Motto: Power to the Hunter
|IATA: FSS – ICAO: EGQK
– WMO: 03066
|Owner||Ministry of Defence|
|Operator||Royal Air Force, British Army|
|In use||1939 - 2012 (RAF)
2012 - (Army)
|Elevation AMSL||22 ft / 7 m|
The RAF station opened on 1 April 1939 and served as a training establishment during the Second World War. After the war it was handed over to Coastal Command to watch over Russian ships and submarines in the Norwegian Sea. Until 2010 it was the main base for the RAF's fleet of Nimrod MR2 maritime patrol aircraft. It was intended that the MR2 would be replaced by the Nimrod MRA4, but the MRA4 was cancelled in the Strategic Defence and Security Review of October 2010. This meant that Kinloss was no longer required by the RAF. Regular flying operations ceased on 31 July 2011. However, the runways will be maintained to be used as a relief landing site, e.g. from RAF Lossiemouth.
In November 2011 the Ministry of Defence and 12 (Air Support) Engineer Group announced that 930 Service personnel from 39 Engineer Regiment (Air Support) would move from Waterbeach Barracks, near Cambridge, to Kinloss in summer 2012. First units of 39 Engineer Regiment (Air Support) arrived in June 2012, with the majority expected by July.
Second World War
Construction work began in the spring of 1938 to establish RAF Kinloss as a pilot training school. Land was requisitioned from local farms Easter Langcot, Muirton and Kinloss as well as Kinloss House and on 1 April 1939 with No. 14 Flying Training School RAF (FTS) on camp and No. 45 Maintenance Unit RAF soon to follow, RAF Kinloss opened.
In 1939, 14 FTS moved south and were replaced by 19 Operational Training Unit (OTU) training bomber crews for the offensive.
The station defences were gradually established and by May 1940, Group Captain Jarman reported that the defence of Kinloss was in order.
Throughout the majority of the war 19 Operational Training Unit was the primary training unit. Between July 1940 and June 1941 it flew over 22,073 hours almost four times the rate achieved by 14 FTS the previous year.
Not long after VE Day 19 OTU was disbanded and the arrival of 6 Coastal OTU saw the beginning of Kinloss's association with maritime operations, an association that continues to this day.
The wartime Avro Lancaster was adapted without great upheaval for anti-submarine and search and rescue duties and RAF Kinloss changed from a bomber training unit, to a Coastal Command base training maritime aircrew. Its personnel now also included National Servicemen.
19 (C)OTU was split into No. 236 Operational Conversion Unit RAF and the School of Maritime Reconnaissance in 1947 with 236 OCU remaining at Kinloss. A further change in 1956 saw the units recombine as the Maritime Operational Training Unit (MOTU), which remained at Kinloss until 1965. During the Cold War Kinloss squadrons carried out anti-submarine duties, locating and shadowing Russian naval units. In 1951 217 Squadron was resurrected with MR1 Neptune ( P2V5 ) American aircraft to cover the Maritime reconnaissance and Search and Rescue roles pending the further development of the Shackleton aircraft. It was also prominent in Operation Snowdrop, supplying food to cut off villages and livestock fodder to isolated crofts in Scotland, during the winter of 1954/5. The squadron was upgraded with MR2 versions of the Neptune (P2V7 ) in 1956 only to be disbanded again in July 1956. In July 1962, the station received one of its highest honours, the Civic Freedom of the Royal and Ancient Burgh of Forres, allowing Kinloss personnel the right to march through the burgh with swords drawn. This was the first time any military unit had been so honoured by Forres throughout the burgh's 1400-year history.
In 1972 and 1976 the new Hawker Siddeley Nimrod demonstrated its capabilities when it flew surveillance sorties over Iceland's disputed fishing limits, providing support for the Royal Navy and British trawlers in the Cod Wars. For much of the period Nos 120, 201, and 206 Squadrons were the main Nimrod units.
In November 1980 two pilots, Royal Australian Air Force Flight Lieutenant Noel Anthony and RAF Flying Officer Stephen Belcher were killed when their aircraft struck birds on take off and crashed in woods to the east of Kinloss airfield. The remainder of the crew survived. Anthony was awarded the Air Force Cross and Belcher the Queen's Commendation for Valuable Service in the Air.
In 1992 Nimrod aircraft deployed to the Persian Gulf as an integral component of the coalition forces to recapture Kuwait.[clarification needed] Furthermore, Nimrods have been actively involved in the Adriatic as part of the United Nations peace-keeping force. More recently in 2003, the Nimrod played a pivotal role in Op TELIC. The station's high level of involvement in operational activities led to RAF Kinloss being awarded the coveted Stainforth Trophy for the best operational performance in 2004.
In April 2005, 206 Squadron was disbanded as part of a Defence review the previous year. The base was used for the 2005 Edinburgh and South Scotland Wing Air Cadet Annual Summer Camp.
No. 325 Expeditionary Air Wing RAF (EAW) was formed at the station on 1 April 2006. The wing encompasses most of the non-formed unit personnel on station. The EAW does not include the flying units at the station.
In December 2009, the MOD announced the premature retirement of the Nimrod MR2 by March 2010 and that the introduction of the Nimrod MRA4 would be delayed to 2012. The MRA4 was then cancelled in the Strategic Defence and Security Review of October 2010
Numbers 120 and 201 squadrons, plus 42(R) squadron (the Operational Conversion Unit), formerly equipped with the Nimrod MR2, were disbanded on 26 May 2011 following the cancellation of the Nimrod MRA4 programme.
Transition from RAF Station to Army Barracks
The Aeronautical Rescue Coordination Centre (ARCC) and co-located UK Mission Control Centre remain responsible for coordinating all rescue efforts within the UK and out into the Atlantic. This includes the receipt of signals from rescue beacons, and the dispatch and control of fixed-wing aircraft and search and rescue helicopters.
In November 2011 the Ministry of Defence announced that the first unit from the British Army would be 39 Engineer Regiment (Air Support) who will move from Waterbeach Barracks, near Cambridge, to Kinloss in July 2012. It is expected that 930 Service personnel and their families would move at this time.
The RAF station commander, Wing Commander Edwards, said in 2011: "Our plans will change from drawing down the Station to transitioning and we fully expect a smooth transition" to the Royal Engineers.
Royal Air Force
- 325 Expeditionary Air Wing (Maritime Patrol & Surveillance)
- Combat Support 2 Group
- 663 Volunteer Gliding Squadron
Army, Royal Engineers
- 39 Engineer Regiment (Air Support)
- 10 Field Squadron (Air Support) - based at RAF Leeming
- 34 Field Squadron (Air Support)
- 53 Field Squadron (Air Support)
- 48 Field Squadron (Air Support)
- 60 Headquarters & Support Squadron (Air Support)
Suspected postwar radioactive contamination
Post WW2, Kinloss was used as one of the sites to break-up the excess of aircraft that the RAF now had, and recover what ever was recyclable. The site was chosen due to its remote location, and hence easy access to potential landfill sites which would be undisturbed by the majority of the public. The aircraft broken up included various components which had carried chemical weapons (including Sulphur mustard), and were all painted with fluorescent paint containing radium to allow the planes to be more easily operated at night. On removal, these contaminated items were buried in landfill sites either on the base or close to it.
In 2004, with the development of a new water pipeline, a land quality assessment warned that sulphur mustard chemical weapons may be present within landfill and waste areas accessible to the public. The report stated that RAF Kinloss authorities believed there was a potential for chemical weapons agents and radiological contamination to be present in the ground:
|“||Any personnel involved in the ground investigation have the potential to be at risk from these contaminants. There are a number of anomalies present on the investigation area the have not been investigated, and in some areas it was not possible to conduct the geophysical survey due to heavy gorse cover||”|
However, no trace of chemical weapons agents was found during the land quality assessment, although material contaminated with radium was removed from land near the base in 2004.
After the 2004 documents became public in May 2012, it emerged that the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) was investigating radioactive contamination at the site linked to the use of "glow in the dark paint" in WW2 aircraft. Moray MP Angus Robertson and Dunfermline and West Fife MP Thomas Docherty are both making representations to the Defence Secretary, Philip Hammond.
- "Welcome to RAF Kinloss". Royal Air Force. 2012. Retrieved 21 May 2012.
- "First tranche of Army unit moves confirmed". Ministry of Defence. Retrieved 10 November 2011.
- "Waterbeach Forward - March 2012". Retrieved 24 March 2012.
- Moray gets ready to welcome the Army as advance party settles in, 19 June 2012.
- "RAF colours come down at Kinloss airfield". BBC News. 26 July 2012. Retrieved 26 July 2012.
- Scottish Daily Express 19 January 1955
- Second Supplement to the London Gazette
- "Squadron Disbandment Parade". Royal Air Force. 27 May 2011. Retrieved 11 June 2011.
- "Welcome to RAF Kinloss". Royal Air Force. Retrieved 11 June 2011.
- Crowther, Stuart. "RAF aim for a smooth transition for Kinloss base". STV Forres. Retrieved 10 November 2011.
- 39 Engineer Regiment (Air Support)
- David Miller (20 May 2012). "Chemical weapon 'risk' at RAF Kinloss in Moray". BBC Scotland. Retrieved 20 May 2012.
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