RAF Ashford

Summary

Royal Air Force Ashford or more simply RAF Ashford is a former Royal Air Force Advanced Landing Ground in Kent, England. The landing ground is located approximately 3 miles (4.8 km) west of Ashford just south of the A28 near the junction with Old Surrenden Manor Road; about 50 miles (80 km) southeast of London.

RAF Ashford
USAAF Station AAF-417
Ensign of the Royal Air Force.svg Patch9thusaaf.png Royal Canadian Air Force Ensign (1941-1968).svg
Ashford, Kent in England
Ashford-11may44.jpg
Ashford Airfield, taken on 11 May 1944, during the tenure of the 406th Fighter Group, 3 weeks before D-Day.
RAF Ashford is located in Kent
RAF Ashford
RAF Ashford
Shown within Kent
Coordinates51°07′31″N 000°48′58″E / 51.12528°N 0.81611°E / 51.12528; 0.81611Coordinates: 51°07′31″N 000°48′58″E / 51.12528°N 0.81611°E / 51.12528; 0.81611
TypeAdvanced Landing Ground
CodeZF[1]
Site information
OwnerAir Ministry
OperatorRoyal Canadian Air Force
Royal Air Force
United States Army Air Forces 1944-
Controlled byRAF Second Tactical Air Force
Site history
Built1943 (1943)
Built byRAF Airfield Construction Service
Royal Canadian Engineers
In useMarch 1943 - September 1944 (1944)
Battles/warsEuropean theatre of World War II
Airfield information
Elevation60 metres (197 ft)[2] AMSL
Runways
Direction Length and surface
04/22  Sommerfeld tracking
14/32  Sommerfeld tracking
Republic P-47D-27-RE Thunderbolt Serial 42-6887 of the 512th Fighter Squadron
512th and 514th Fighter Squadron P-47s prepare to take off on runway 15–33. Note aircraft painted in D-Day invasion markings
Republic P-47D-27-RE Thunderbolt Serial 42-26922 of the 512th Fighter Squadron. Note the C-47 in background.

Opened in 1943, Ashford was one of several prototypes for the temporary Advanced Landing Ground airfields built in France after D-Day, required as the Allied forces moved east across France and Germany. It was used by British, Dominion and the United States Army Air Forces. It was closed in September 1944.

Today the airfield is a mixture of agricultural fields with few recognisable remains.

HistoryEdit

Unit Dates Aircraft Variant Notes
No. 65 Squadron RAF October 1943 Supermarine Spitfire IX [3]
No. 122 Squadron RAF October 1943 Supermarine Spitfire IX [4]
No. 414 Squadron RCAF August–October 1943 North American Mustang I Part of the Canadian Reconnaissance Wing
No. 430 Squadron RCAF August–October 1943 North American Mustang I Part of the Canadian Reconnaissance Wing

The following units were also here at some point:[5]

  • No. 129 Airfield (August - October 1943)[6]
  • No. 3205 Servicing Commando
  • No. 3206 Servicing Commando
  • No. 3207 Servicing Commando
  • No. 3209 Servicing Commando

United States Army Air Forces useEdit

Ashford was known as USAAF Station AAF-417 for security reasons by the USAAF during the war, and by which it was referred to instead of location. Its USAAF Station Code was "AF".

406th Fighter GroupEdit

On 5 April the airmen of the 406th Fighter Group arrived, having crossed the Atlantic by troopship. The group arrived from Congaree Army Airfield South Carolina. Operational fighter squadrons and fuselage codes were:

The 406th Fighter Group was part of the 303d Fighter Wing, XIX Tactical Air Command.

The 406th Fighter Group conducted its first operation on 9 May and was chiefly involved in fighter-bomber work. On 18 when the 513th started to use ALG A-13 at Tour-en-Bessin. The last remnants of the 406th departed RAF Ashford on 31 July.

BombingEdit

The airfield was bombed during a night-time raid on 22 May 1944, at 12:35 am. A 1,000-pound (450 kg) high-explosive bomb was dropped in the tented area which accommodated the reserve flight pilots and other staff. These were RAF Volunteer Reservists of 5003 Airfield Construction Squadron, based at RAF Great Chart, some 1.2 km northeast of the airfield. There were 30 casualties, 14 being fatal.[7]

Current useEdit

With the facility released from military control, Ashford was rapidly returned to agricultural use. There is little to indicate that an airfield ever existed at this location.

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website http://www.afhra.af.mil/.

CitationsEdit

  1. ^ Falconer 2012, p. 37.
  2. ^ Falconer 1998, p. 10.
  3. ^ Jefford 1988, p. 45.
  4. ^ Jefford 1988, p. 56.
  5. ^ "Ashford (Great Chart)". Airfields of Britain Conservation Trust. Retrieved 8 April 2022.
  6. ^ Sturtivant, Hamlin & Halley 1997, p. 54.
  7. ^ "SHORT ARTICLES - based on archive information (Turvey Airmen)". mackz.net. Retrieved 9 April 2008.

BibliographyEdit

  • The Military Airfields of Britain, pp 30–31, Ken Delve, 2005, Crowood, ISBN 1-86126-729-0
  • Falconer, J (1998). RAF Fighter Airfields of World War 2. UK: Ian Allen Publishing. ISBN 0-7110-2175-9.
  • Falconer, J (2012). RAF Airfields of World War 2. UK: Ian Allan Publishing. ISBN 978-1-85780-349-5.
  • Freeman, Roger A. (1994) UK Airfields of the Ninth: Then and Now, 1994. After the Battle ISBN 0-900913-80-0
  • Freeman, Roger A. (1996) The Ninth Air Force in Colour: UK and the Continent-World War Two. After the Battle ISBN 1-85409-272-3
  • Jefford, C.G. RAF Squadrons, a Comprehensive Record of the Movement and Equipment of all RAF Squadrons and their Antecedents since 1912. Shrewsbury, Shropshire, UK: Airlife Publishing, 1988. ISBN 1-84037-141-2.
  • Maurer, Maurer (1983). Air Force Combat Units of World War II. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-89201-092-4.
  • Sturtivant, R; Hamlin, J; Halley, J (1997). Royal Air Force flying training and support units. UK: Air-Britain (Historians). ISBN 0-85130-252-1.
  • USAAS-USAAC-USAAF-USAF Aircraft Serial Numbers--1908 to present
  • British Automobile Association (AA), (1978), Complete Atlas of Britain, ISBN 0-86145-005-1