RAF Long Kesh
|Owner||Ministry of Defence|
|Operator||Royal Air Force|
|Elevation AMSL||115 ft / 35 m|
In 1940-1941, during World War 2, RAF Long Kesh was a primary attack target in "Operation Green", a planned second front to accompany "Operation Sea Lion" for the conquest of the British Isles by Nazi Germany. RAF Long Kesh was to be attacked and wrecked by German airborne forces, whilst Aldergrove, Nutts Corner and Langford Lodge were to be captured.
Hangars were constructed at the airfield by the Ministry of Aircraft Production for the use of Short Brothers to assemble the Short Stirling bomber. Some Stirlings were also built at the site, before their assembly line moved to RAF Maghaberry, the aircraft production facilities at RAF Long Kesh then concentrated on aircraft wing manufacturing. One of the RAF Long Kesh hangars was later used by Miles Aircraft for final assembly and test flying work of the Miles Messenger, which was made at its factory in a linen mill at Banbridge. The hangars are now the home of the Ulster Aviation Society and their collection of military, civil and general aviation aircraft.
Long Kesh Detention Centre
From August 1971, during The Troubles, the then disused airfield and facilities of RAF Long Kesh became the Long Kesh Detention Centre, where Irish paramilitary suspects were detained by the British Government without trial during the Operation Demetrius phase of Operation Banner. From 1976 the makeshift structures housing the detainees were replaced by newly constructed "H-Blocks", and the facility was re-designated HM Prison Maze.
Operational units and aircraft
- No. 74 Squadron RAF(1942) - Supermarine Spitfire I.
- No. 88 Squadron RAF Detachment (1941-1942) - Douglas Boston III.
- No. 226 Squadron RAF Detachment (1941) - Bristol Blenheim IV.
- No. 231 Squadron RAF (1941-1942) - Curtiss Tomahawk I & IIB.
- No. 290 Squadron RAF (1943-1944) - Miles Martinet.
- No. 422 Squadron RCAF (1942) - Consolidated Catalina IB.