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RAF Wing

Ensign of the Royal Air Force

Type Royal Air Force station
Coordinates Latitude:
Longitude:
Built 1941 (1941)/2
In use 1941-1956 (1956)
Current
owner
Air Ministry

Royal Air Force Station Wing or more simply RAF Wing is a former Royal Air Force bomber training station, situated just west of the village of Wing, in the Aylesbury Vale district of Buckinghamshire, established on the site of a small aerodrome.

MottoEdit

The motto written on the Navigation Section at Wing was “MAN IS NOT LOST”. Someone had written graffiti underneath this: “But occasionally is completely unaware of his exact location".[1]

HistoryEdit

ConstructionEdit

Construction included five hangars for the aircraft, two runways, offices, a canteen, rest rooms, blast shelters, radio and telegraph rooms, training blocks, church, gym, squash court, rugby and football field, tailors, barbers, shoemakers, Post Office, a cinema, and stores.[1]

Thirteen sites of living quarters were erected, each with up to 20 Nissen huts, some toilets, and one or two air-raid shelters. Members of the Women's Auxiliary Air Force had their own site closer to Wing village, much of which can still be seen today. There was also a hospital close to Cublington that is still standing.[2][page needed][1]

OperationsEdit

RAF Wing airfield opened on 17 November 1941, although the upgraded runways were not finished and the first flight did not occur until March 1942. The station was used primarily as a training facility, but some operational missions were also flown from there. No. 26 Operational Training Unit RAF for Bomber Command was formed at Wing 15 January 1942 as a 2/3 status unit within No. 7 Group, equipped with Vickers Wellingtons to train night bomber crews.[3]

The two operational squadrons were No. 268 Squadron RAF and No. 613 Squadron RAF. 613 squadron was the first to join on 1 March 1943 with North American Mustang's[4] and 268 joined a day later with the same type of aircraft and left on 6 March 1943[5] with 613 Squadron leaving one day later going to RAF Bottisham.[4]

In April and May 1945, RAF Wing served as a gateway for tens of thousands of men returning from duty in Europe.[6]

Nearby activityEdit

RAF dog handlers were at the Hawker Aircraft Factory on Langley Airfield. The airmen cycled to local pubs in Wing, Stewkley, Cheddington and Cublington in the evenings or to local train stations on their days off so they could go home and see their families. Often entertainment was put on at the airfield as well, such as dancing. There were also weekly dances at Wing village hall.[2][page needed][1]

ClosureEdit

RAF Wing was closed 4 April 1956.[7]

London AirportEdit

In the late 1960s the former airfield was considered for the site of the third London Airport following a publication of a report by the Roskill commission.[8] Wing was considered to be ideally situated for access from all parts of the country and only fifty miles from London.[8] Within a few days of Wing being identified as a possible site a local airport resistance association was formed to oppose the airport.[9] A public inquiry was opened at Aylesbury on 14 July 1969 that followed a protest by 2,000 anti-airport supporters through Aylesbury.[10]

RAF units and aircraftEdit

Unit Dates Aircraft Variant Notes
No. 268 Squadron RAF 1943 North American Mustang I Based for a few days in March 1943[5]
No. 613 Squadron RAF 1943 North American Mustang I Based for a few days in March 1943[4]
No. 26 Operational Training Unit RAF 1942-1946 Vickers Wellington Also operated a wide range of training and support aircraft, for example the Avro Anson, carried out operational sorties in 1942.[11]
No. 60 Group Communications Flight 1945-1946 Vickers Wellington Also operate a DH Tiger Moth and a DH Moth Minor
No. 60 Group Radar Nav Aids Test Flight 1945 Vickers Wellington X [12]
No. 282 Maintenance Unit RAF 1952-1954 None Explosives Storage - Operated from 1952-1954 as a sub-site, transferred to the USAF in 1954.[13]

Modern dayEdit

Chicken houses have been built on the runway alignments as the former airfield returned to agriculture.[1][7]

IncidentsEdit

  • One of the five hangars was destroyed when struck during a bad crash landing.[6]
  • On 12 September 1942, the prototype Martin-Baker MB 3 fighter, R2492, crashed on its tenth flight after its engine seized shortly after takeoff from RAF Wing at a height of no more than 100 feet. A crank on one of the Napier Sabre II's sleeve valves had failed. While trying to land in a field, Captain Valentine Baker (Company manager, aircraft-designer and test pilot) was forced to turn to port to avoid a farmhouse, a wing clipped a tree stump, the fighter cartwheeled and burst into flame, killing him.[14] The MB 3 had arrived at RAF Wing for trials in August.[6]
  • On the night of 3/4 June 1943, a Vickers Wellington Type 440 B Mk. X bomber, HE746, of 26 OTU, RAF, was on a flight from RAF Wing, departing there at 2340 hrs, when it suffered a failure to one of its Bristol Hercules engines. "The crew advised flying control at RAF Dumfries of their situation and requested an emergency landing; unfortunately the aircraft crashed 2 miles from the airfield runway.[15] Three of the crew were killed and two others were seriously injured. This aircraft was to become the catalyst for the foundation of the Dumfries and Galloway Aviation Museum.[16]

ReferencesEdit

CitationsEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 "War in the air - Wing". Buckinghamshire County Council. https://ubp.buckscc.gov.uk/SingleResult.aspx?uid=%27TBC567%27. Retrieved 17 February 2014. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 Brooks 2000, p. 00.
  3. "No 26 Operational Training Unit". Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation. http://www.rafweb.org/OTU_2.htm. Retrieved 17 February 2014. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Jefford 1988, p. 100.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Jefford 1988, p. 81.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 "Wing in the Military - WWII". Alex Coles. http://www.wing-ops.org.uk/military-WWII.html. Retrieved 17 February 2014. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 "Wing". Airfields of Britain Conservation Trust. http://www.abct.org.uk/airfields/wing. Retrieved 17 February 2014. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 ARTHUR REED Air Correspondent. "Foulness and Wing most likely airports." Times [London, England] 4 Mar. 1969: 1. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 20 Feb. 2014.
  9. "£16,500 for 'no airport' campaign." Times [London, England] 10 Mar. 1969: 2. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 20 Feb. 2014.
  10. BYRON ROGERS. "2,000 march in airport protest." Times [London, England] 14 July 1969: 2. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 20 Feb. 2014.
  11. Sturtivant 2007, p. 202
  12. Sturtivant 2007, p. 161
  13. Sturtivant 2007, p. 184
  14. Editors, "A Real Contender", Database, Aeroplane, Berry's Hill, Cudham, Kent, UK, December 2010, No. 452, Volume 38, Number 12, pages 65–66.
  15. "Leslie Arthur Southam". Trafford War Dead. http://www.traffordwardead.co.uk/index.php?sold_id=s%3A18%3A%22392%2Caltrincham_ww2%22%3B&letter=S&place=&war=&soldier=Southam. Retrieved 17 February 2014. 
  16. "History of the Museum". Dumfries and Galloway Aviation Museum. http://www.dumfriesaviationmuseum.com/aviation/history-of-the-museum/. Retrieved 18 February 2014. 

BibliographyEdit

  • Brooks, R (2000). Thames Valley Airfields in the Second World War. Newbury: Countryside Books. ISBN 1-85306-633-8. 
  • 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. 
  • Sturtivant, Ray (2007). RAF Flying Training and Support Units since 1912. Air-Britain. ISBN 0-85130 365 X. 

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