Raf Chivenor in WW2 - Just for my personal interest

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by al49, Feb 22, 2013.

  1. al49

    al49 Well-Known Member

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    I recently received this soft-cover French magazine

    BA Des Loups sul l'Atlantique.jpg

    that's also mentioned in the "new books" session of this forum.

    On page 25 I found this color profile

    B-17 E.jpg

    that raised some memories of 20+ year ago when, in order to take a party of customer to visit our factory in Barnstaple, North Devon, I organised a charter flight from Malpensa to Chivenor airport.
    I remember that twin props plane approaching from the Taw river estuary to land in a very tiny strip.

    So, just for my personal interest, I would like to know if someone have info and/or pictures of that airport in WW2.
    I presume it was bigger that toady, if B-17 were using it.

    Many thanks in advance.
    Alberto
     
  2. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    RAF Chivenor, was, until recently a fairly large military airfield, home to the TWU, flying Hunters and Hawks, as well as other military types operating from there, including SAR Wessex and Sea King helicopters.
    During WW2, it was a Coastal Command airfield, under 19 Group, and was opened in 1940. A year or two later, to accommodate heavier aircraft, three asphalt-covered concrete runways were laid, the longest being 2,000 yards x 50 yards (this became the main post war runway, extended to around 4,000 yards), with 45 'spectacle' or loop type dispersal points, and a further five 150 feet diameter 'frying pan' dispersal points.
    Staff was a total of 2,678 men of all ranks, and 333 WAAFs.
    By the late 1980s, it was a very large airfield indeed, stuck out on that spit of land to the south of Braunton, where a friend of mine had a restaurant.
    Approaching from the sea, RAF Chivenor would be to your right, across the Taw, and was not normally open to civilian traffic. However, at the time you visited, a far as I remember, there was a small airstrip on the opposite (left) side of the Taw, which would have been under RAF Chivenor Radar and Approach control, and perhaps this is where you landed.
    I'm not totally sure, but I believe Chivenor was closed under the latest Defence cuts, with the TWU either now totally at Brawdy, or centralised at the home of all UK Hawks, at Valley, on Anglesey.
    The RAF now shares its ten aircraft with the three remaining operational airfields, until next month, when funds will not allow flying on any day that has a 'Y' in it's name ......
     
  3. Kryten

    Kryten Member

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    I believe Chivenor is now the home to the Royal Marines?
     
  4. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    Very probably - they were just across the other side of the estuary, so makes sense to utilise a bigger, better base.
    BTW, the B-17s of 59 Sqn were only at Chivenor for around three weeks, whilst transferring to Aldergrove, then Ballykelly, in Northern Ireland.
     
  5. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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    Very cool! I really like this series of Magazines, I have 2 so far.
     
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