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RAF Church Fenton
Ensign of the Royal Air Force.svg
Control tower at RAF Church Fenton
Airport type Military
Owner Ministry of Defence
Operator Royal Air Force
Location Church Fenton
Built 1937
In use 1937 – 2013
Elevation AMSL 30 ft / 9 m
Coordinates 53°50′04″N 001°11′44″W / 53.83444°N 1.19556°W / 53.83444; -1.19556Coordinates: 53°50′04″N 001°11′44″W / 53.83444°N 1.19556°W / 53.83444; -1.19556

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Direction Length Surface
ft m
06/24 6,158 1,877 Asphalt
16/34 5,466 1,666 Asphalt

Royal Air Force Station Church Fenton or RAF Church Fenton (ICAO: EGXG) is a Royal Air Force station located 4.3 miles (6.9 km) south east of Tadcaster, North Yorkshire, England and 6.3 miles (10.1 km) north west of Selby North Yorkshire, near the village of Church Fenton.

History[edit | edit source]

Prewar[edit | edit source]

Plans for a new airfield adjacent to the village of Church Fenton were announced in June 1935, it was subject to protest from the local population particularly concerning the waste of valuable farming land and was close to an existing airfield 2 mi (3.2 km) away at Sherburn. Despite the protests construction started in early 1936 on the 260 acres (1.1 km2) site, a mixture of private and West Riding County Council-owned farm land. On 1 April 1937 the station was declared open and on 19 April the first station commander Wing Commander W.E. Swann assumed command. Within two months No. 71 Squadron RAF had arrived with the Gloster Gladiator.

Second World War[edit | edit source]

Opened in 1937,[1] it saw the peak of its activity during the years of the Second World War, when it served within the defence network of fighter bases of the RAF providing protection for the Leeds, Bradford, Sheffield and Humberside industrial regions.

During September 1940 it became home to the first RAF "Eagle squadron" of American volunteers being No. 71 Squadron RAF. The airfield was also home to both the first all-Canadian and all-Polish squadrons, with No. 242 Squadron RAF for the Canadians and No. 306 Squadron RAF for the Polish.[2]

As technologies evolved, the first night fighter Operational Training Unit (54 OTU) was formed at Church Fenton in 1940 and stayed until 1942.[3] Some of the squadrons stationed there flew the famous de Havilland Mosquito.

Postwar[edit | edit source]

After the war it at first retained its role as a fighter base, being among the first to receive modern jet aircraft, namely the Gloster Meteor[4] and the Hawker Hunter.[4] Between October 1950 and March 1957 it was the base of No. 609 Squadron RAF, within the Royal Auxiliary Air Force and named "North Riding". The unit was equipped with Gloster Meteors.[5]

Hunting Jet Provost of No. 7 Flying Training School which was based at Church Fenton 1962-1966 and 1979-1992

In later years, its role was mainly flight training. No 7 Flying Training School was based here between 1962 and 1966 and again between 1979 and 1992, equipped with Hunting Jet Provost jet trainers.[6]

For some years it was home to the Royal Navy Elementary Flying Training School (RNEFTS) using the Jet Provost T3,[7] and again 1979-1992, triggered by the introduction of the Panavia Tornado, being the first station to receive the new turboprop-powered Short Tucano T1 basic fast jet trainers. From 1998-2003 Church Fenton was the RAF's main Elementary Flying Training airfield.

2003-present[edit | edit source]

On 25 March 2013 it was announced that Church Fenton will close by the end of 2013. The units will be relocated to another unknown airfield.[8]

Yorkshire Universities Air Squadron and ATC[edit | edit source]

The station is still home to Yorkshire Universities Air Squadron and it is from there that they conduct their flying training in the Grob Tutor Aircraft. Much of the station is now derelict and fenced off and the Officers Mess has been demolished. The airside section of the station remains open with various hangars incorporating YUAS’s aircraft, engineering support, fire/ambulance facilities and a sports hangar. The station still has a fully functioning and manned Air Traffic Control Tower.

The Station headquarters remains and incorporates YUAS’s administration, presentation and social facilities. There is a canteen facility known as the "feeder" and a basic accommodation block.

RAF Church Fenton is also home to 2434 (Church Fenton) Squadron Air Training Corps.

Current operational units[edit | edit source]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

Citations[edit | edit source]

Bibliography[edit | edit source]

  • Halley, James J. The Squadrons of the Royal Air Force & Commonwealth, 1981-1988. Tonbridge, Kent, UK: Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd., 1988. ISBN 0-85130-164-9.
  • Halpenny, B,B. Action Stations: Military Airfields of Yorkshire v. 4.Patrick Stephens Ltd, 1982. ISBN 978-0850595321.
  • Sturtivant, R. RAF Flying Training and Support Units since 1912. Air Britain, 2007. ISBN 0-85130-365-X.

External links[edit | edit source]

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