-equipment with Albemarles built up, the training of RAF glider
pilots ceased altogether, and thereafter, only army pupils passed through the
On the lst June 1945, the HGCU became the parent unit for No 1 Glider
Training School at Croughton, Northants, which had a complement of
Masters, Tiger Moths and Hotspurs. With the end of the war came a reduction
in the intensity of training, but experiments were tried with alternative tug
aircraft, both Stirlings and Halif axes being tried, although the Albemarle
continued in use. During October, some Horsas and Hadrians were towed
over to nearby Hullavington for "T AF" Day; unfortunately, Horsa RX6 l 8
crashed into a hangar after release and was written off.
Brize Norton's long association with glider training finally came to an end
on the 3lst December 1945, when 21 HGCU moved to Elsham Wolds in
Lincolnshire, taking Horsas, Hadrians, Albemarles and Halifaxes with it.
Many Horsas, however, were destined not to make the journey, for with the
cessation of hostilities, the need for large numbers of the gliders abruptly ended
leaving a great number awaiting assembly at 6 MU. The solution found was to
offer the fuselages for sale locally; the original price was £25, but as time went
by this gradually came down in stages to 25 /- and then the final two dozen
aircraft were offered free to anyone who could take them away!
The redundant machines found a ready market as garden sheds, and thirty-
three years later, a few were still to be found in back gardens and allotments. In
fact, during 1978, ~ w   fuselage sections were rescued for restoration by the
Mosquito Aircraft viuseum at London Colney, Herts, with another going to
the care of the Brize N onon Aviation Society. Amongst many other unwanted
items which found there way onto the open market, were Spitfire mainwheels
which went for I 0/- a pair!
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of 6 MU's work at this time however,
was the storage of captured German aircraft after their evaluation at
Farnborough, or use as "hacks" by the occupying forces. The first to arrive
was a Junkers Ju. 188 on the IOth May, and between then and 1947, when the
last new arrivals were received, around 70 aircraft were handled, the most
numerous being the Junkers Ju. 52/3M and the Messerschmitt Me. l 63B, with
about 20 examples of each.
In addition to storage, the German aircraft were also sent out to various
exhibitions, including Hyde Park in September 1945 (Me 163, He 162, Me
108, Me 110, Fw 190, Ju 88 and Fi 156) and Brize Norton's own Battle "At
Home" Day on the same day (15th September) when the following were
displayed: Ju 52/3M, Ar 234B, Fw 190, Fw 189, Ju 188, Ju 88, Me 262, He
162, He 219, Si 204. In addition, another He 162 plus an Me 163 were
despatched to Little Rissington on loan for their open day.
Although some aircraft were passed to 4 7 MU at Seal and, 7 6 MU at
Wroughton and various other RAF stations in ones and twos, the vast majority
lingered on at Brize, with the larger aircraft open to the elements until the bad
winter of 1946/ 4 7 took its toll. Many of the aircraft were overturned in the
gales, and others suffered from falling trees, and shortly after this, the
wholesale scrapping began. The aircraft were taken to the south side of the
airfield where 6 MU were already scrapping Spitfires, Spitefuls and Liberators.
After all useful pieces and large metal areas had been removed, the mortal
A brand new Spitfire LF 16, SL616, arrives at Brize for 6 MU, on the lOth of August 1945. It was
issued to 17 OTU on the 9th September 1946, returning to 6 MU on the 23rd October. After a
further period of storage, it passed to 1 PRFU on the 18th August 194 7, until withdrawn from
use as Cat 5 on the 5 th April 19 51 and issued to 14 S of TT at Henlow for ground training use
as 6885M.
Brize Norton in 1943. By this time, paved runways had been laid down and the attempted
camouflaging of the airfield is evident. Scattered around the perimeter are approximately
15 Whitleys, 30 Horsas and a handful of Albemarles.
(RAF Brize Norton)
Two views of a TCDU Halifax A. VII, with a serial in the PP-range, taxiing around the eastern
end of the airfield, past 6 MU's German aircraft storage area. Visible in the photographs are
4 Ju 52/3Ms, a J..i 290A, He 219AN11, two Si 204Ds and 3 Ju 88s.
Avro York C. l MW263, landing from the Black Bourton end of the airfield. probably in 1947.
Fairchild C-82A 422993, taxies in to the main hangar area, in late 1945 or 1946. Visible in the
distance are the Ju 290A, some Ju 52s and Ju 88s, and a Mosquito.
Fairchild C-119C 9149 towing a TCDU Horsa during trials in about 1949/50. It is not certain
that this photo was in fact taken at Brize Norton but well illustrates the sort of work TCDU was
involved in.
Douglas C-54 272461 at Brize Norton the day after its history-making automatic flight across the
Atlantic in 194 7.
(Courtesy of Flight International)
remains were buried in twenty feet deep holes where they remain to this day.
This burial process was quite common with another pit being sited out beyond
Brize Norton village in farmland, to accommodate the remains of aircraft that
had been stored in dispersed sites.
_ The last recorded "movement" of a German aircraft took place on the 16th
of December 1948, when Siebel Si 204D AM 46 _was sold to the Eyre
Smelting Co. Most of the German aircraft on display in Britain today passed at
some stage through 6 MU, but it is sad to record that many now extinct aircraft
were scrapped in the great clear-out, including such types as Ju 290, He 219,
Fw 189, Do 217.
The MU's main task now was to reduce to scrap a wide variety of aircraft;
the Spitefuls already mentioned, together with its naval counterpart, the
Seafang, were received straight from the production line, with many never
having been flown. In January 1946, it took over the satellite at Chipping
Warden in N orthants for the storage of complete Horsas, and then in May
194 7, W oburn Park was closed after the last Stirlings there had been scrapped.
After this, 6 MU became a mere shadow of its former self, although it
entered the jet age in January 1948 when the first two Meteors arrived, the
main variants handled being the F 4 and T 7. However, the Spitfire continued
to be the main type to be found here right up to the time the MU finally
disbanded on the 31 st December 1951, when all the Spitfires, plus 3 Meteors
and 7 Proctors were despatched to other MU s.
While all this was going on, the operational side of the station had yet again
undergone great changes. With the departure of 21 HGCU, Brize had been
handed over to Transport Command, and the School of Flight Efficiency and
the Transport Command Development Unit arrived from Harwell. Also, at
this time, Finmere, Bucks and Hampstead Norris, Berks, were taken over as
satellites. In May 1946 the Army Airborne Transport Development Unit took
up residence.
The TCDU started life at Tarrant Rushton, Dorset on lstDecember 1943,
as the Airborne Forces Tactical Developmet Unit and its primary tasks were
experimenting with methods of carriage and delivery of airborne loads and.
paratroops. The main types used at the time of the move to Brize were the
Stirling, Dakota, Halifax, York, Liberator, Horsa, Hadrian and Sikorsky
Hoverfly. Strangely, the TCDU never operated a Lancastrian which was one
of the principal Transport Command types in use at that time, although one
aircraft (VM702) was present briefly during September and October 1946. A
fairly spectacular accident to a TCDU York occurred when, having failed to
become airborne, it crossed the railway line, at which point the tail unit parted
company and was left on the track. The aircraft came to rest in a field with no
serious injury suffered.
A rare aircraft adapted by TCDU for its own use was the Bristol
Buckingham C2. Originally intended as a bomber, the few Buckinghams
completed were adapted for a variety of secondary roles and in March 1946,
the TCDU obtained KV365 and modified it for use as a seven passenger
transport. In later years, the unit was also to add the Hastings and V aletta to its
strength, the Hastings being used as a tug for Hamilcar gliders.
TCDU also carried out trials with aircraft from other air forces and during
194 7, Fairchild C-82s spent some time at Brize carrying out dropping trials on
the airfield in order to give the USAAF benefit ofTCDU's experience. Later
still, the USAAF returned again, this time with C-119s and towing trials with
Horsas were carried out.
On the 5th September 1946, 297 Squadron returned to Brize from Tarrant
Rushton, although it was now equipped witnthe Halifax A IX. Its six aircraft
stayed for just under a year before moving to F airford in August 194 7.
Shortly after this, on the 23rd September, Brize Norton staged "Exercise
Longstop II", which was a demonstration of operating a mobile staging post
for forward air supply.For the purpose of the exercise, Brize was considered to
be a captured airfield whose runways were still intact.
A total of twenty Yorks were flown in, consisting of five from No 4 Group
and fifteen from No 47 Group. Before 1,500 invited spectators, the aircraft
were taxied in front of the tented staging post area for unloading. Unfor-
tunately, the timing went slightly adrift, with some aircraft sitting on the
taxiway with engines running for some considerable time, waiting for the
aircraft ahead to unload and clear. However, the usefulness of the York at that
time was well illustrated, with one aircraft unloading ajeep, anti-tank gun and
trailer in less than five minutes.
The final part of the exercise consisted of a rapid-landing demonstration by
TCDU Dakotas, with five aircraft being brought in at two minute intervals.
Another advance in long-range transport technology had already been
demonstrated at Brize the previous day, when a USAAF C-54 ( 42-72461)
Skymaster landed after flying from the United States without any of the nine
crew having touched the controls. The aircraft used a system of radio beams
and "corridor control" and had a mixed crew ofUSAAF and RAF personnel
and civilians. It belonged to the All Weather Flying Centre.
On June 30th 1949, the TCDU moved to Abingdon, Berks, and on the 4th
July, Brize Norton was again transferred, this time to No 21 Group, Flying
Training Command, thus echoing its earliest days; a feeling which was
reinforced by the arrival the next day of 25 Harvards from the Examining
Wing of the Central Flying School, Little Rissington. They stayed until the
16th March 1950, during which time Fairford was used as a relief landing
Prior to this, on the 15th August 1949, yet another unit had arrived. This
time it was No 204 Advanced Flying School from Driffield, Yorkshire, with
Mosquito T 3 and FB 6 aircraft. The job of this unit was to convert aircrew
onto type, and yet again, accidents were fairly frequent, with one Mosquito
coming down alongside the Brize Norton to Bampton road, and another
crashing in marshy ground opposite the "Mason's Arms" public house in Brize
village. This accident, on the 5th December 1949, killed one of the crew.
On lst March 1950, the station was moved to 23 Group, Flying Training
Command and then on the 9th June, the Mosquitoes left for Swinderby, Lines.
Finally, on the lst of June, just before 204 AFS's departure, the station was
put in the charge of Bomber Command as a prelude to its handing over to the
United States Air Force.
No photos suitable for reproduction have come to light of Boeing B-50s at Brize Norton. However,
this shot of' A' model 6026, serves to illustrate the type.
22nd May, 19 5 3, and the Duke of Edinburgh steps down from a Viking of the Queens Flight,
on his official visit to Brize Norton.
(Mick Burnett)
Convair B-36H, either 01084 or 01094, sits at dispersal on an unknown date, whilst another
of the same type takes-off.
(Mick Burnett)
Convair RB-36F 01098 running-up at Brize on an unknown date.
(Mick Burnett)
  the reasons for the USAF take-over at Brize Norton, it is first
.I. necessary to go into the background of their return to the UK after the war.
In 1948, with tension between the East and West on the increase, the British
Government invited America to re-deploy air force units to England.
Preparation for just such an eventuality had been under way in fact since an
informal agreement was reached in 1946 between General Spaatz,
Commander US Strategic Air Forces in Europe and Marshal of the Royal Air
Force Lord Tedder whereby five East Anglian bases would be prepared to
handle B-29s if required.
Matters came to a head in April 1948 with the start of the Berlin Blocade
and on the 7th August the establishment of USAF units in the UK was once
more put on a permanent footing. In November 1948, having been assured the
long-term use of British bases, the USAF decided that the East Anglian bases
could prove vulnerable and that it was therefore desirable to build four new B-
29 bases further inland behind the British fighter screen. A lengthy search for
suitable sites in both England and Scotland finally resulted in the choice of the
closely grouped airfields at Fairford, Greenham Common, Upper Heyford
and Brize Norton, and an arrangement for developing these airfields for USAF
use was signed in April 1950 by the then US Ambassador, Lewis Douglas, and
the Under-Secretary of State for Air, Aidan Crawley - the so-called
"Ambassadors Agreement."
An advance party of American Army engineers surveyed all four bases
during April and May 1950 in order to determine what resources would be
needed to provide each airfield with a 9 ,OOO ft runway, additional hardstands
and lighting. Then, on the 7th June, the 7503rd Base Complement Sqn was
moved from Marham, Norfolk, to Brize· Norton.
It is interesting to record at this point that very little of all this was being
given away in public, as a look at the pages of the local paper, the Oxford
Times, reveals, In the issue dated Friday, 2nd June, the possibility of
American forces occupying Brize and Little Rissington was discussed at a
meeting of the Witney Rural District Council. A statement from the Air
Ministry was read out which said that American forces were not interested in
Brize Norton, this just five days before the first Americans arrived! Then, in
the issue of the paper for Friday, 9th June - two days after the first arrivals -
the Air Ministry was quoted as saying that no decision had yet been reached as
to which airfield would be occupied by the Americans for B-29/B-50
At about the same time as the arrival of the unit from Marham, the 928th
Engineer Aviation Group moved in, followed on the 26th August by the 803rd
Engineer Aviation Battalion and work started in earnest. On the 16th April
19 51, in a formal ceremony, the station was officially handed over to the
USAF and on the 18th March the parent unit was redesignated the 7 503rd Air
Base Wing.
Just over a year later, the airfield work was completed and in June 1952, the
USAF commenced its first operational use of Brize Norton in spectacular
fasion. On a rare foggy day the drone of many heavy piston-engined aircraft
circling the area could be heard, and finally, one by one, in came a total of 21
I Ith Bomb Wing Convair B-36s the ten-engined bomber known as the
Peacemaker, or more unofficially, the "aluminum overcast". The aircraft
stayed for about a week, with little or no flying being done before departing one
evening at 2 minute intervals back to the States.
Not long after this, on the 6th November, the 7503rd was succeeded by the
3920th Air Base Group, later to become the 3920th Strategic Wing, the unit
which was to look after Brize Norton for the rest of its occupancy by the
USAF. Thus, with the organising of the station back-up system complete, the
way was clear to start full scale bomber deployments on a permanent basis,
and accordingly, on the lst of December 1952, the 352nd and 353rd Bomb
Squadrons of the 301 st Bomb Wing flew in with Boeing B-50 Superforts, with
KB-29P tankers for their ninety day stay, being replaced in their turn by the
43rd Bomb Wing, and so on.
The next year, 1953, was one of considerable advance, and it was also
marked by several notable v'sits by VIPs, starting on the 15th February when
General Curtis E LeMay, late of the renowned USAAF 8th Air Force, made a
·tour of inspection. On May 22nd, the Duke of Edinburgh visited in a Viking of
the Queen's Flight and many other high ranking officers and US Senators were
to inspect the base before the year was out.
On the construction side, 195 3 brought the completion of the direct fuel-line
from the Esso terminal at Purton on the 30th June and the opening of the new
control tower, situated on the south side of the runway, on the 30th August.
However, by far the most important event of the year was the arrival of the first
unit of Boeing B-47 Stratojets, with the first element of the 305th Bomb Wing
touching down on the 4th September for the then customary three months tour
of duty. These were the forerunners of several hundred of their type which
would ultimately visit Brize during the next 11 years.
The final happening of the year was the first accident to occur since the
USAF take-over. On the 27th November, an RAF Vampire made an
emergency landing and overshot, fortunately without injury, although the
aircraft was severely damaged.
Further consolidation during 1954 saw the base being assigned its own C-
47 (43-15943) on the 14th August, and the first major exercise on the 22nd
September. Code-named "Operation Blueplate", the exercise involved the
deployment to Brize of 15 B-47s of the 43rd Bomb Wing, at that time on
temporary duty (TDY) at nearby Fairford. The aircraft stayed for two days.
At the close of the year on the 21st November another first was achieved
with the arrival of an advanced party from the 3 21 st Air Refuelling Squadron,
the first KC-97 unit on TDY. The only accident in the area that year did not, in
fact, involve a Brize Norton aircraft. During the night of the 20th July, a large
North American RB-45C Tornado 8019, from the 47th Bomb Wing at Sculthorpe, Norfolk,
in the static display at the "Open House" in May 1955.
(Mick Burnett)
Convair B-36J 22220, of an unknown bomb wing, at the 1955 "Open House".
This aircraft is now preserved in the USAF Museum.
(Mick Burnett)
The 9th April 1955 and the storage hangar blaze is well alight. Taxiing out for take-off is a
Lockheed RF-80A, 58404 from the 38th TRS at Spangdahlem in West Germany.
(Mick Burnett)
Boeing B-4 7E 2616 under tow round the perimeter track during 19 5 5. The bomb wing is unknown.
(Mick Burnett)
explosion and fireball were seen to the south; a B-4 7 had taken off from
Fairford and almost immediately come down in open country close to Radcot
Lock on the Thames with the loss of all three crew members. Crash rescue,
firemen and security personnel were despatched to the scene from Brize
Norton since it was closer than the aircraft's parent base. In October 1978, the
scene was revisited, and after a few minutes searching in the newly ploughed
field, several pieces of wreckage came to light, including a throttle pulley and
panel fastener marked "Boeing".
A fire of a different sort was discovered by an air policeman on the 9th April
1955, when one of the old T2 metal hangars, now used as a store was set ablaze
and totally burnt out with an estimated material loss of nearly two million
dollars. The collapsed remains of the building were still much in evidence a
month later when Brize opened its doors to the public for its first "Open
An impressive array of aeroplanes was drawn up on static display including:
B-47E 2287 on TDY, KC-97G 53-108 of the 310th ARS, F-86D Sabre
24091 of the 514th FIS, 406th FIW at Manston, accompanied by T-3 3 A
35055 from the same unit, F-84G Thunderjet 1951 of the 79th FBS, 20th
FBW at Wethersfield, Essex, RB-45C Tornado 48-019 of the 47th BW at
Sculthorpe, Norfolk, B-36J 52-2220, F-84F 26382 from the 81st FBW at
Bentwaters, Hunter F 1 WW641 'B' of 54 squadron at Odiham, Hants,
Hastings C 2 WJ331 'GAX', Vampire T 11 XD437 '49'of7 FTS Valley plus
unidentified Provost T 1 and Canberra B 2.
Shortly before this event on the 4th May, a KC-97G of the 310thARS had
crashed 90 miles southwest of Iceland while operating from Brize, but despite
this, another public relations exercise went ahead on the 20th of the same
month, when a reporter from the Yorkshire Evening News was taken in a KC-
97 on a refuelling mission, thus becoming the first British journalist to be taken
on this type of flight.
However, by now it was evident that the new runway, and some taxiways
were in need of repair, and consequently, the airfield was closed from
November 22nd to 28th for inspection, and then closed completely on the 16th
December for the work to be carried out. The "Open House" on 19th May
1956 was thus a very quiet affair as the repaired runway was only re-opened
for daylight use on the 16th July and for full use again on the 4th September,
when 4 B-47s made the first use of it by jet aircraft.
Another claim to fame for the base was established on Thursday 1 7th
January 1957 when the first Boeing B-52 to make a scheduled overseas flight
landed after a flight from Castle AFB, California. The aircraft was B-52B
3395, "City ofTurlock" and was flown by Major Ben H. Clements of the 93rd
Bomb Wing. A press day for the local papers was held the next day, and
although in later years Brize would have something in the order of 90 visits by
B-52s, this was the only time a 'B' model was to be seen here or anywhere else
in the UK.
Yet more runway work was necessary between August and September and
then on the 12th December, the 3920th Air Base Group was assigned its first
jet aircraft with the arrival of two RB-4 7 s for the use of command personnel in
maintaining type proficiency.
19 5 8 began with the first overlapping of B-4 7 wings on rotation. Between
the 1 st and 31 st January, elements of both the outgoing 6 8th Bomb Wing and
the incoming 1 OOth Bomb Wing were present on the airfield at the same time.
Shortly after the exchange had been completed, on the 3rd March, a 1 OOth BW
aircraft accidentally jettisoned an underwing fuel tank whilst flying locally. It
came down in the back garden of a retired Wing Commander's house at
Ashton Keynes, fortunately for all concerned, causing no damage to people or
Not so fortunate though was the pilot of an F-86D Sabre of the 86th FIW
stationed in Germany, which, with another from the same unit, was carrying
out GCA runs at Brize Norton on the 1 Oth May. While flying on the downwind
leg of the circuit, one aircraft hit trees alongside the A40 road near Burford,
crashed and disintegrated, killing the pilot. Great anxiety was caused when
only 23 of the 24 rockets the aircraft had been carrying could be found and it
was several days before an RAF mine detector unit came up with the missing
On the 14th May, the B-5 2s returned with the arrival of six aircraft from the
92nd BW at Fairchild AFB, Washington, to participate in the RAF's annual
bombing competition. The aircraft involved were all 'D' models and were
serialled, 5112, 6584, 6599, 6667, 6668 and 6674. In marked contrast to
more recent times, the USAF scored a runaway victory in the contest, being
placed first in all categories but one, in which they came second.
Shortly afterwards, on the 26th May, Brize witnessed its first "Ban The
Bomb" type march, when 250 protestors made a peaceful protest, which
included handing in a petition at the main gate to a selected airman. It had been
decided that all officers would remain in the background to avoid provoking
anti-American elements in the crowd.
On June 27th, two KC-135s arrived after flying from New York in the
record time of 5 hours 2 7 minutes. Two days later they returned, setting a
further record for the west-bound leg of 5 hours 51 minutes. 19 5 8 was again a
year of VIP visits including a three hour meeting between the US Secretary of
State, John Foster Dulles, and the British Foreign Minister, Selwyn Lloyd, on
the 19th October, and a brief tour of the base by Vice-President Richard Nixon
on the 28th November.
However, by far the most significant event of the year was the ending of the
old-style full B-47 wing deployments with the return to the States of the lOOth
Bomb Wing on April 1 st. Thereafter, the B-4 7 units were only to stay in this
country for about three weeks at a time in considerably reduced numbers under
the so-called "Reflex Alert" system. The numbers present at any one time
were reduced from the 40 to 50 of the old system, to approximately 20, and
little, if any, flying was undertaken between arrival and departure.
1959 was, by comparison, a rather quiet year. The B-47 detachments
continued in the new pattern and completion of long-awaited over-runs at last
allowed full utilization of the 10,000 ft runway length. In November, the anti
H-bomb marchers returned this time over 500 strong, but again, no incidents
On September 14th, 1960, whilst three B-4 7 aircraft were on their way to
Brize Norton for a standard deploym_ent, two aircraft collided over the Atlantic -
and one came down in the sea. An immediate -search for the- 3-man crew was
instigated, and that same day, 10 KC-97s arrived at Brize to help. However,
several days intense activity failed to find any trace of the men or their machine
and the search was abandoned.
Boeing KC-97G 3108 from the 310th ARS, in the static display at the 1955 Open Day, while at
Brize on TDY.
(Mick Burnett)
De Havilland Vampire T.11 XD437 of7 FTS, Valley, at the 1955 "Open House".
(Mick Burnett)
Boeing B-47E 31858 at rest on a south-side dispersal. Again, the unit it belonged to is not known.
(Mick Burnett)
Boeing B-47B 12214, believed to belong to either the 305th or 320th Bomb Wings. It is parked
on one of the dispersals to the south of the Witney to Fairford railway line, which are now only
used for time-expired fire practice airframes.
(Mick Burnett)
............... .
I/Lt. Lou B. Bauer briefing B-4 7 alert crews on the 20th December, 19 5 7. The crews at that time
would all be from the 68th Bomb Wing, Lake Charles.
Boeing B-47E 2371
of the
68th Bomb Wing
(Caption see next page)
Boeing B-47E 2371 of the 68th Bomb Wing, Lake Charles AFB, being prepared for a mission
atBrize Norton on the 20th December, 1957. In the first photo, the pilot 1/Lt. Kenneth F. Somers
is activating the remote controlled tail-guns; the second shows A/2C Danny N. Shreves, the cr_ew
chief, removing ground power, and the third shows the aircraft ready to start engines.
Despite this tragedy, the station was still able to win the "Flying Safety Base
of the Year" award the following February, countering fierce competition
from other bases in SAC UK's 7th Air Division. This same year, 1961, ended
with large-scale preparations to protect the base from what had by now become
the annual "Ban the Bomb" march.
On the 6th December, two thousand RAF Regiment troops were moved in,
and three days later, the "Committee of One Hundred" demonstrated here and
at Wethersfield and South Ruislip. The massive RAF protective presence was
re-inforced by the use of a Belvedere helicopter keeping a watch on
proceedings in the surrounding area, but yet again nothing serious occurred.
Although August 1962 saw the first large scale use at Brize Norton of the
Boeing KC-135 tankers, which gradually replaced the rather out-dated KC-
97, a problem was fast arising with the B-4 7 which was itself beginning to show
signs of age and reduced effectiveness. Just a year later, it would be announced
that the B-4 7 Reflex operations would be run-down although it was not made
clear at that time just what, if anything, would replace it.
196 2 was also a year of incident starting with a B-4 7 catching fire during an
engine ground-run on the 4th October and KC-135A, 91514 suffering damage
immediately after take-off on the 1 lth November, which resulted in a
precautionary landing being carried out. It was also around this time that
during a violent thunderstorm, another B-4 7 was struck by lightning whilst
sitting at its dispersal. This resulted in the JA TO Uet assisted take-oft) bottles
being set off. These bottles were always strapped to the rear of the fuselage
while the aircraft were on Reflex alert, but were seldom used and were usually
removed prior to the aircraft returning to their home bases.
1962 also brought the Cuban crisis, during which the entire 7th Air Division
flying programme was suspended, starting again on the 5th December.
However, another halt to operations was forced on the base by the hardest
winter for many years which began to bite at the end of the same month. The
situation became so bad that a large snow-blower was flown over the Atlantic
in a C-133 Cargomaster on the 3rd January. Unfortunately, it was unable to
land at Brize and had to divert to France, finally reaching its intended
destination the next day.
There was still no outward sign of the B-47's demise and in fact on the 5th
April 1963, a further aircraft was put on the station's strength for proficiency
crew training bringing the total to four. Also, by this time, other stranger B-4 7 s
were beginning to appear at Brize, with weather, intelligence-gathering and
reconnaissance variants such as the WB-47E, RB-47H and ERB-47H
becoming more and more frequent visitors.
During July 1963, numbers of KC-135s increased in order to support
Tactical Air Command's Operation "Daily Double", and then, on the 27th
January 1964, great excitement was caused when a B-58 Hustler from the
43rd Bomb Wing, Carswell, Texas, arrived at Brize on a training flight code-
named "Alarm Bell". This was the first of its type at the base and its two day
visit was to be followed by eleven more during the year, with perhaps the most
memorable occasion being on the 11th/12th May when no less than four
aircraft were present together. Naturally, rumour was rife that the Hustler
would replace the B-4 7 on Reflex operations, but this was never to be since on
the 8th June, it was announced that Brize Norton would be returned to the
RAF in April 1965 for the use of Transport Command. In July, the base lost
two of the B-4 7 s assigned for proficiency flying, reflecting the reduced
The plan for the run-down of the base was published on the 1 st September
and called for the last USAF personnel to be off the base on the 31 st May
1965. However, the Reflex operations continued right up until the official
hand-over of the base on 1 st April 1965.
It seems that the last year or so of Strategic Air Command (SAC)
operations was treated as something of a "last-fling" with an intense
programme of alerts, exercises and visits by various other strange types; many
locals still recall the U-2 which spent some days here around this time.
Amongst the many aspects of operational life which the local population had to
learn to live with was the use during exercises of smoke-screens, when evil-
smelling smoke, produced by burning so-called "Fog Oil", would drift for
great distances across the countryside. In fact, when the wind was in the right
direction and strong enough, the good people of Carterton even had to put up
with Fairford's smoke.
By far the most common form of exercise though, was the "Broken Arrow"
alert, which simulated a B-4 7 accident and was practised almost once a week
to test emergency procedures. This was especially important when it is
remembered that aircraft on Reflex duty were armed with nuclear weapons.
The final 1 7 aircraft Reflex detachment came to an end on the 3rd April
1965, the last aircraft to leave being B-4 7E 0.31884. The aircraft on this last
tour were drawn from the 380th Bomb Wing, which on returning to the States,
was disbanded to reform at a later date as a missile unit.
Not long before the final pull-out by the USAF, it was announced that one
of the four 7th Air Division bases would be retained after all in order to support
limited SAC operations in the future, in particular, RB-47 and KC/RC-135
missions. Although the Americans were known to favour Brize Norton, they
were over-ruled by the RAF's wishes and the final choice fell on Upper
Boeing B-52B 3395 "City of Turlock", from the 93rd Bomb Wing, Castle AFB, California,
during the press day at Brize on the 18th January, 1957. The aircraft had arrived the previous
day, to make the first scheduled overseas flight by any B-52.
(By courtesy of the Oxford Times)
The Committee of 100 on their way past Brize Norton, moving towards Brize village, during their
anti H-bomb march on the 6th December 1961. The KC-97s on TDY appear to be turning their
backs on the proceedings!
(Mick Burnett)
/ -.._
Convair B-58A Hustler 92442 " Little Rascal ", from the 43rd Bomb Wing, Carswell, Texas,
during an " Alarm Bell" training mission to Brize on February 19th, 1964, accompanied by
another aircraft from the same unit. The spot where it is standing is now covered by part of
Base Hangar. Note the KC-l 35s in the background.
(By courtesy of Flight International)
Boeing B-5 2G 80215 of the 42nd Bomb Wing, landing over the Bampton road on the 12th of
January 1965.
(Barry Cooper)
Douglas C-124C Globemaster 0.20971 of the 63rd Troop Carrier Wing, landing on the
l 9th January, 1965. This was one of 4 aircraft from that unit to visit on the same day, moving
equipment out of Brize as part of the USAF withdrawal.
(Barry Cooper)
B-4 7 (Caption see next page)
u. .
Three shots showing the last B-47 to leave Brize Norton. On the 3rd April, 1965, the 380th
Bomb Wing returned to the States, bringing to an end just under 12 years of B-4 7 operations
at the base. B-47E 0.31884 had the distinction of being last away.
or some years prior to 1965, the RAF's principal strategic transport base
had been located at Lyneham, Wilts, operating the Hastings early on and
later the Comet and Britannia. With the ordering of several new types to
replace these, it became evident that Lyneham could no longer handle all the
main transport requirements on its own. Firstly, the airfield was not large
enough to handle V C 1 Os and Belfasts especially with regard to runway length,
which would not accommodate a fully-laden VC 10 with a sufficient safety
margin. Secondly, with the C-130K Hercules on order as the new tactical
transport, it was decided that Lyneham would be the ideal base for it.
The search was therefore started for a new strategic base and the choice
soon fell on Brize Norton. Plans for its re-development were already well in
hand at the time of the American withdrawal and work was started almost
immediately. Although already a large and well equipped airfield, Brize
obviously lacked the facilities necessary to handle large transport aircraft and
their cargoes, both human and material, so amongst the priorities in the
building programme were a passenger terminal, a cargo handling shed
(converted from an existing 'B' type hangar), and enlarged aprons with full
floodlighting. On the domestic side, the Americans had built comparatively
few married quarters, so a large scale housing programme was put in hand
together with an hotel for transit personnel and new living-in accommodation.
However, perhaps the most impressive item in the building programme was
what came to be known as Base Hangar. Designed to accommodate up to six
aircraft of VC 10/Belfast size, at the time of its completion in August 1967 it
was the largest cantilever structure in Western Europe and cost just under two
million pounds.
Despite all this intense activity, it was realised early on that Brize would not
be ready for the start of operations by the new types. The first RAF VC 10
(XR806) had made its maiden flight on the 26th November 1965 and
deliveries to the designated operator, 10 Squadron, began on the 7th July 1966.
The Belfast, meanwhile, had commenced its flight test programme with
XR362 on the 5th January 1964 with the first hand-over of XR367 to 53
Squadron taking place on the 20th January 1966.
Consequently, early operations were mounted from both Lyneham and
Fairford. The first operational flight was mounted by Belfast XR367 in
October 1966 when it transported 3 Whirlwind HC 10 helicopters of 1310
Flight from Atkinson Field, Guyana, arriving at Fairford on the 7th of the
month, having flown its load 5,200 miles via Barbados and the Azores. The
first VC 10 scheduled service left Lyneham on the 4th April 1967. The two
squadrons finally moved into Brize Norton during May 1967 and continued to
build-up to their full strengths of 14 V C 1 Os and 10 Belfasts, although early on
in its career, VCIO XR809 was loaned by the Ministry of Defence to Rolls
Royce as a flying test-bed for the RB. 211 engine and was destined never to
return to 10 Squadron since it was broken-up at Kemble during 1977 /78 after
having out-lived its usefulness .
On the lst August 1967, Transport Command became Air Support
Command and it fell to a 10 Squadron VC 10 to fly the inaugural service of the
new command on that day. By this time, the unit was welJ settled into its
routine of operating two primary regular routes, one to Hong Kong via
Bahrain, Gan and Singapore outbound, and Singapore, Gan and Cyprus on
the return leg, and the other to John F. Kennedy (New York). There were also
commitments for trooping to Germany, and the squadron was heavily utilized
in the deployment of troops to Anguilla and Northern Ireland and in support of
the withdrawal from Aden. In fact, during 1968, the VC 1 Os carried nearly a
third of all passengers flown by Air Support Command.
On the lst October, 1968, the new passenger terminal finally came into use
and VC 10 flights were at last able to be fully self-contained at their home base.
Meanwhile, 5 3 Squadron continued on its less glamourous but no less
important job moving large amounts of cargo and equipment around the world
and on the 4th July 1969, the unit received its standard from Air Chief Marshal
Sir John Grandy, appropriately, during its 53rd year.
Among the many unusual loads carried by the Belfast were several historic
aircraft collected from various parts of the world for the RAF Museum,
including a Supermarine Stranraer flying-boat from Canada and a Seagull V
amphibian from Australia, both of which now reside at Hendon. The Belfast
also had a regular task of taking Hercules wings to America for attention by
Lockheed, the only RAF aircraft capable of doing this, something in fact,
which was said about it many times during its career.
By early 1970, the build-up of the RAF's Hercules fleet was complete and
consequently, there was little room left at Lyneham for the two Britannia
C.1/C.2 Squadrons, Nos 99 and 511, which accordingly moved into Brize
Norton during June to take up residence on the old B-47 Reflex pans on the
south side of the airfield.
Despite their comparative age, the Britannias still performed a vital task,
operating into places such as Gibraltar, which, because of runway restrictions,
were denied to the VCIOs. The two squadrons'total complement was 22
aircraft, comprising 19 C 1 s and 3 C2s. There had originally been a total of 23
RAF Britannias, but Cl XL638 had been written off in an accident at
Khormaksar, Aden on the 13th October 1967, although its forward fuselage
later arrived at Brize for use as a ground training aid with the Air Movements
Other time expired aircraft which were consume-d on that same dump by
Brize's fire section have included an Anson C19, Comet C2 (XK669),
Shackleton MR2 (WR955), Varsity TI (WJ886) and more recently, Devon
C2/2 (VP978). In addition to these, the already mentioned Air Movements
School has also made use of an ex 103 Squadron Whirlwind 10 (XK987), an
Army Air Corps Sioux AH I (XT141)andthefuselageof Andover Cl XS598
which had been written off after overshooting at Abingdon.
Bristol Britannia C. I XL636 from 99/ 511 Sqns, photographed before the units moved to Brize
Norton. With the disbanding of the Britannia Squadrons, ' 636 was sold to Young Air Cargo
of Belgium as 00-YCE.
(Mick Allen)
Short Belfast Cl XR366 "Atlas", taxies out past Base Hangar during the types swan-song
period at Brize. This was in fact the last Belfast to leave, finally going to Kemble for storage on
the 3rd October, 1977.
(RAF Brize Norton)
Short Belfast C.1 XR371, awaiting sale at RAF Kemble, following its withdrawal from 53
Squadron service. The photo was taken on the 16th February 1978 and the aircraft was later sold
to Rolls-Royce for its engines.
(Mick Allen)
HS Argosy El XP439 "Theseus" of 115 Sqn, seen during a trip to Lossiemouth. This aircraft
was eventually to end its days here, when it was delivered for use by the station's fire section
on the 13th September 1977.
(Mick Allen)
- -
XR143, an Argosy of 115 Squadron, climbs out on its final departure to Kemble on the
30th January, 1978. Appropriately, this aircraft, which was also the last production RAF
Argosy, was named "Omega"
(RAF Brize Norton)
HS Andover C.1 XS641, newly delivered to 115 Sqn and paying an early visit to Lossiemouth.
(Mick Allen)
- ------ - ·--
115 Squadron' s first Andover E3 XS603, back at Brize after conversion, but still awaiting
repainting in the new red, white and grey colour scheme.
(RAF Brize Norton)
BAC VClO C.1 XV102 of 10 Squadron.
(RAF Brize Norton)
>ii:< ROYAL ~ l   fORC(
. ::;:s:-•,x WX I a k AWL
0 _:
· 1 0 2
In 197 4, the Cyprus conflict occurred necessitating the evacuation at very
short notice to the UK of thousands of Service and civilian families. Over
7 ,500 people were air-lifted out of Cyprus in the biggest operation of its kind
for many years. A total of 95 sorties were flown by the Squadrons of Brize
Norton in the 12 days of the operation. On one day, (25 July) 42 aircraft
movements were successfully handled, their loads varying from full loads of
100-130 evacuees inbound to aircraft full of military stores and medical and
welfare supplies bound for Cyprus.
In the same year, the cut backs announced in the Defence Review were to
have a profound effect on the number and type of aircraft flying out of Brize
Norton. It was decided to dispose of the Britannias straight away, to be
followed shortly afterwards by the Belfasts. Consequently, the run-down of 99
and 511 began on the 25th April 197 5 with the departure of XM51 7 and
XN398 to St. Athan for storage, and ended with their disbandment on the last
day of the year, at which time, only XL637, XL658, XL660 and XM498
remained on strength. The aircraft were offered for sale on the civil market and
eventually, most of them were taken into use in Britain and abroad as cargo
aircraft, although some were broken for spares.
The Belfast servicing, which up to this time had been carried out at
Abingdon, was now moved to Brize with the extra hangar space made available
by the departure of the Britannias. However, the first aircraft XR364,
departed for 5 MU Kemble on the 3rd June 1976. It was originally intended
that all ten aircraft would be gone shortly after the squadron disbanded on the
14th September, but in the event, XR366 was retained at Brize until the 3rd
October 1977. During this time it was used as a demonstrator for potential
customers and also carried a Hawk simulator to RAF Valley, Anglesey.
All this change left Brize as a large airfield with few aeroplanes, but the
balance had been redressed somewhat by the arrival during 1975/6 ofNo 115
Squadron from Cottesmore, Rutland. Equipped with Argosy Els, the
squadron's task was to calibrate service ground radio and radar aids. Once
again, change was already planned here, and during June 1976, the first
Andovers appeared, heralding the run-down of the Argosy fleet, although the
last aircraft (XR140) did not leave until the lOth February 1978, by which
time the Andover fleet had built up to 6, with modifications under way to bring
the aircraft up from C 1 to E3 standard.
With the arrival of the Andovers and the setting up of an Andover Servicing
Flight, Brize Norton assumed responsibility for the overhaul of all examples of
the type within the RAF, with the exception of the Queen's Flight machines,
which remained in the charge of their own unit. Later, a seventh Andover was
added to Brize's strength, although this aircraft (XS643) was allocated for
crew conversion to No 241 OCU which had been at Brize for many years,
"borrowing" VClOs and Belfasts for training purposes.
Other units to move into Brize Norton during 1976 included No 1
Parachute Training School from Abingdon, which makes use of Lyneham
Transport Wing Hercules for parachute training at nearby Weston-on-the-
Green and South Cerney aerodromes, in addition to which, it provides the
Falcons parachute display team. No 38 Group Tactical Communications
Wing also arrived, together with the Joint Air Transport Establishment
JATE is the descendent of the old TCDU, so well known at Brize in the
past, and although it does not possess any aircraft of its own, it too makes
considerable use of Lyne ham C-130s for trials. Load carrying by helicopter is
also an integral part of JATE's work, and various types such as Wessex, Puma
and Sea King, can frequently be seen.
During most of 1976 and part of 1977 Brize handled the Master Diversion
and Foreign Visiting Aircraft commitment for the area whilst the runways at
Lyneham were receiving attention. This naturally resulted in a large increase
in the amount of visiting aircraft and during this time, more than 30 different air
forces were represented, with a large proportion of these using the ubiquitous
C-130. Another visitor which has also become part ofBrize's way of life in
recent years, is Concorde, with British Airways using the base every three or
four months for two-week crew training periods, although lack of new routes
for the aircraft brought a halt to this programme late in 1978.
One of the most interesting and continuing aspects of the station's work is
the provision of VC 1 Os for VIP flights, with various members of the Royal
Family, prime ministers and cabinet ministers, being carried to all parts of the
globe on many occasions. Thus, despite Britain's shrinking military presence
overseas 10 Squadron still manages to find itself in exotic places.
While under the USAF during the fifties and early sixties, Brize Norton was
known as "SAC's Gateway to the UK". This theme is re-inforced by the
Station's heraldic shield, approved by Her Majesty The Queen in 1968, which
symbolizes the Station's location by use of the Cotswold Gateway surround-
ing an armorial helmet in order to depict its present role as the military
gateway to the world.
As if to illustrate this role, in December 1979, "out of the blue" came the
need to establish a monitoring force in Rhodesia, codenamed Operation Agila.
RAF Brize Norton was heavily involved in the round-the-clock airlift to ferry
troops and equipment to Zimbabwe-Rhodesia for the cease-fire force to
monitor the independence elections.
Once again, RAF Brize Norton showed its ability to react to the call for
logistics back up for an operational environment. It proved conclusively that
when the need arises the means will be found. Over the   ~ days of the
deployment phase a total of 42 aircraft were loaded and despatched, and a
grand total of 1.1 million pounds of equipment, together with 860 passengers,
were moved.
RAF Brize Norton can be justly proud of its past and can look forward with
optimism to a future which promises to be just as busy.
Representative transport aircraft of No. 38 Gp lined up outside Base Hanger RAF Brize Norton
at the time of the 1974 Defence Review.
(RAF Brize Norton)
The Cyprus Airlift 1974 - Service and civilian families disembark from a VClO at RAF Brize
(RAF Brize Norton)
A Concorde of British Airways taxiing at RAF Brize Norton prior to a training flight.
(RAF Brize Norton)
Logistics co-operation during Operation Agila. A Galaxy of Military Airlift Command USAF
being loaded with helicopter alongside VCIO on the pan at RAF Brize Norton.
(RAF Brize Norton)
The JATE Hercules carrying out an Ultra Low Level Airdrop (ULLA).
The RAF Free-Fall Parachute Display Team, The Falcons, performing a linked 4 man diamond
exit from the ramp of a Hercules C 130 into a 120mph slipstream. Speeds of between 120 and
180 mph can be reached during free-fall.
(RAF Brize Norton)
Lockheed C-130E 84001 and Douglas C-47 79004 of the Swedish Air Force at Brize during
the visit by F20 wing's Sk 60's in June 1975.
(RAF Brize Norton)
A view of some of the 14 Saab Sk.60s of F.20 wing of the Swedish Air Force, which paid a
courtesy visit to Brize on the 5th June 197 5, during a short tour of RAF bases.
(RAF Brize Norton)
Supermarine Seagull V VH-ALB shortly after its return to the UK aboard a 53 Squadron Belfast
from Australia, in 1969. The aircraft had been entered in the England-Australia air race. but
was damaged on the outbound journey to England, as evidenced by the torn fuselage. It was
subsequently presented to the RAF Museum and is now on display at Hendon.
(RAF Brize Norton)
Photographed in November 1978, this Horsa fuselage section was "rediscovered" in a Carterton
back garden, after lying in the same spot for over thirty years. It was later rescued by the Brizc
Norton Aviation Society, and during the recovery, the large sprung landing skid was also found
in the undergrowth.
One of the small hangars built outside the airfield after the air raid of the 16th August, 1940.
This is the only one still standing, and is now in use as a vehicle workshop in Carterton village.
The service graves at Black Bourton, with the names of many foreign and Dominion airmen who
died during flying training and on operations.
Units and examples
of their aircraft
2 FTS, 7.9.37-14.7.42 (later 2 SFTS
and 2 (P) AFU)
Hart Trainer K3757, K3759, K3760
Audax K5139, K5156 - K5158,
K5207, K5587, K5599, K7311,
K7339, K7343, K7351, K7352,
K7365, K7367, K7422, K7485,
K7486 (crashed at sea 12.7.39)
Hart Special K4376
Fury II K8227, K8232, K8269
Harvard N7146, P5894, P5899
Oxford N4578, N4761, N4762,
N4763, N4770, N4777, N4778,
N4780, N4781, N4789, N4845,
N4853, N6367, N6368, N6384,
N6407, N6409, N6432, N6436,
N6437 (all the foregoing were des-
troyed in the air raid on 16.8.40),
L9656 (written off after stalling on
approach 30.8.40), N4787 (written
off during landing 31.8.40), N4570,
N4575, N4579, N4584, N4586,
N4588, N4591, N6268, T1002,
T1005, T1013, T1019
Station Flight
Don L2415
DH.60 X5027
Tiger Moth
15 SFTS, 11.6.40-19.8.40
101 Sqn, 6.9.39-15.9.39
Blenheim IV
110 Sqn, 6.9.39-13.9.39
Blenheim IV
1525 BAT Flt, 18.2.42-16.7.42
HGCU (later 21 HGCU) 15.7.42-
14.3.44 and 20.10.44-31.12.45
Horsa DP279-DP285, DP288,
DP289, DP291-DP294, DP303,
DP304, DP306, DP310, DP314,
DP383, DP389, DP528, DP714-
DP717, DP743, DP745, DP747,
DP748, DP751, DP755, DP756,
DP763.:.DP765, DP769, DP770,
DP772, DP773, DP776, DP777,
DP794-DP796, DP798, DP807,
DP808, HSlOl, HS103, HS105,
HS108, LG749, LH501, RX618
Whitley GT.V BD502, BD512,
BD557-BD559, EB308, LA873,
Hadrian FR564, FR567, FR572-
.PR575, FR577-FR579, 42-52858,
42-53236, 42-56240, 42-56331,
42-62193, 42-73883, 42-73931,
42-77065, 42-77363, 42-79349,
42-79446, 42-79447, 43-19779,
43-40849, 43-41220, 43-41384,
43-41387, 44-0438
Albemarle P1367, P1382, P1440,
Tiger Moth
Halifax A.7 PP364, PP367, PP373,
296 Sqn, 14.3.44-30.9.44 3920th Air Base Group 1954-1965
Albemarle Vl 765, Vl 774, Vl 775, B-47E 20448, 20496, 20517, 20581
V1815, V1817, V1818, V1821, C-47 0.224172, 0.315352, 0.315943,
V1822 0.316048, 0.349158
297 Sqn, 14.3.44-30.9.44 and
5.9.46-8.47 305th Bomb Wing, 4.9.53-12.53
Albermarle Vl 769, Vl 771, Vl 772, B-47B
V1773, V1776, V1778, V1781,
Vl 782, V1817, V1823, V1825 320th Bomb Wing, 6.6.54-9.54
Halifax A.9 B-47B
TCDU, 30.12.45-30.6.49
Stirling V PJ958
Dakota KP208
Halifax A. 7 /9
York C.1
Hoverfly 1 KLI 10
Hoverfly II KN837, KN839, KN840,
Buckingham C.2 KV365
Hastings C .1
Valetta C.1
CFS (Examining Wing), 5. 7.49-
Harvard T.2B
Anson C.XII
204 AFS, 15.8.49-9.6.50
Mosquito T. 3 RR297, RR299, RR308,
LR581, VT605, VT606, VT620,
321 st Air Refuelling Sqn, 9.12.54-
310th ARS, 15.3.55-6.55
40th ARS, 6.55-8.9.55
384th Bomb Wing, 5.1.57-9.4.57
380th Bomb Wing, 29.3.57-7.7.57
This wing also operated the final
reflex detachment, which ended on
the 3rd of April 1965, with the
departure of the following aircraft:
0.31865, 0.31869, 0.31884, 0.31903,
0.31908, 0.31922, 0.31923, 0.31925,
0.31948, 0.31952, 0.31954, 0.32120,
0.32132, 0.32355, 0.32399, 0.36224,
Mosquito FB.6 LR308, PZ307, 68th Bomb Wing, 21.9.57-8.1.58
RF890, RS551, TE657, VL730, B-47E
Tiger Moth T7025
11 th Bombardment Wing, 6.52
B-36D, B-36F
301st Bomb Wing, 1.12.52-7.3.53
B-50, KB-29P
43rd Bomb Wing, 7.3.53-17.6.53
B-50, KB-29P
90th ARS, ? -8.1.58
lOOth Bomb Wing 4.1.58-1.4.58
376th ARS, 8.1.58-?
301st Bomb/Reconnaisance Wing,
(various dates between 1958 and
1964. These missions were also
flown by aircraft of the 98th SW and
55th SRW, which both had origins in,
or connections with, the 30lst).
RB-4 7H, 0.34280, 0.34287, 34292,
0.34293, 0.34299, 0.34300, 0.34302,
0.34308, 0.34298
ERB-4 7H 0.36245-0.3624 7, 0.36249
40th Bomb Wing, 4.64-30.6.64
310th Bomb Wing, 29.6.64-?
After early 1958, with the adoption of
the Reflex Alert, the B-4 7 s rotated in
much smaller numbers than previously,
and more rapidly, so an exact account
of which units were present at what
time is not possible, although it is
known that the 2nd Bomb Wing was
present in 1958 and 1959.
10 Sqn, 23.5.67-present
VClO C.1 XR806-XR810, XV101-
241 OCU, reformed 1.7.70-present
VC 10, Belfast and Britannia aircratl
"borrowed" from the squadrons as
Andover C.1 XS643
99/511 Sqns, 16.6.70-31.12.75
Aircraft not allocated to individual
Britannia C.1 XL635 - XL637,
XL639, XL640, XL657-XL660,
XM489-XM491, XM496-XM498,
XM5 l 7-XM520
Britannia C.2 XN392, XN398,
115 Sqn, 1975-present
ArgosyE.1 XN816,XN855,XP439,
XP448, XR137, XR140, XR143
Andover C.1/E.3 XS603, XS605,
XS610, XS639, XS640, XS641
JATE, 1976-present
Serials ofTDY B-47s have generally Hercules C Mk 1 (on permanent loan
not been quoted, since although a from 38 Gp)
great many are known, unit allocation
is uncertain in most cases.
53 Sqn, 5.67-14.9.76
Belfast C.1 XR362-XR371
Although this list is obviously far
from complete, it contains all the
serials traced to date and should serve
as a basis for further research.
Aircraft handled by 6 MU
(with examples where known)
Cloud K3724, 25, 29, K4300
Spitfire SL616 (Mk.16), X4596 (1),
RW382 (16), LA215 (21)
Defiant Nl 755, Nl 754, Nl 792
Halifax A.7 PP364
Horsa TL619, TL726, TL615,
Spiteful RB516, 17, 19, 20-25,
Seafang VB893, VB895, VG471-
VG482, VG486, VG488-VG490.
(Most, if not all of these were handled
by 6 MU)
Fury II K7281 (as instructional
airframe 15 77M)
Tempest V SN354
Commodore HH979
Monospar ST.25 X9334
Tiger Moth BB704, BB857
Meteor F .4 VT221, VW26 3,
VW264, VW255, 57, 59, 61-68
Meteor T.7 WA616, WA631,
WF839, WF851, WF853, WF875,
WF879, WA618
Ju.88G 622838/ AM3/VK884?
621965/AM9, 621186/AM33,
622461/AM41, 620968/AM47,
62281 l/AM48
Ju. 188A 180485/AM45
Ju. 188D 150245/AM35
Ju. 290A-7 10186/AM6
Ju. 52/3M AM102, 6567 /D-AGAC/
Si. 204D 321523/AM5, 351547/
AM12, 251922/AM13, 221558/
AM28, AM46, 251104/AM49
FW.190A 550214/AMlO, 733682/
AM75, AMll 1, AM230, 584219/
AM29 (2 seater)
FW.189A 0173/AM27
Ta. 152H 150168/AMll
He. 219A 290126/AM20, 310109/
AM21, 310106/AM43, 310215/
He. 162A 120076/AM59/VH523,
120074/AM60, 120086/AM62,
120095/AM63, 120235/AM68
Ar. 234B 140008/AM25/VK880,
140476/AM26/VK877, 140141,
140493, 140581
Bf. llOG 730301/AM34, 420031/
Bf. 109G 413601/AM229
Me. 410A 420430/AM72, 130360/
AM73, 10259/TF209
Bf. 108B 1547/AM76/AM84
Me. 262A 500210/VH519
Do. 217M 56158/AM107
Me. 163B 310061/AM203, 120370/
AM210, 191400/AM214, 191659/
AM215, 191904/AM217, AM200,
AM202, AM204-AM206, AM209,
AM211-AM213, AM216, AM218-
Explanation of German Aircraft Serials.
The first number quoted is the German production or "Werke" number, while
the "AM" number is that allocated by the British Air Ministry for Evaluation
September 19 3 7
May 1939
August 1939
January 1940
May 1941
March 1943
October 1943
April 1944
September 1944
June 1945
December 1945
October 194 7
July 1949
March 1965
January 1968
January 1970
April 1971
January 1974
November 1975
June 1978-
Station Commanders
Group Captain F L Robinson DSO MC DFC
Group Captain C R Carr DFC AFC
Group Captain S Smith DSO AFC
Group Captain E B Rice
Group Captain R H Kershaw
Group Captain J E M MacCullum
Group Captain C A Horn OBE
Group Captain T M Abraham DFC
Group Captain C A Horn OBE
Group Captain F G Argyle-Robinson DFC
Group Captain D J Alvey OBE
Group Captain J M Cohu CBE
Group Captain D W F Bonham-Carter DFC
Lieutenant Colonel H 0 Hamilton USAF
Colonel C B Steely USAF
Colonel T G Corbin USAF
Colonel W M Van Sickle USAF
Colonel F M Hardison USAF
Colonel E A Loberg USAF
Colonel 0 0 Schurter USAF
Colonel E D Edwards USAF
Colonel E F Arnold USAF
Colonel E A Van Dyke USAF
Colonel H C Bayne USAF
Group Captain R G Wilson DFC AFC
Group Captain D L Attlee MVO
Group Captain T L Kennedy AFC
Group Captain J Richardson MBE AFC MBIM
Group Captain P A Ward
Group Captain R D Bates AFC
Group Captain W H Croydon OBE
great many people and organisations have given me assistance in the form
of information and/or photographs, and they are: Barry Cooper, Em
Loader, Bunny Shayler, Gordon Giles, Tony Giles, Mick Burnett, Bob
Humphries, Bill Preston, Stan Coles, Peter Corbell, George Pennick, Mick
Allen, Tom Southam, Dave Woodland and Bert Goodare.
Airfix Magazine, Southend Aeronews, Air Britain, Control Column,
Messrs Putnam and Co., Military Aviation Review, Oxford Times, Ministry
of Defence (Air Historical Branch), Imperial War Museum, Flight Inter-
national, Merseyside Aviation Society, 1361 st Audiovisual Squadron
(USAF), The Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany, Public Record
Office, South East Air Review, Headquarters Strategic Air Command,
Headquarters Third Air Force (USAFE), The Boeing Airplane Co, JATE,
and RAF Brize Norton.