|Royal Air Force Station Gibraltar|
RAF Gibraltar crest
|Branch||Royal Air Force|
|Role||Forward operating base (Forward Operating Base), Forward Mounting Base, or Staging Post|
|Size||approx. 45 personnel|
|Part of||British Armed Forces (previously RAF Coastal Command), now under British Forces Gibraltar|
|Nickname(s)||"Gib" or "Jib"|
|Motto(s)||Guard the Gateway|
|Royal Air Force Ensign|
|March||Royal Air Force March Past|
|Equipment||previously: Hawker Hunter, SEPECAT Jaguar|
World War II: Operation Torch |
|Wg Cdr James Holland RAF|
|Station crest||a key rising from the seas|
RAF Gibraltar, also formerly known as North Front, is a Royal Air Force station on Gibraltar. No military aircraft are currently stationed there, but RAF, Commonwealth and aircraft of other NATO nations will periodically arrive for transient stopovers, exercises, or other temporary duty. Administered by British Forces Gibraltar, the station is a joint civil-military facility that also functions as the Rock's civilian airport – Gibraltar Airport, with the civilian airport's passenger terminal building and apron facilities located on the north side of the runway while the apron and hangar of RAF Gibraltar are located on the south side of the runway.
History[edit | edit source]
The airport was constructed during World War II when Gibraltar was an important naval base for the British. Originally opened in 1939, it was only an emergency airfield for the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm. However, the runway was later extended by reclaiming some land from the Bay of Gibraltar using rock blasted from the Rock of Gibraltar while carrying out works on military tunnels. This last major extension of the runway allowed larger aircraft to land at Gibraltar. At this time the airfield completely obliterated the former Gibraltar horse racing track. RAF North Front opened in 1942 and RAF New Camp opened around the same time. The airfield played a major part in Operation Torch, the Anglo-American invasion of French North Africa (French colonial possessions in Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco) during the war.
Following the major reorganization of the Allied air forces at the Casablanca Conference in January 1943, RAF Gibraltar became a major sub-command of the Mediterranean Air Command under Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Tedder in February 1943.
The station officially became "RAF Gibraltar" in 1966.
Units stationed[edit | edit source]
|No. 48 Squadron||Lockheed Hudson|
|No. 179 Squadron||Vickers Wellington|
|No. 202 Squadron||Consolidated Catalina|
|No. 210 Squadron||Catalina|
|No. 233 Squadron||Hudson|
|No. 248 Squadron Detachment||Bristol Beaufighter|
|No. 544 Squadron Detachment||Supermarine Spitfire|
|No. 813 Squadron, Fleet Air Arm||Fairey Swordfish|
|No. 1403 (Meteorological) Flight||Handley Page Hampden, Gloster Gladiator|
Anti-submarine warfare was a major priority of RAF Gibraltar during World War II and some of their aircraft were equipped with special detectors to locate German U-boats in the relatively shallow waters around Gibraltar. United States Navy Fleet Air Wing 15 based at Port Lyautey coordinated its antisubmarine warfare operations with RAF Gibraltar and assigned a ZP-14 Squadron blimp pilot/liaison officer to Gibraltar.
On July 18, 1944, the Commander of RAF Gibraltar, Air Vice-Marshal Alick Stevens, was introduced to the antisubmarine technology of a USN K-ship when ZP-14 Commander Emmett J. Sullivan took him for a short blimp ride. The Goodyear K-112 was the first K-ship to land in Europe earlier the same day.
The airfield, which today is used mainly for civil flights, is unusual in that the main access road from Gibraltar to Spain crosses the airfield, necessitating the road to be closed whenever aircraft movements are in progress. When the RAF holds an exercise, this causes significant disruption to traffic flow. RAF Gibraltar used to have an Avro Vulcan K2 as a gate guard, but this was later scrapped.
On February 4, 2011, The new RAF headquarters in Gibraltar was officially opened by The Chief of Joint Operations, Air Marshal Sir Stuart Peach.
'The Jaguar Building' is the result of several years of planning and follows the enhancement of transport links with Spain, which will include a tunnel under the runway.
The old RAF site was needed for a new air terminal, so the Gibraltar Government agreed to pay for the new Headquarters and it was the perfect opportunity to put all sections under one roof.
Commanding officers[edit | edit source]
- Air Vice-Marshal Sturley Simpson - AOC, AHQ Gibraltar December 1941 to Feb 1944
- Air Vice Marshal William Elliott - AOC, RAF Gibraltar Feb 1944 to June 1944
- Air Vice Marshal Alick Stevens - AOC, RAF Gibraltar June 1944 - August 1945
Gibraltar squadrons[edit | edit source]
Gallery[edit | edit source]
Panoramic view[edit | edit source]
See also[edit | edit source]
References[edit | edit source]
- Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation - RAF Stations
- Richards, D. and H. Saunders, The Royal Air Force 1939-1945 (Volume 2, HMSO, 1953)
- Blimp Squadron 14: Craw Field, Port Lyautey, French Morocco
- Blimp Squadron 14: First transatlantic crossing by non-rigid airships
[edit | edit source]
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to RAF Gibraltar.|
- Airport information for LXGB at World Aero Data. Data current as of October 2006.
- Royal Air Force - RAF Gibraltar
- RAF Gibraltar at RAF Web
- Crest Badge and Information of RAF Gibraltar
- James Rogers and Luis Simón. The Status and Location of the Military Installations of the Member States of the European Union and Their Potential Role for the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP). Brussels: European Parliament, 2009. 25 pp.
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