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. 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, however, 13 Group Communications Flight had been in existence at Woolsington for a month when war was declared. 43 Elementary and Reserve Flying Training School was formed in June 1939 and was disbanded just three months later in September 1939.
The base served at various times as a satellite of both RAF Acklington and RAF Ouston but saw little operational flying. 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.
In 1941, Durham University Air Squadron (DUAS) was formed at Woolsington initially flying Tiger Moth aircraft. 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.
Woolsington's main wartime role was as the base of No. 83 Maintenance Unit which salvaged crashed aircraft over much of the region. After the war civil flying resumed and the airport is now known as Newcastle International Airport.
The following units or squadrons were based at (or used) RAF Woolsington between 1936 and 1946.
- No. 13 Group Communications Flight
- No. 27 Elementary Gliding School
- No. 27 Gliding School
- No. 43 Elementary & Reserve Flying Training School
- No. 55 Operational Training Unit
- No. 62 Operational Training Unit
- No. 72 Squadron
- No. 83 Maintenance Unit
- No. 278 Squadron
- No. 281 Squadron
- Durham University Air Squadron
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Whaley, R; Morrison, J; Heslop, D (2008). "Archaeology of the 20th century defence sites of Tyne and Wear". 27; RAF Woolsington (Newcastle Airport): Newcastle City Council. p. 29. https://www.newcastle.gov.uk/wwwfileroot/legacy/regen/locallist/tyne_and_wear_defence_sites.pdf. Retrieved 3 March 2017.
- ↑ Robson, Ian (21 September 2014). "Newcastle RAF Association service marks the days when Newcastle Airport was home to Spitfires". nechronicle. http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/north-east-news/newcastle-raf-association-service-marks-7807071. Retrieved 3 March 2017.
- ↑ Lake 1999, p. 121.
- ↑ Lake 1999, p. 60.
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 Delve 2006, p. 278.
- ↑ Lake 1999, p. 37.
- ↑ "RAF - NUAS History" (in en). http://www.raf.mod.uk/universityairsquadrons/nuashistroy.cfm. Retrieved 3 March 2017.
- ↑ Delve 2006, p. 277.
- ↑ "Woolsington (Newcastle) - Airfields of Britain Conservation Trust UK" (in en). http://abct.org.uk/airfields/airfield-finder/woolsington-newcastle/. Retrieved 3 March 2017.
- 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.
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