RAF Harrowbeer

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RAF Harrowbeer
Air Force Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg
Yelverton, Devon in England
Royal Air Force Fighter Command, 1939-1945. CH9017.jpg
Aircraft and personnel required for a WWII Air/Sea rescue operation
RAF Harrowbeer is located in Devon
RAF Harrowbeer
RAF Harrowbeer
Shown within Devon
Coordinates50°29′27″N 004°05′36″W / 50.49083°N 4.09333°W / 50.49083; -4.09333Coordinates: 50°29′27″N 004°05′36″W / 50.49083°N 4.09333°W / 50.49083; -4.09333
TypeRoyal Air Force station
Site information
OwnerAir Ministry
OperatorRoyal Air Force
Controlled byRAF Fighter Command
1941-44 & 1945-50
Site history
Built1941 (1941)
In useAugust 1941 - 1950 (1950)
Battles/warsEuropean theatre of World War II
Airfield information
Elevation198 metres (650 ft)[1] AMSL
Direction Length and surface
05/23 834 metres (2,736 ft) Asphalt
11/29 1,171 metres (3,842 ft) Asphalt
17/35 1,020 metres (3,346 ft) Asphalt

Royal Air Force Harrowbeer or more simply RAF Harrowbeer is a former Royal Air Force station situated next to Yelverton in the parish of Buckland Monachorum, Devon, England


RAF Harrowbeer was located approximately 9 miles (14 km) NNE of the city of Plymouth and approximately 6 miles (9.7 km) south of Tavistock, and also sits within the boundary of Dartmoor National Park. Roborough Rock is a tor-like igneous rock outcrop immediately south-west of the airfield (officially called 'Udal Tor') on Roborough Down, next to the border with the A386.[2] This location created problems for the airfield during the Second World War, mainly due to bad weather. The Rock seems to have had little impact on the use of the Airfield, the only thing that was done by the RAF was the placing of a warning light on the top. There seems to be no truth in the widely-held belief that the RAF attempted to blow it up.[2]

Although sited near the village of Yelverton, it was called 'Harrowbeer' in order to distinguish it from the similar-sounding RNAS Yeovilton which had recently changed its name from HMS Heron when the Airfield opened on 15 August 1941. The airfield was under the control of No. 10 Group RAF and was never assigned a station badge.

The former Ravenscroft School became the officers' mess.[3]

Canadian pilot Jack Brown, of 193 Squadron, recounts his first training flight in the relatively new, and daunting, Hawker Typhoon fighter-bomber at Harrowbeer:

"We were understandably in awe of the Tiffie's size and power. We had been warned of the violent effect of torque . . . which caused a swing to the right on takeoff . . On takeoff, I locked my left leg rigidly on the rudder bar . . . I got off safely . . [but] At times I felt as if the machine was flying me! . . . [on landing] To make sure I didn't stall it, I came in with a little too much speed. The runways at Harrowbeer were not exceptionally long and I could see a pile of bricks at the end coming up fast. Luckily, the brakes held and the machine stopped in time."

Once 193 Squadron became operational at Harrowbeer, they began patrolling the coast to intercept low level attacks by Focke Wulf Fw 190 fighter-bombers. The Typhoon patrols against the 190s

". . . were carried out by pairs of aircraft; one right down on the water, the other about a hundred feet up. Several fellows bent the ends of their props when they flew too low and actually touched the sea. We did standby duty, waiting at the end of the runway, ready to take off as soon as a Very pistol was fired from the control tower." Later, the Typhoon pilots at Harrowbeer also launched attacks on shipping targets on the French coast, the first target being Brest.[4]

Based units[edit]

The airfield opened in May 1941. It closed following the end of the Second World War.[5][6]

A large number of units used the airfield at some point, such as:

Other units[edit]



  1. ^ Falconer 1998, p. 41.
  2. ^ a b "The Rock, Yelverton" (PDF). Educational Register of Geological Sites. Devon County Council. Archived from the original (PDF) on 16 February 2016.
  3. ^ RAF HARROWBEER YELVERTON Miscellaneous Information
  4. ^ John G. (Jack) Brown, "Typhoon Pilot: Hawkers Mighty 'Tank Buster' Could Be a Handful", in William J. Wheeler, "Flying Under Fire: Canadian Fliers Recall the Second World War," (Allston, Mass., Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2001), pp. 70, 72
  5. ^ "The History of RAF Harrowbeer" Retrieved on 7 November 2008
  6. ^ a b c d e "Harrowbeer". Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation. Retrieved 28 April 2012.
  7. ^ Jefford 1988, p. 23.
  8. ^ Jefford 1988, p. 33.
  9. ^ Jefford 1988, p. 45.
  10. ^ Jefford 1988, p. 58.
  11. ^ a b Jefford 1988, p. 59.
  12. ^ Jefford 1988, p. 65.
  13. ^ Jefford 1988, p. 66.
  14. ^ Jefford 1988, p. 67.
  15. ^ Jefford 1988, p. 80.
  16. ^ Jefford 1988, p. 81.
  17. ^ a b Jefford 1988, p. 82.
  18. ^ Jefford 1988, p. 84.
  19. ^ Jefford 1988, p. 86.
  20. ^ Jefford 1988, p. 87.
  21. ^ Jefford 1988, p. 90.
  22. ^ Jefford 1988, p. 94.
  23. ^ Jefford 1988, p. 99.
  24. ^ a b Jefford 1988, p. 100.
  25. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "Harrowbeer". Airfields of Britain Conservation Trust. Retrieved 21 April 2022.


  • Falconer, J (1998). RAF Fighter Airfields of World War 2. UK: Ian Allan Publishing. ISBN 0-7110-2175-9.
  • Jefford, C G (1988). RAF Squadrons. A comprehensive record of the movement and equipment of all RAF squadrons and their antecedents since 1912. Shrewsbury: Airlife. ISBN 1-85310-053-6.

External links[edit]