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RAF Ashford
USAAF Station AAF-417

Ensign of the Royal Air Force.svgPatch9thusaaf.pngAir Force Ensign of Canada (1941-1968).svg
Ashford Airfield, taken on 11 May 1944, during the tenure of the 406th Fighter Group, 3 weeks before D-Day.
IATA: none – ICAO: none
Airport type Military
Owner Air Ministry
Operator Royal Canadian Air Force
Royal Air Force
United States Army Air Forces
Location Ashford, Kent, United Kingdom
Built 1944 (1944)
In use 1944-1944 (1944)
Elevation AMSL 125 ft / 38 m
Coordinates 51°07′31″N 000°48′58″E / 51.12528°N 0.81611°E / 51.12528; 0.81611Coordinates: 51°07′31″N 000°48′58″E / 51.12528°N 0.81611°E / 51.12528; 0.81611

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Direction Length Surface
ft m
04/22 0 0 Asphalt
14/32 0 0 Asphalt

RCAF Mustang performing runway testing on Runway 04-22, October 1943

Republic P-47D-27-RE Thunderbolt Serial 42-6887 of the 512th Fighter Squadron

512th and 514th Fighter Squadron P-47s prepare to take off on runway 15-33. Note aircraft painted in D-Day invasion markings

Republic P-47D-27-RE Thunderbolt Serial 42-26922 of the 512th Fighter Squadron. Note the C-47 in background.

RAF Ashford is a former Royal Air Force Advanced Landing Ground in Kent, England. The landing ground is located approximately 3 miles (4.8 km) west of Ashford; about 50 miles (80 km) southeast of London

Opened in 1943, Ashford was one of several a prototypes for the temporary Advanced Landing Ground airfields built in France after D-Day, required as the Allied forces moved east across France and Germany. It was used by British, Dominion and the United States Army Air Forces. It was closed in September 1944.

Today the airfield is a mixture of agricultural fields with no recognisable remains.

History[edit | edit source]

Unit Dates Aircraft Variant Notes
No. 65 Squadron RAF October 1943 Supermarine Spitfire IX [1]
No. 122 Squadron RAF October 1943 Supermarine Spitfire IX [2]
No. 414 Squadron RCAF August–October 1943 North American Mustang I Part of the Canadian Reconnaissance Wing
No. 430 Squadron RCAF August–October 1943 North American Mustang I Part of the Canadian Reconnaissance Wing

United States Army Air Forces use[edit | edit source]

Ashford was known as USAAF Station AAF-417 for security reasons by the USAAF during the war, and by which it was referred to instead of location. It's USAAF Station Code was "AF".

406th Fighter Group[edit | edit source]

On 5 April the airmen of the 406th Fighter Group arrived, having crossed the Atlantic by troopship. The group arrived from Congaree Army Airfield South Carolina. Operational fighter squadrons and fuselage codes were:

The 406th Fighter Group was part of the 303d Fighter Wing, XIX Tactical Air Command. The 406th Fighter Group conducted its first operation on 9 May and was chiefly involved in fighter-bomber work. On 18 when the 513th started to use ALG A-13 at Tour-en-Bessin. The last remnants of the 406th departed RAF Ashford on 31 July.

Bombing[edit | edit source]

The airfield was bombed during a night-time raid on 22 May 1944, at 12:35 am. A 1,000-pound (450 kg) high-explosive bomb was dropped in the tented area which accommodated the reserve flight pilots and other staff. These were RAF Volunteer Reservists of 5003 Airfield Construction Squadron based at RAF Great Chart, some 1.2 km northeast of the airfield. There were 30 casualties, 14 being fatal.[3]

Current use[edit | edit source]

With the facility released from military control, Ashford was rapidly returned to agricultural use. There is little to indicate that an airfield ever existed at this location.

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

 This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website http://www.afhra.af.mil/.

Citations[edit | edit source]

Bibliography[edit | edit source]

  • The Military Airfields of Britain, pp 30–31, Ken Delve, 2005, Crowood, ISBN 1-86126-729-0
  • Freeman, Roger A. (1994) UK Airfields of the Ninth: Then and Now, 1994. After the Battle ISBN 0-900913-80-0
  • Freeman, Roger A. (1996) The Ninth Air Force in Colour: UK and the Continent-World War Two. After the Battle ISBN 1-85409-272-3
  • Jefford, C.G, MBE,BA ,RAF (Retd). RAF Squadrons, a Comprehensive Record of the Movement and Equipment of all RAF Squadrons and their Antecedents since 1912. Shrewsbury, Shropshire, UK: Airlife Publishing, 1988. ISBN 1-84037-141-2.
  • Maurer, Maurer (1983). Air Force Combat Units Of World War II. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-89201-092-4.
  • USAAS-USAAC-USAAF-USAF Aircraft Serial Numbers--1908 to present
  • British Automobile Association (AA), (1978), Complete Atlas of Britain, ISBN 0-86145-005-1

External links[edit | edit source]

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