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RAF Cranage

Ensign of the Royal Air Force

Located Near Middlewich, Cheshire, England
Type Royal Air Force station
Coordinates Latitude: 53.2230556
Longitude: -2.4
Built 1939
In use 1940–1958
Occupants RAF Flying Training Command
Battles/wars Second World War

RAF Cranage was a Royal Air Force station during the Second World War. It was located just to the North of Middlewich, Cheshire, England.


The site at Cranage was chosen for use as a training base and aircraft maintenance unit in August 1939. Originally just a grass airfield, three runways were later built from American metal plank. The airfield unusually had eight blister hangars for maintenance use.

The first flying unit was No. 2 School of Air Navigation which was formed on 21 October 1940. It operated the twin-engined Avro Anson for training navigators. In 1942 the unit was renamed the Central Navigation School and the strength was increased to 58 Ansons, they were joined two years later by a number of Vickers Wellingtons in the same role.

As well as the training role, the airfield also housed an operational squadron from December 1940 with the formation of 96 Squadron which was equipped with Hawker Hurricanes. This unit operated in the night air-defence role, mainly in the protection of the industrial and port areas of Liverpool.

A Vickers-Armstrongs shadow factory assembling Wellingtons, was situated at Byley but close to the airfield. The completed aircraft would be towed from the factory to the airfield for their first flight and onward delivery. In July 1942 1531 Flight was formed as a Beam Approach Training Flight using the Airspeed Oxford. Aircrew were taught the techniques of the-then new airfield approach aid. A United States Army Air Forces liaison flight, operating Sentinels, also worked from the site in 1944.

The only flying unit on the airfield after the war was No. 190 Gliding School which was formed in May 1945 and operated from the site for two years. With their departure, flying ceased at Cranage. The airfield was used for storage and maintenance until it closed in 1958.

RAF units and aircraftEdit

Unit Dates Aircraft Variant Notes
No. 96 Squadron RAF 1940-1941 Hawker Hurricane I Night-fighter.[1]
1940-1941 Boulton Paul Defiant I [1]
No. 307 Squadron RAF 1940-1941 Boulton Paul Defiant I Detachment from RAF Jurby.[2]
No. 2 School of Air Navigation 1940-1942 Avro Anson Renamed the Central Navigation School
Central Navigation School 1942-1944 Avro Anson
Vickers Wellington
No. 1531 Beam Approach Training Flight 1942-1945 Airspeed Oxford
No. 61 Maintenance Unit RAF 1945-1954 None

United States Army Air Forces units and aircraftEdit

Unit Dates Aircraft Notes
No. 14 Liaison Squadron 1944- Stinson L-5 Sentinel

See alsoEdit



  1. 1.0 1.1 Jefford 1988, p. 53.
  2. Jefford 1988, p. 85.


  • Ferguson, Aldon (2008). Cheshire Airfields in the Second World War. Newbury, UK: Countryside Books. ISBN 978-1-85306-927-7. 
  • 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 CITEREFJefford1988. 

External linksEdit

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