RAF Scorton

Summary

Royal Air Force Scorton or more simply RAF Scorton is a former Royal Air Force satellite station located next to the village of Scorton in North Yorkshire, England. The base was opened in October 1939 as part of 13 Group RAF Fighter Command and a satellite station of RAF Catterick.[2] It was used by the Royal Air Force, the Royal Canadian Air Force, and the United States Army Air Forces Ninth Air Force during the war.

RAF Scorton
Ensign of the Royal Air Force.svgPatch9thusaaf.png
Scorton, North Yorkshire in England
Black and white vertical aerial imagery showing the runways and the River Swale in the bottom left
Aerial photograph of RAF Scorton looking north, 26 June 1941.
RAF Scorton is located in North Yorkshire
RAF Scorton
RAF Scorton
Shown within North Yorkshire
Coordinates54°24′03″N 001°37′30″W / 54.40083°N 1.62500°W / 54.40083; -1.62500Coordinates: 54°24′03″N 001°37′30″W / 54.40083°N 1.62500°W / 54.40083; -1.62500
TypeSatellite Station
CodeSO/425
Site information
OwnerAir Ministry
OperatorRoyal Air Force
Controlled byRAF Fighter Command
RAF Balloon Command
Site history
Built1939 (1939)
In useOctober 1939 - 1945 (1945)
Battles/warsEuropean theatre of World War II
Airfield information
Elevation61 metres (200 ft)[1] AMSL
Runways
Direction Length and surface
258 1,600 yards (1,463 m) Tarmac
220 1,200 yards (1,097 m) Tarmac
351 1,200 yards (1,097 m) Tarmac

The famous No. 56 Squadron RAF flew Supermarine Spitfires from Scorton during the Second World War. Also the USAAF 422d and 425th Night Fighter Squadrons were stationed at Scorton flying the Northrup P-61 "Black Widow" fighter.[3]

After the war, it was kept for a while as a Maintenance Unit base, then disposed of in the 1950s. It is now a site of gravel extraction.

HistoryEdit

The location was chosen for its flat terrain and its situation close to the now disbanded Eryholme-Richmond branch line that had a sub branch line to Catterick Garrison and RAF Catterick.[4] The first unit to use the airfield was a detachment of Bristol Blenheim aircraft from No. 219 Squadron, which had reformed at RAF Catterick in the same month that Scorton had opened.[5][6][7][8]

Although originally designated as a satellite station, in 1941, the site was extended into a 'full' RAF station with 12 hangars and three tarmac runways,[9] with the main east/west runway measuring 4,800 feet (1,500 m) compared to RAF Catterick's runway which was 3,300 feet (1,000 m). This was done because Catterick could not be extended as it was sandwiched between the Great North Road and the River Swale.[10][11] At the same time, the decoy landing site at Birkby (to the east near to Danby Wiske, came under the command of Scorton, having previously been an asset of RAF Catterick.[12]

On its re-opening, the first squadron allocated to Scorton was No. 122, which was equipped with Mark V Spitfires for convoy patrols over the North Sea.[13] No. 122 left for RAF Hornchurch in 1942, with No. 406 Squadron RCAF and No. 219 Squadron later operating from the base. Initially, four aircraft from No. 406 Sqn were detached to Scorton from RAF Drem in February 1942, with the rest of the squadron following in the same year.[14] Both 219 and 406 would later move out again and during 1943, No. 167 Squadron was reformed at Scorton, before moving to RAF Castletown.[15] Between the spring of 1943, and the spring of 1944, Scorton was host to No. 604 Squadron who arrived from RAF Ford in Hampshire and No. 56 Squadron from RAF Martlesham Heath. The squadrons flew Beaufighters and Typhoons respectively.[16]

 
Northrop P-61A-10-NO Black Widow Serial 42-5565 "Double Trouble" of the 422d Night Fighter Squadron.

In May 1944, the USAAF Ninth Air Force transferred two Northrup P-61 Black Widow night interceptor squadrons, No.s 422 and 425, to Scorton from RAF Charmy Down near Bath in Somerset, to train and fly with the RAF night fighter Operational Training Unit assigned there.[3] Initially flying de Havilland Mosquitoes, their first P-61 arrived at Scorton in May 1944 and their first assignment was to chase night-flying V-1 "buzz bombs".[17] Scorton was known as USAAF Station AAF-425 for security reasons by the USAAF during the war, and by which it was referred to instead of location.[18]

The Black Widows would be vectored to intercept approaching V-1s by ground control. Since the V-1 was a little faster than the P-61, the Black Widow had to approach the V-1 from behind and go into a slight dive in order to catch up with it.[19]

The first Black Widow V-1 "kill" took place on 16 July 1944, credited to pilot Herman Ernst and radar operator Edward Kopsel of the 422nd Night Fighter Squadron. One of the greatest dangers involved in killing V-1s was the possibility of getting too close to the flying bomb when one fired at it, running the risk of damage to their own plane if the bomb exploded when hit.

After D-Day, the USAAF Black Widows moved to Advanced Landing Grounds at Maupertus (A-15) (422d NFS) near Cherbourg and Vannes (A-33N) (425th NFS) in Brittany France to intercept German night fighters and bombers attacking Allied positions.[20]

After the two American squadrons vacated the base, it was quiet again for a period before the site was transferred from Fighter Command to Balloon Command who used the site for storage. At the end of the war, the airfield was surplus to requirements, but was used first by No. 221 Maintenance Unit, and then with No. 91 Maintenance Unit, who vacated the site in 1952.[17][21]

UnitsEdit

Postwar useEdit

The Aerodrome closed in 1945 and most of the concreted areas have been extensively quarried away for sand and gravel extraction.[17] Most of what was the airfield is now under a lake or a quarry.[23] There are a few military pre-fab buildings remaining in the area – they were dismantled after the war and moved to local farms to be used as agricultural buildings. The site does still have some remnants from the era, such as accommodation huts and brick-built pillboxes.[4] Some of the newer roads in Scorton have been named after Second World War Aircraft (Beaufighter Close, Typhoon Close and Spitfire Court).[24]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Falconer 1998, p. 78.
  2. ^ Catford, Nick. "Scorton". Disused Stations. Retrieved 1 June 2016.
  3. ^ a b Halpenny 1982, p. 167.
  4. ^ a b Lloyd, Chris (20 June 2020). "The dark concrete chambers of a Second World War bunker on the outskirts of Darlington". infoweb.newsbank.com. Retrieved 1 March 2021.
  5. ^ Halpenny 1982, p. 166.
  6. ^ "Memorial unveiled at Second World War airfield". The Northern Echo. 22 September 2013. Retrieved 1 March 2021.
  7. ^ Lake 1999, p. 242.
  8. ^ Otter 2003, p. 53.
  9. ^ Francis, Paul; Flagg, Richard; Crisp, Graham (2016). "Nine Thousand Miles of Concrete: A Review of Second World War Temporary Airfields in England" (PDF). research.historicengland.org.uk. p. 50. Retrieved 1 March 2021.
  10. ^ Lloyd, Chris (25 August 2010). "Surprise garden find leads to tales of the lives lost in the region's skies". The Northern Echo. Retrieved 1 March 2021.
  11. ^ Halpenny 1982, p. 45.
  12. ^ "Birkby - Airfields of Britain Conservation Trust UK". www.abct.org.uk. Retrieved 1 March 2021.
  13. ^ Otter 2003, p. 56.
  14. ^ Jackson, Robert (1996). "Defence Against the Intruders". In Hunter, A F C (ed.). Defending Northern Skies 1915 - 1995. The Royal Air Force Historical Society. p. 57. ISBN 0951-9824-6X.
  15. ^ Otter 2003, pp. 56–57.
  16. ^ Otter 2003, p. 57.
  17. ^ a b c Delve 2006, p. 229.
  18. ^ Anderson, Barry J (1985). Army Air Forces stations : a guide to the stations where U.S Army Air Forces personnel served in the United Kingdom during World War II. Maxwell Air Force Base Alabama: United States Air Force Historical Research Center. p. 29. OCLC 20337324.
  19. ^ O'Leary 1986, p. 342.
  20. ^ O'Leary 1986, p. 344.
  21. ^ "Scorton - Airfields of Britain Conservation Trust UK". www.abct.org.uk. Retrieved 1 March 2021.
  22. ^ Halpenny 1982, pp. 166–168.
  23. ^ Historic England. "RAF Scorton (1409216)". Research records (formerly PastScape). Retrieved 1 June 2016.
  24. ^ Amos, Mike (15 January 2013). "Old, old story". The Northern Echo. p. 23. ISSN 2043-0442.

BibliographyEdit

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

  • Delve, Ken (2006). Northern England : Co. Durham, Cumbria, Isle of Man, Lancashire, Merseyside, Manchester, Northumberland, Tyne & Wear, Yorkshire. Ramsbury: Crowood. ISBN 1-86126-809-2.
  • Falconer, J (1998). RAF Fighter Airfields of World War 2. UK: Ian Allan Publishing. ISBN 0-7110-2175-9.
  • 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
  • Halpenny, Bruce Barrymore (1982). Action stations 4; Military Airfields of Yorkshire. Cambridge: Stephens. ISBN 0-85059-532-0.
  • Lake, Alan (1999). Flying units of the RAF : the ancestry, formation and disbandment of all flying units from 1912. Shrewsbury: Airlife. ISBN 1-84037-086-6.
  • Maurer, Maurer (1983). Air Force Combat Units Of World War II. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-89201-092-4.
  • O'Leary, Michael (1986). USAAF fighters of World War Two in action. Poole: Blandford Press. ISBN 0713718390.
  • Otter, Patrick (2003). Yorkshire airfields in the Second World War. Newbury: Countryside Books. ISBN 1-85306-542-0.
  • USAAS-USAAC-USAAF-USAF Aircraft Serial Numbers—1908 to present

External linksEdit

  • RAF Scorton on Control Towers