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RAF Cleave
Ensign of the Royal Air Force
IATA: none – ICAO: none
Airport type Military
Owner Air Ministry
Operator Royal Air Force
Location West of Kilkhampton
Built 1939
In use 1939-1945
Coordinates 50°53′29″N 004°32′51″W / 50.89139°N 4.5475°W / 50.89139; -4.5475Coordinates: 50°53′29″N 004°32′51″W / 50.89139°N 4.5475°W / 50.89139; -4.5475
Cornwall UK location map
Airplane silhouette.svg
RAF Cleave
Location in Cornwall
Direction Length Surface
ft m
06/24 2,250 656 Grass
18/36 2,700 823 Grass

RAF Cleave is a former RAF station located 4.2 miles (6.8 km) north of Bude in Cornwall, United Kingdom which was operational from 1939 until 1945. Despite a few periods of intense activity it was one of Fighter Command's lesser used airfields.


RAF Cleave was conceived as housing target and target support aircraft for firing ranges along the north Cornwall coast and land was acquired from Cleave Manor.

In May 1939 two flights of 1 Anti-Aircraft Co-operation Unit (1 AACU) with the Westland Wallace and a naval steam catapult was soon erected near the cliffs for the pilotless Queen Bee aircraft due to be stationed there. Aircraft were initially housed in temporary Bessonneau hangars (type H of World War I vintage) and later replaced by more permanent structures.

In December 1943, the 4 Flights were amalgamated into 639 Squadron, which served at Cleave for the remainder of the war.

The airfield was put under maintenance in April 1945 and later became a government signals station.

Based SquadronsEdit

Unit Dates Stationed Aircraft Used Duties
1 AACU (D, G & O Flights) - 31 October 1942 Hawker Henley, Westland Wallace Target towing
1602 (AAC) Flt 1 November 1942 – 1 December 1943 Hawker Henley Formed from D Flight 1AACU, Target towing
1603 (AAC) Flt 1 November 1942 – 1 December 1943 Hawker Henley, Fairey Battle Formed from G Flight 1AACU, Target towing
1604 (AAC) Flt 1 November 1942 – 1 December 1943 Hawker Henley, de Havilland Tiger Moth Formed from O Flight 1AACU, Target towing
1618 (AAC) Flt 1 November 1942 – 1 December 1943 de Havilland Tiger Moth, de Havilland Queen Bee Target towing & pilotless targets
639 Sqn 1 December 1943 – 30 April 1945 Hawker Henley, Hawker Hurricane Formed from 1602, 1603 & 1604 Flts.[1]

Current useEdit

Apart from an undisturbed piece of the grass runway to the north, a very short section of concrete track and a few of the married quarters accommodation on Cleave Crescent, the base has been almost completely re-modelled as GCHQ Bude.



  1. Jefford 1988, p. 00.


  • Jefford MBE, Wg Cdr C G (1988). RAF Squadrons. A comprehensive record of the movement and equipment of all RAF squadrons and their antecedents since 1912. Shrewsbury: Airlife. ISBN 1-85310-053-6. 
  • Lake A (1999) Flying units of the RAF, Airlife Publishing Shrewsbury, 316pp & 16 App, ISBN 1-84037-086-6.
  • Smith G (2000) Devon and Cornwall Airfields in the Second World War, Countryside Books Newbury, 288pp, ISBN 1-85306-632-X.
  • Willis S and Holliss B R (1987), Military airfields in the British Isles 1939-1945 (Omnibus Edition), Enthusiasts Publications Newport Pagnell, 283pp, ISBN 0-907700-12-8.

External linksEdit

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