Days Gone By: 100 years ago Martlesham’s air station was created, take a look at its history
- Credit: Archant
Celebrating Martlesham’s aviation history, a century after the air station was created.
It was commissioned in January 1917 when the aerodrome became home of the aircraft testing flight, which had been formed at Upavon, Wiltshire, writes David Kindred.
In March 1924 Martlesham became the Aeroplane and Armament Experimental Station, Both 15 and 22 Squadron were present during the 1920s.
Squadron 64 arrived in the 1930s. During the Second World War Martlesham became a fighter station.
Later it was an American base used by the 8th Army Air Force fighter squadron, used to escort bombers in daylight raids over occupied Europe.
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When the Americans arrived a hard runway was put down for use by P47D Thunderbolts and P51s.
The lighter RAF aircraft had been able to use a grass runway.
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After the war further experiments took place at Martlesham Heath, including blind landings research, which saw a Canberra crash at Crown Point, Martlesham on September 28, 1956.
The Blind Landing Experimental Unit remained at Martlesham Heath until 1957.
The airfield then became home to RAF search and rescue helicopters and for a time to the Battle of Britain Flight’s Spitfires and Hurricanes and a gliding school for the Air Training Corps.
The Air Ministry closed the station April 25, 1963, although private light aircraft used the site until the last flight in 1979.
Martlesham Heath Centenary Weekend is being held this coming weekend, and the event will be celebrating the Martlesham Heath story over the last century.
It will be held on the Main Green in the centre of the village and surrounding areas.
Do you have memories of the early coffee bars or photographs of them to share?
Write to David Kindred, Days Gone By, Ipswich Star/EADT, Portman House, 120 Princes Street, Ipswich, IP1 1RS or e-mail him here.