RAF Ashford

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RAF Ashford
USAAF Station AAF-417

Ensign of the Royal Air Force.svgPatch9thusaaf.pngRoyal Canadian Air Force Ensign (1941-1968).svg
Ashford-11may44.jpg
Ashford Airfield, taken on 11 May 1944, during the tenure of the 406th Fighter Group, 3 weeks before D-Day.
IATA: noneICAO: none
Summary
Airport type Military
Owner Air Ministry
Operator Royal Canadian Air Force
Royal Air Force
United States Army Air Forces
Location Ashford, Kent, United Kingdom
Built 1944 (1944)
In use 1944-1944 (1944)
Elevation AMSL 125 ft / 38 m
Coordinates 51°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
Map
RAF Ashford is located in Kent
RAF Ashford
RAF Ashford
Location in Kent
Runways
Direction Length Surface
ft m
04/22 0 0 Asphalt
14/32 0 0 Asphalt
RCAF Mustang performing runway testing on Runway 04-22, October 1943
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.

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

Opened in 1943, Ashford was one of several a 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: part of runway 15 - 33 is visible on Google Earth at 51.125594° 0.818962°.

History[edit]

Unit Dates Aircraft Variant Notes
No. 65 Squadron RAF October 1943 Supermarine Spitfire IX [1]
No. 122 Squadron RAF October 1943 Supermarine Spitfire IX [2]
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

United States Army Air Forces use[edit]

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. It's USAAF Station Code was "AF".

406th Fighter Group[edit]

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.

Bombing[edit]

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.[3]

Current use[edit]

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 also[edit]

References[edit]

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Air Force Historical Research Agency.

Citations[edit]

  1. ^ Jefford 1988, p. 45.
  2. ^ Jefford 1988, p. 56.
  3. ^ "SHORT ARTICLES - based on archive information (Turvey Airmen)". www.mackz.net. Retrieved 2008-04-09. 

Bibliography[edit]

External links[edit]