|Near Cosford, Shropshire in England|
Shown within Shropshire
|Type||Royal Air Force station|
|Owner||Ministry of Defence|
|Operator||Royal Air Force|
|Access to RAF Museum only|
RAF Museum – Cosford
|Elevation||83 metres (272 ft) AMSL|
Use of the station
RAF Cosford opened in 1938 as a joint aircraft maintenance, storage and technical training unit. It was originally intended to be opened as RAF Donington (the parish in which it is located) but to avoid confusion with the nearby army camp at Donnington it was named after Cosford Grange House which was located at the south western edge of the airfield. It has remained mainly a training unit to this day. The Fulton Mess barrack block was constructed just before the Second World War as the largest single building barrack block in the UK. It is now used for technical training.
No 2 School of Technical Training was formed in 1938 and during the Second World War it trained 70,000 airmen in engine, airframe and armament trades. No 2 School of Technical Training was subsumed into the No 1 School of Technical Training when it moved to Cosford from RAF Halton in Buckinghamshire.
During the Second World War, No 12 Ferry Pool of the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA) was formed at Cosford, which involved delivering Spitfires from the base and returning with bombers or fighters for No 9 Maintenance Unit. These ferrying flights were often crewed by women pilots and Amy Johnson came to Cosford on more than one occasion.
The airfield was originally a grassed strip. After a particularly bad winter in 1940/1941 when the effect of landing heavy aircraft such as Wellingtons and Ansons turned the strip into a mudbath, a paved runway was constructed that was 1,146 yards (1,048 m) long and 46 yards (42 m) wide.
A substantial Princess Mary's Royal Air Force Nursing Service hospital was established at RAF Cosford, the most westerly such RAF hospital in the UK. Constructed of wooden spurred hutting the hospital was the main centre for repatriated Prisoners of War with over 13,000 processed by 1948. Many of those from the Far East had to remain for long term treatment. The hospital was also open to the general public as well as servicemen and women, but it was closed on 31 December 1977 and demolished in 1980. For the three summers between 1978 and 1980 the empty hospital formed the venue for annual training camps for the Royal Observer Corps, with wards and theatres converted into barrack accommodation and training rooms.
The extensive sports facilities at Cosford, located around a banked indoor running track, became well known nationally through televised annual indoor championships that featured top athletes from all over the world.
Schools currently stationed there include: No. 1 School of Technical Training, No. 1 Radio School RAF, the Defence School of Photography and the RAF School of Physical Training. Flying units include the University of Birmingham Air Squadron, No 8 Air Experience Flight and No 633 Volunteer Gliding Squadron. The Wales and West regional headquarters and West Mercian Wing headquarters of the Air Training Corps are situated there, along with No 2497 (Cosford) Squadron of the ATC.
Cosford became part of the Defence College of Aeronautical Engineering (DCAE), which was formed on 1 April 2004. Other units located at Cosford include elements of the Defence College of Communications and Information Systems (DCCIS), the Defence School of Photography (DSOP) and the RAF School of Physical Training.
The Defence College at RAF Cosford came under the Defence Technical Training Change Programme (DCTTP) and as such, with effect from 1 October 2012, was renamed the Defence School of Aeronautical Engineering (DSAE).
- Defence College of Aeronautical Engineering Cosford
- HQ DCAE
- Aerosystems Training Wing
- Military Training Wing
- Lodger Units
- RAF Museum Cosford.
- No 1 Radio School (Part of the Defence College of Communication and Information Systems (DCCIS).
- Defence School of Photography (Part of the Joint Intelligence Training Group (JITG))
- RAF School of Physical Training.
- No 605 County of Warwick Squadron
- University of Birmingham Air Squadron
- No 8 Air Experience Flight (Operating the Grob 115 Tutor)
- HQ Wales and Western Region Air Training Corps.
- Headquarters West Mercia West Wing Air Training Corps.
- No 633 Volunteer Gliding Squadron (Operating the Grob 109B Vigilant T.Mk.1 motor-glider)
- 2497 Squadron (Air Training Corps)
- Wrekin Gliding Club
- Royal Air Force Cosford Flying Club
- Band of the Royal Corps of Signals
There is also the Aerospace Museum at the site, which is a branch of the Royal Air Force Museum. Amongst the large collection of military aircraft is a unique collection of research and development aircraft, including one of two existing examples of the TSR2, a multi-role combat aircraft, controversially scrapped by the Wilson Government and still a point of discussion within the RAF. There are also collections of missiles and airliners.
The Cold War Exhibition opened on 7 February 2007 by former prime minister Baroness Thatcher and HRH Princess Anne. Exhibits include the only collection of three V bombers (Valiant, Victor and Vulcan) in the same place in the world.
Following the UK Government's 2001 Defence Training Review (DTR), the Ministry of Defence proposed handing over armed forces skills training to a private sector bidder for a 25-year term, and it was announced on 17 January 2007 that the Metrix consortium had been awarded Preferred Bidder status for Package 1 of this programme. As a consequence, it was anticipated that all technical training would move from Cosford to Metrix's main campus to be built on the RAF St Athan site over a 5-year period from 2008. This in turn was deferred with no anticipated move from Cosford to St Athan for DCAE and No1 RS staff and trainees before 2014–15 at the earliest. For those other training schools, headquarters and units at present at Cosford, decisions were yet to be made about their future location.
On 31 January 2008, the Government announced that when 1 Signal Brigade and 102 Logistics Brigade withdraw from Germany they will move to Cosford. It was also noted that Metrix proposed to establish a Learning Centre and Design facility at the Cosford site.
In December 2012 the Government announced training facilities from RAF Cosford would be moved by end of 2015 to the site of the former RAF Station at Lyneham as part of the projected tri-service Defence College of Technical Training, in common with Army and Royal Navy training facilities that would also be consolidated on the site. However, on 15 September 2015, the Defence Secretary, Michael Fallon announced in Parliament by written statement that the Lyneham site would only be used by the army and that Cosford would not be closed and remain as a separate RAF training establishment which would be given extra work, with a fourth training school (No 4 School of Technical Training) moving to Cosford from MoD St Athan in south Wales. The announcement was described in local media as "a Government U-turn".
In popular culture
RAF Cosford was the location for James May's Toy Stories, where the BBC's Top Gear presenter constructed a 1:1 scale Supermarine Spitfire in the style of an Airfix kit with the help of students from the Thomas Telford school and Air Cadets from the ATC.
RAF Cosford Air Show
|Cosford Air Show|
The Red Arrows performing at the 2013 Air Show
|Date(s)||Second Sunday in June|
|Venue||RAF Cosford Airfield site|
|Sponsor||Royal Air Force|
The Cosford Air Show is the only Royal Air Force air show that is officially supported by the Royal Air Force in Britain after the closure of RAF Leuchars and the runway resurfacing at RAF Waddington[note 1] meant the air shows at those respective bases were stopped. The event is held on the airfield of RAF Cosford and regularly hosts flying and static displays which attract more than 50,000 people and is generally held on the second Sunday in June of each year.
An air show at Cosford was first proposed in 1978 and continues to the present day. The event was cancelled in 2003 due to an inability to secure enough serving military aircraft. The war in Iraq had meant that most aircraft were deployed operationally and the RAF couldn't commit to the air show. The runway at Cosford is only 1,200 yards (1,100 m) in length so most flying displays will either arrive on the day or stay overnight at RAF Shawbury which has a 300 yd (270 m) longer airfield.
The air show varies from year to year, but mostly consists of flying and static displays, fun fair rides, concession stands, food outlets, trade stands and also serves to raise money for charity whilst also being seen by the Royal Air Force as a recruitment event as part of its wider public engagement role. Recent years have seen the promotion of STEM events with guests such as Carol Vorderman highlighting the STEM approach. All profits raised at the event go to supporting officially recognized charities by the air show committee with the event in 2016 raising £115,000 for RAF charities.
In 2013, Prince Harry, as part of No. 662 Squadron of the Army Air Corps, took part in the Apache helicopter demonstration at the air show.
Because of the restricted access by vehicle, all roads into the Cosford site become one-way with traffic flow inwards on the morning of the event and outwards on the afternoon and evening of the event. Sometimes the M54 suffers tailbacks and queuing and the slip and access roads have to be closed due to the site reaching its 18,000 vehicle parking limit. The local train operator, Arriva Trains Wales, have a deal whereby a combined rail and air show ticket offers a discount and allows users direct access on foot to the air show event. Cosford station is adjacent to the main crash gate access point onto the eastern edge of the airfield.
The following are the Station Commanders for RAF Cosford, DCAE and DSAE Cosford.
|July 1938||Group Captain W J Guilfoyle||August 1978||Group Captain D G Campbell|
|November 1939||Group Captain W Budgen||October 1980||Group Captain W F Mullen|
|November 1940||Group Captain J McCrae||October 1982||Group Captain T J Morgan|
|February 1942||Group Captain W D Clappen||September 1984||Group Captain M W Windle|
|February 1943||Air Commodore C E H Allen||September 1986||Group Captain R M Best|
|September 1946||Air Commodore P S Blockley||October 1988||Group Captain M Van Der Veen|
|June 1948||Air Commodore R J Rodwell||October 1990||Group Captain M G Yeates|
|January 1952||Air Commodore W L Freebody||November 1992||Group Captain M J Gilding|
|October 1953||Air Commodore R J Pilgrim-Morris||April 1995||Group Captain S B Schofield|
|April 1956||Air Commodore J R Mutch||February 1997||Group Captain A J Smith|
|May 1956||Air Commodore R Harston||September 1998||Group Captain D N Williams|
|March 1959||Group Captain A W Haswell||July 2000||Group Captain A J Burrell|
|November 1961||Group Captain L H Moulton||July 2002||Group Captain A J Young|
|May 1963||Group Captain C S Thomas||April 2004||Air Commodore S R Sims|
|November 1965||Group Captain H Durkin||October 2006||Air Commodore N W Gammon|
|July 1967||Group Captain H A J Mills||March 2009||Air Commodore C H Green|
|April 1970||Group Captain W M Smedley||May 2011||Group Captain J B Johnston|
|August 1972||Group Captain C L Parkinson||April 2013||Group Captain A M Sansom|
|January 1975||Group Captain A Thirkettle||July 2015||Group Captain M Hunt|
|August 1976||Group Captain R L Smith|
The Cosford Badge is adorned with an oak tree and the motto on the crest is Seul Le Premier Pas Coute, which translates as Only the Beginning is Difficult. The oak tree is symbolic of the nearby oak at Boscobel which King Charles II took refuge in after the Battle of Worcester. The idea of this association is that of being from little acorns, great oak trees grow (from trainees the airmen of the future grow). This badge was also shared with the No. 2 School of Technical Training until 1986, when the School adopted a new badge with the iron bridge of Ironbridge on it and the motto of Scientia Pons Perpetuus Est which translates as Knowledge is a Lasting Bridge.
Accidents and incidents
On 4 March 2000, Julian Paszki of Wrekin Gliding Club was killed when his Ex-RAF Chipmunk aircraft crashed. The aircraft was seen to veer left and dive into the ground despite being only 30 feet (9.1 m) in the air at the time. Mr Paszki was pulled alive from the wreckage but died at Selly Oak Hospital later that same day.
RAF Cosford's airfield site is home to one of the Midlands Air Ambulance helicopters. The first aircraft arrived on site in October 1991 with two other platforms based elsewhere in the region. Cosford remains the operations hub for the service.
- The airshow at Waddington was cancelled and has been reborn at RAF Scampton; however, the Air Force Board only support the Cosford Air Show directly within the RAF.
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