4 min read

Here’s a list of historic First & Second World War airfields in the UK 33

Creative Commons Licence [Some Rights Reserved] © Copyright Des Blenkinsopp and licensed for reuse under a Creative Commons Licence.

Bicester Airfield. Creative Commons Licence [Some Rights Reserved] © Copyright Des Blenkinsopp

A full list of airfields from the First and Second World War granted listed status by the government in 2005

Bicester, Oxfordshire, built as a bomber station from 1924 and retains grass airfield, airfield defences, bomb stores, perimeter track and hardstandings added during the Second World War.

Biggin Hill, London Borough of Bromley, Britain’s most celebrated fighter station retains officers’ mess (1934) and group of technical and domestic buildings (mostly 1930-34), including the best-preserved married quarters associated with a nationally important site.

Calshot, Hampshire, opened in 1913, best-preserved of chain of contemporary seaplane bases.

Catterick, North Yorkshire, originally a Home Defence Station in 1914, is the best preserved fighter sector station in the north of England, retaining group of First World War hangars.

Cosford, Shropshire, opened in 1938 as No.2 School of Technical Training and during Second World War over 70,000 engine and airframe mechanics and armourers attended courses there.

Cranwell, Lincolnshire, Cadet College begun in 1929, a cornerstone of Britain’s independent air force.

Debden, Essex, opened as a fighter station in 1937 and noted for the largely intact preservation of its flying field and defensive perimeter.

Duxford, Cambridgeshire, famous Battle of Britain fighter station, later used as USAAF fighter station, also retains best-preserved technical fabric remaining from a site up to November 1918.

An aerial view of field and airfield

Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre and former R.A.F. East Kirkby. Copyright Chris and licensed for reuse under a Creative Commons Licence.

East Kirby, Lincolnshire, opened in 1943 in support of Bomber Command’s offensive, with airmen from nearly 200 Commonwealth countries operating from it with 57 and 630 squadrons.

Elvington, Yorkshire, opened October 1942. Halifax Bombers based at Elvington were heavily engaged in the Battle of the Ruhr in early 1943 and in May and June 1944, two heavy bomber squadrons of the Free French Air Force formed there.

Filton, Gloucestershire, former Aircraft Acceptance Park for the reception and final assembly of aircraft and their flight testing, storage and distribution to squadrons to the north of Sir George White’s aircraft factory of 1910.

Halton, Buckinghamshire, established as the centre for technical training for the Royal Flying Corps in 1917.

A photo mof a overgrown pillbox next to a field

An overgrown pillbox near Henlow Airfield. Copyright Philip Jeffrey and licensed for reuse under a Creative Commons Licence

Henlow, Bedfordshire, five General Service Sheds comprise the most complete ensemble of hangar buildings on any British site for the period up to 1923.

Hullavington, Wiltshire, opened 1937 as a Flying Training Station and embodies to a unique degree the improved architectural quality associated with the post-1934 Expansion Period of the RAF.

Kemble, Gloucestershire/Wiltshire, the most strongly representative – by virtue of its range of hangar types – of 24 Aircraft Storage Unit sites planned and built by the Air Ministry between 1936 and 1940.

Larkhill, Wiltshire, one of the two sites in Britain where aircraft sheds built in association with the early pioneers of powered flight have survived. As historically significant as the remains of the Wright Brothers workshops and the resited 1910 Boeing workshop at Seattle. Britain’s first military airfield.

Little Staughton, Cambridgeshire, Pathfinder Mosquitoes from 109 Squadron and Lancasters of 583 Squadron active from April 1944.

Little Walden, Essex, used by the USAAF from April 1944 and has exceptionally complete example of common type control tower used during the Second World War.

Ludham, Norfolk, opened in 1941 as a forward operating base for Fighter Command.

Manby, Lincolnshire, after Hullavington the most complete and architecturally unified of the post-1934 Expansion Period stations in Britain.

Netheravon, Wiltshire, begun in 1912, the most complete of the sites relating to formative phase in the development of military aviation in Europe, prior to the First World War.

a phot of an airfield with barbed wire and piquets in the foreground

Barbed wire at the edge of Northolt Airfield. Copyright Des Blenkinsopp and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Northolt, London Borough of Hillingdon, one of the 11 Group sector stations which played a significant operational role in the Battle of Britain. Memorial commemorates the contribution of Polish airmen to the Allied war effort.

North Weald, Essex, fighter sector station with Battle of Britain associations, and after Kenley and Debden retains the best-preserved of the landscapes put in place by Fighter Command at the beginning of the Second World War.

Old Sarum, Wiltshire, best-preserved flying field of the First World War period.

Scampton, Lincolnshire, opened in 1936 as a bomber station, its association with the Dambuster Raids make it Bomber Command’s most famous base of the Second World War and it continued to evolve as a landscape for the projection of deterrent power against the Soviet Union in the Cold War period.

Spitalgate, Lincolnshire, opened as a training station in 1917, one of few retained for use by the RAF after 1919.

Swanton Morley, Norfolk, along with West Malling has the best-preserved example of Art Deco styling of the Air Ministry’s control tower designs. The first combined bombing raid with British and American personnel was launched from Swanton Morley on June 29 1942, with both Churchill and Eisenhower present.

Upavon, Wiltshire, founded in 1912 as the Royal Flying Corp’s Central Flying School.

Uxbridge, London Borough of Hillingdon, developed as a major armaments training school at the end of the First World War and then as a recruit-training centre for the RAF in the 1920s. Underground bunker of 1938 contains the Group Operations Room from where the vital 11 Fighter Group was commanded during the Battle of Britain.








33 comments on “Here’s a list of historic First & Second World War airfields in the UK

  1. dee hewings on

    Hi, A very interesting article but was saddened to see that Lissett, home of Friday 13th Halifax heavy bomber of 158 Squadron of Group 4 Bomber Command has not been included. Each year 158 Squadron have a memorial service at Lissett that is fairly well attended, and the Association has many tales to tell. Is it possible for Lissett to be included in this list?

    • Richard Moss on

      Thanks Dee, thanks for the tip. We’ll update the list and take a closer look at Lissett. Do you have a contact for someone there we could talk to about a feature?

  2. Paul Alfred Doyle on

    Your listing does not include RFC Stow Maries, Essex, a grass aerodrome still extant with most of the WW1 structures intact, and being restored to 1918 period. I have written much about this Home Defence Flight Station and am disappointed it is not included, but can forward a copy of one such magazine article if required.

  3. Harry C Day on

    Two Scottish airfields not mentioned Both were involved in the first air raid on the U.K . In October 1939. Turnhouse Edinburgh
    home of The city of Edinburgh 603 squadron and Drem East Lothian where the City if Glasgow 602 squadron spitfires attacked the Lufwaffe bombers on their attack on the river Forth.
    Two were brought down one in the River Forth near Cockenzie and the other on land in East Lothian , a third crashed in Holland. As a 12 year old sat fishing at Granton Harbour Edinburgh I had a ringside seat.

  4. yarrow on

    You do not appear to have listed Fiskerton, Lincolnshire or Syerston, Nottinghamshire. Both were used by Squadron #49 between 1943 and the end of the war.

  5. John Steele on

    Interesting article especially as having flown gliders at Upavon , Netheravon and Bicester. Intrigued as to the status of Cardington with its listed airship hangars as I flew there in an Anson in the late fifties.

  6. Paul Johnson on

    Skipton Upon Swale is also missing from the list. It is privately owned by some farmers the nissan huts runways and taxiways still exist and every year there is a 6 group memorial service on site to commemorate the sacrifices made by the crews . I thin kthe tower is s till there too allbeit derelict.

  7. Kevin Frost on

    Hi. Interesting article but I’m pretty sure RAF Uxbridge never had a runway so can’t strictly be classed as one of the airfields of WWI/II, although you are right that it was a major command centre.

  8. Margaret Devitt on

    The comments are as if not more interesting than the article with all its omissions. A consummate example of ‘check your facts’. Whilst I understand the omission of Tangmere as no longer having its runways, now farmland, it is an extremely active WWI & WWII aviation museum & memorial to those like my father who served there.

  9. Michael Wright on

    Disappointed that there is no mention of RAF Hendon, which was a fighter base during WW2. Now, of course is the RAF museum. I lived in Watford Way which gave a good view of spitfires landing after the war, and don’t remember the movements during the war !

  10. Michael Burton on

    This is a very good article. Richard Moss quite clearly states what his parameters are at the beginning,. Those airfields granted listed status by 2005. I suspect that most of the people nominating their favourite airbases didn’t read this properly.

  11. Duncan Simpson on

    The historical sites of RAF Bomber Command and Fighter Command are under constant attack from defence cuts and the demands of developers looking to build more houses. There must surely be an argument to retain the ones not yet turned over to Chicken huts and industrial units ? Let’s keep the RAF history alive and see civilian aircraft using these bases to maintain the original and intended use.

  12. NEIL CONNOR on

    RAF Ramsbury is also missing from the list. Built in 1941, in use from 1942-45, decommissioned in 1946. My late father served there from 44-45 as an RAF telephonist, but the USAAF also had a massive presence there prior to D Day. On the 9th of this month two plaques are being dedicated on the airfield to commemorate those who served at RAF Ramsbury, and, those who didn’t return.

  13. Jeff Clark on

    Spiral gate in Grantham has just had Council consent to build 500 houses on the airfield. It would seem that the only building they are bothered with is the Grade II listed Officers Mess.

  14. jo denham on

    One email I look forward to receiving. This is an interesting article but can I ask whether there’s a reason Stapleford Aerodrome in Epping, Essex, aka RAF Stapleford Tawney in Second World War is missing from the list?

  15. david sankey on

    It would be good to update and reissue this list. To which, I would add RAF Kenley. It claims to be the “most intact” Battle of Britain WW2 fighter airfield (near London anyway), having been preserved in aspic as a glider-training station, as the runways were too short for modern aircraft. It’s fighter rearming/refueling pens are preserved as a Scheduled Ancient Monument, and it is being spruced up as part of the HLF-funded Kenley Revival Project https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1021243 https://www.kenleyrevival.org/

  16. Sean Morley on

    Very interesting sad to see there are no pictures of Kenley aerodrome on here i took many a visit up here as i only lived a few miles away from it

  17. Ian Jones on

    Sorry to say your list comes up short of world war airfields to name but a few used in the 1000 bomber raids are
    Croft (used by americans) Goose pool (now Teesside AirportHome of the Canadians)Thornaby on Tees (Bombers, ASRescue, D Day Glider Landing from here with Albermarles and many other Operations not listed ) Leeming still in Ops due to get frontline Sqds Topcliffe still Ops ,
    Dalton on Tees , Tholthorpe , Linton on Ouse closed to Ops 2019, Church Fenton Private field, Aln Airfield, East Moor Cliffton, Driffield Full Sutton,Pocklington Lisset,Holme-upon-Splading Moor, Melborune. There are still many more that took part in raids over Europe that are not listed.

  18. Karen Knight on

    Thorpe Abbots Airfield near Diss in Norfolk houses the 100th Bomb Group Museum within the original control tower. I knew it many years agoas an “Area Museums Service Adviser’ when it first opened but a wonderful goup of knowledgeable volunteers have maintained and loved it ever since. Might that be added to the list?

  19. Clive Dalzell on

    This is a very good article. Just to add re Bicester. As well as everything already mentioned there are also original hangars, control tower, air raid shelters and many other airfield buildings still there. It is the oldest continuously used grass airfield in Europe.

    Very sadly, it is being closed in June 2020 and it’s future is as yet undecided despite its protected status.

  20. Guy McNair-Wilson on

    East Boldre Airfield in the New Forest is an old WW1 airbase. Before that it was one of the very first flying schools in the world. The old Officers Mess building still remains as the East Boldre Village Hall.

  21. C Armstrong on

    There needs to be an URGENT look at Tain and Fearn Airfields IN ross-shire Scotland. There’s a threat (NOW July 2020) that they will ALL be demolished including the little jail and all the buildings – just fr some modern ‘development’! A disgrace.
    Please help to save it!

    • Martin Briscoe on

      I was sent a couple of pictures of Tain by a friend up there, now just piles of rubble. I don’t think any significant buildings survive though the WT site down the road is probably still there.

      I put the pictures on ARG.

  22. Arthur Oakes on

    Hello. I hope that maybe you can help me? I am trying to find information about the grass airstrip developed in 1916 as one of the Home Defence Squadrons developed as counter measures against Zeppelins. The Stafford airstrip was suitable for Tiger Moths and Magisters and was used for transportation and communication purposes. The airstrip is very close to 16 MU Stafford which was built from 1939.


Add your comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *