Army Aviation Centre (AAC) Middle Wallop is a British Army airfield located near the Hampshire village of Middle Wallop, used for Army Air Corps training. The base hosts 2 (Training) Regiment AAC and 7 (Training) Regiment AAC under the umbrella of the Army Aviation Centre. 2 (Training) Regiment performs ground training; 7 (Training) Regiment trains aircrew on AAC aircraft after they complete basic training at RAF Shawbury.
|AAC Middle Wallop|
|Middle Wallop, Stockbridge, Hampshire|
AAC Middle Wallop
Location within Hampshire
|Type||Army Air Corps airfield|
|Owner||Ministry of Defence|
|Controlled by||Army Air Corps|
|In use||Royal Air Force (April 1940–1945 and 1946–1957)|
Fleet Air Arm (1945–1946)
Army Air Corps (1957 – present)
|Battles/wars||European theatre of World War II|
|Elevation||90.5 metres (297 ft) AMSL|
|Source: Middle Wallop Defence Aerodrome Manual|
The base was opened as RAF Middle Wallop, a training school for new pilots in 1940. It was originally intended for bomber use; however, with the Battle of Britain being fought, No. 609 Squadron RAF, flying the Supermarine Spitfire Ia, and No. 238 Squadron RAF flying the Hawker Hurricane I were moved to Middle Wallop.
In September 1940 604 Squadron RAF a specialist night fighter unit received the Bristol Beaufighter, equipped with four 20-mm cannon under the nose and improved Mark IV AI radio-location equipment. As one of the few Squadrons thus equipped, 604 squadron helped provide night time defence over the UK during the Blitz from late 1940 until mid-May 1941. In this time 50 air victories had been claimed by No. 604 Squadron, 14 by F/L John Cunningham.
Middle Wallop was also used by the United States Army Air Forces Ninth Air Force to house Headquarters IX Fighter Command, beginning in November 1943. A month after the headquarters arrived, the 67th Reconnaissance Group was moved from RAF Membury. The move of the 67th Group was made in December 1943 so it would be in close proximity to IX FC Headquarters. The 67th Group flew the photographic versions of the Lockheed P-38 Lightning (F-5) and North American P-51 Mustang (F-6) to fly artillery-adjustment, weather-reconnaissance, bomb-damage assessment, photographic-reconnaissance, and visual-reconnaissance missions to obtain photographs that aided the invasion of the Continent.
After D-Day, both the 67th RG moved to its Advanced Landing Ground at Le Molay-Littry (ALG A-9) and IX FC Headquarters moved to Les Obeaux, France in late June 1944 ending the USAAF presence at Middle Wallop. During the American use, the airfield was designated as USAAF Station 449, ID Code: MW.
In January 1945, in an exchange with the Royal Air Force, Middle Wallop was transferred to Royal Navy use, and became 'RNAS Middle Wallop'. HMS Flycatcher, the headquarters for the Mobile Naval Air Base organisation then moved in from RNAS Ludham, Norfolk, which reverted to RAF use.
In 1946, the Royal Air Force occupied Middle Wallop again. No. 164 Squadron RAF with its Spitfires came and were renumbered to No. 63 Squadron RAF. The following year, No. 227 OCU, an Army Air Observation Post training unit, was moved to the airfield. This was renamed as the Air Observation Post School in 1950, and the Light Aircraft School in 1952.
In 1954 a Development Flight (CFS) with helicopters was formed there, this led to the Joint Experimental Helicopter Unit in 1955. On 1 September 1957, when British Army aviation became independent of the RAF, Middle Wallop was transferred to the new Army Air Corps with the former Light Aircraft School RAF becoming the Army Air Corps Centre. The centre was made up of the:
The Army Air Corps Centre was previously the Light Aircraft School RAF (1953–57), Air Observation Post School RAF (1950–53), No. 227 (Air Observation Post) Conversion Unit (1947–50), No. 227 Operational Conversion Unit RAF (1947), No. 43 Operational Training Unit (1942–47), No. 1424 (Air Observation Post) Flight RAF (1941–42) and D Flight RAF within the No. 1 School of Army Co-operation RAF (1940–41).
The School of Army Aviation was established in 1965 by renaming and separating the Training Cell which included the ground instructional part of the Tactics Wing, Aircraft Engineering Training Wing and the Flying Wing. It changed its name to the Army Aviation Centre on 1 August 2009.
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