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Royal Air Force Woolsington, or more simply RAF Woolsington, was a civilian airfield that was taken over by the RAF in 1939. It was returned to civilian use in 1946 and is now Newcastle International Airport.


RAF Woolsington opened as a civil airport in July 1935 with a small scale military involvement from the start.[1] An airfield close to Newcastle had first been proposed by the Air Ministry in 1929 and in 1933 suitable sites were being assessed for a runway with Town Moor also being considered. The whole of the site was requisitioned by the Royal Air Force in 1939 on the outbreak of World War II,[2] however, 13 Group Communications Flight had been in existence at Woolsington for a month when war was declared.[3] 43 Elementary and Reserve Flying Training School was formed in June 1939 and was disbanded just three months later in September 1939.[4]

The base served at various times as a satellite of both RAF Acklington and RAF Ouston but saw little operational flying.[5] However, on one notable occasion in 1940, a Spitfire of No. 72 Squadron RAF flying out of Woolsington actually shot down a Ju 88 at night. This was one of the few 'kills' at night attributed to Spitfires.[1]

In 1941, Durham University Air Squadron (DUAS) was formed at Woolsington initially flying Tiger Moth aircraft.[6] The unit stayed behind when all other squadrons and units were transferred out at the end of the Second World War, eventually moving on to RAF Usworth in 1949.[7]

Woolsington's main wartime role was as the base of No. 83 Maintenance Unit which salvaged crashed aircraft over much of the region.[5] After the war civil flying resumed and the airport is now known as Newcastle International Airport.[8]


The following units or squadrons were based at (or used) RAF Woolsington between 1936 and 1946.[9]

See alsoEdit



  • Delve, Ken (2006). The military airfields of Britain - Northern England. Marlborough, Wiltshire, UK: Crowood Press. ISBN 1-86126-809-2. 
  • Lake, Alan (1999). Flying Units of the RAF. Shrewsbury, Shropshire, UK: Airlife. ISBN 1-84037-086-6. 

External linksEdit

Coordinates: 55°02′15″N 01°41′30″W / 55.0375°N 1.69167°W / 55.0375; -1.69167

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