|Royal Air Force Leconfield|
|Leconfield, East Riding of Yorkshire in England|
Sea King HAR3 of No. 202 Squadron (E-Flight) based at RAF Leconfield.
|Type||Royal Air Force flying station|
|Owner||Ministry of Defence|
|Operator||Royal Air Force|
|Fate||Transferred to British Army and became the Army School of Mechanical Transport, subsequently the Defence School of Transport.|
|Identifiers||ICAO: EGXV, WMO: 03382|
|Elevation||7 metres (23 ft) AMSL|
The former RAF Leconfield, or 'Leconfield Camp' was a Royal Air Force station in Leconfield (near Beverley), East Riding of Yorkshire, England. The site is now used by the MoD Defence School of Transport Leconfield (DST Leconfield).
Leconfield opened on 3 December 1936 as part of RAF Bomber Command with Handley Page Heyford bombers from No. 166 Squadron RAF using the airfield from January 1937 until early September 1939.
Second World War
On the night of 3 September 1939, the first night of the war, ten Whitley bombers from Leconfield became the first British aircraft to penetrate German airspace, dropping propaganda leaflets over Germany. In October 1939 it was taken over by RAF Fighter Command and the Mk I Spitfires of 72 squadron arrived from RAF Church Fenton. During the Battle of Britain, the station was a temporary home to many other squadrons of Fighter Command which made short stays here to rest and re-group. During this period there was also a decoy airfield at nearby Routh.
During the war the RAF squadrons based at Leconfield were:
- No. 51 Squadron between 20 April 1945 and 21 August 1945 with the Short Stirling Mk.V before moving to RAF Stradishall.
- No. 166 Squadron between 20 January 1937 and 17 September 1939 using the Handley Page Heyford III before switching to the Armstrong Whitworth Whitley I in June 1939 and moving to RAF Abingdon.
- No. 196 Squadron between 22 December 1942 and 19 July 1943 flying the Vickers Wellington X before moving to RAF Witchford.
- No. 234 Squadron reformed at Leconfield on 30 October 1939 with the Fairey Battle, Bristol Blenheim IF, Gloster Gauntlet II before settling on the Supermarine Spitfire Mk. I. The squadron moved to RAF Church Fenton on 22 May 1940.
- No. 466 Squadron between 22 December 1942 and 3 June 1944 with the Handley Page Halifax II/III before moving to RAF Driffield.
- No. 610 Squadron between 29 August 1941 and 14 January 1942 with the Supermarine Spitfire IIA/VB before moving to RAF Hutton Cranswick.
- No. 640 Squadron formed at the airfield on 7 January 1944 with the Halifax III before switching to the Mk. VI in March 1945 and disbanding on 7 May 1945.
The station was also the place of formation of the Polish No. 302 Squadron "Poznański", and the place of rest of the Polish No. 303 "Kościuszko" Squadron after it had its turn in the defence of London.
In the 1950s Leconfield was a nominated 'dispersal base' for the RAF V bomber force. Also, after being transferred from RAF Catfoss in October 1945, and into the early 1950s, it was home to the Central Gunnery School which, among other functions, trained air gunnery instructors in Wellington bombers and pilot attack instructors in Spitfire and Mosquito aircraft. This School was later transformed into the Fighter Weapons School. The aircraft then flown were mainly single-seat Venoms and Meteors, plus twin-seat Vampire T11, Meteor trainers and Hawker Hunters for trials with ADEN cannons in 1957. Bristol Sycamore HR 14 helicopters of No. 275 Squadron RAF arrived on 9 October 1957 before being re-equipped with the Westland Whirlwind HAR 4 in March 1959 with the HAR 2 version being added in August 1959, however on 1 September 1959 the squadron was disbanded.
On 29 June 1959 19 Squadron joined with their Hawker Hunter F.6's before being re-equipped with the English Electric Lightning F.2 in December 1962 and moving to RAF Gütersloh on 23 September 1965, being joined at RAF Gütersloh by No. 92 Squadron on 24 January 1968 which had also been stationed at Leconfield with their Hunter F.6's also later FGA9's (The Blue Diamonds). It then became home to No. 60 Maintenance Unit RAF (MU) and also 202 'D' Flight with Westland Whirlwind helicopters. 60MU was responsible for the major servicing of the EE/BAC Lightnings, plus several other tasks. No. 202 Squadron became the first SAR unit to rescue people off of Britain's first offshore oil rig, the Sea Gem. The rig had capsized on the 27 December 1965 and the crew of a Whirlwind rescued three men from the freezing water in a horrendous snowstorm. The crew were later awarded medals and commendations for their actions.
In the 1970s the control tower at Leconfield developed a reputation for being haunted by a Flight Lieutenant who had been killed on the station. As the only one of its type, the cinema on the camp became a listed building. RAF Leconfield closed on 1 January 1977.
The following units were here at some point:
- No. 1 AACU ‘G’ Flight RAF
- No. 1 Fighter Command Modification Centre RAF
- No. 11 (Fighter) Group RAF
- No. 11 Group Communications Flight RAF
- No. 11 Group Modification Centre RAF
- No. 11 (Northern) Sector RAF
- No. 15 (Pilots) Advanced Flying Unit RAF
- No. 15 Service Flying Training School RAF
- No. 25 Gliding School RAF
- No. 28 Conversion Flight RAF
- No. 60 Maintenance Unit RAF
- No. 60 Operational Training Unit RAF
- No. 107 Conversion Flight RAF
- No. 151 (Fighter) Wing RAF
- No. 1484 (Bombing) Gunnery Flight RAF
- No. 1502 (Beam Approach Training) Flight RAF
- No. 1520 (Beam Approach Training) Flight RAF
- Central Gunnery School RAF
- Coastal Command Gunnery School RAF
- Fighter Weapons School RAF
- Home Command Major Servicing Unit RAF
- Special Installation Squadron RAF
- Yorkshire Universities Air Squadron RAF
Leconfield is now home to the Defence School of Transport (DST Leconfield) and is one of the Schools that make up the Defence College of Logistics Policing and Administration (DCLPA) it is a Tri-Service establishment. DST Leconfield is Europe's largest driver training establishment, the accommodation is designated as Normandy Barracks.
Although flying operations were not the main role of Leconfield, two Sea King helicopters of 'E' Flight, 202 Sqn were based here in the Search and Rescue role however this changed as a private company took over the services and the aircraft were retired. Flying operations ceased on 1 April 2015 with the departure of the 2 Sea King helicopters. The Search and rescue function has been assumed by the Maritime and Coastguard agency based at Humberside Airport.
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