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|Part of British Forces Germany|
|Near Weeze, North Rhine-Westphalia in Germany|
Eine feste burg
(German for A mighty fortress)
|Type||Royal Air Force station|
|Operator||Royal Air Force|
|In use||1945– 30 October 1999|
|Fate||Transferred to civilian use and became Weeze Airport in 2003.|
|Identifiers||IATA: LRC, ICAO: ETUL (EDUL pre 1 Jan 1995), WMO: 10405|
The former Royal Air Force Station Laarbruch, more commonly known as RAF Laarbruch ICAO EDUL (from 1 January 1995 ETUL) was a Royal Air Force station, a military airfield, located in Germany on its border with the Netherlands. The Station's motto was Eine feste Burg ("A Mighty Fortress").
The site now operates as the civilian Airport Weeze.
The British army built Advanced Landing Ground Goch (B-100) during World War II in preparation for the final push across the Rhine River in early 1945. The infrastructure was straightforward and simple: a 3,600 feet (1,100 m) PSP runway with a parallel 3,000 feet (910 m) grass emergency runway, refuelling was done with jerrycans, and there was enough space for two complete Wings.
It was only used between 4 March and late April. The first unit to fly from the airfield was No. 662 Squadron RAF operating Taylorcraft Auster, who remained at the airfield until 24 March. They were followed by the British 121 Wing (20 March) operating Hawker Typhoon. Ten days later the Canadian No. 143 Wing joined them. The Hawker Typhoons of 121 Wing were exchanged for the Supermarine Spitfires of Canadian No. 127 Wing by mid-April, but by the end of that month all Wings had left. This ended the use of B-100 airfield.
In 1954 Royal Air Force Germany (RAFG) rebuilt the World War II airfield, with a 2,565 meters (8,415 ft) runway, as RAF Laarbruch due to the outbreak of the Cold War. Laarbruch was home to various first-line squadrons, including No. 2 Squadron RAF flying F-4 Phantom II; and 15 and 16 Squadrons flying BAe Buccaneers and 25 Squadron 'C' Flight with Bristol Bloodhound surface to air missiles in the 1970s, followed by Jaguars in the 1980s. These were replaced by Tornadoes with four squadrons (2, 15, 16,and 20) resident.
After the first Gulf War, many of the squadrons were relocated, No. 2 Sqn going back to RAF Marham; and 15, 16, and 20 becoming reserve squadrons. When RAF Gütersloh closed, the Harriers of No. 3 Squadron RAF and No. 4 Squadron RAF squadrons moved in along with the helicopters of 18(B) Squadron. Laarbruch was also home to 1 and 26 Squadron RAF Regiment. 18 Squadron returned to RAF Odiham in 1997 with the remaining Harrier squadrons departing to RAF Cottesmore in 1999.
After closing in 1999 the airfield found a new civilian lease of life as the budget airline airport Flughafen Niederrhein (Lower Rhine Airport), now known as Airport Weeze after the nearest large settlement. Civil operations began in May 2003.
- No. 2 Squadron RAF; flying Phantom FGR.2 up to 1976 and the SEPECAT Jaguar GR.1/T.2 from 1976 until the 1980s, then the Panavia Tornado GR.1A from the late 1980s until the unit was re-located to RAF Marham in 1991.
- No. 3 Squadron RAF; flying English Electric Canberra B(I).8 (1968–72), then again from here from 1992 until 1999 with the BAe Harrier GR.5A, then Harrier GR.7 until the unit was re-located to RAF Cottesmore in 1999.
- No 4 Squadron RAF; flying the BAE Harrier GR.7 version from 1992 until the unit was re-located to RAF Cottesmore in 1999.
- No. 5 Squadron RAF; flying Gloster Javelin FAW.5 (1959–62).
- No. 15 Squadron RAF; flying the Blackburn Buccaneer S.2 from the 1970s until conversion to the Panavia Tornado GR.1 in 1983 until 1991.
- No. 16 Squadron RAF; flying English Electric Canberra B(I).8 (1958–72), Blackburn Buccaneer S.2 (1972–83), Panavia Tornado GR.1 (1983–91)
- No. 18 Squadron RAF; flying Boeing-Vertol Chinook HC.1 helicopters (1992–97)
- No. 20 Squadron RAF; flying Panavia Tornado GR.1 (1984–92)
- No. 31 Squadron RAF; flying English Electric Canberra PR.7 (1955–71)
- No. 68 Squadron RAF; flying Gloster Meteor NF.11 (1957–59) until reformation as No.5 Squadron flying Gloster Javelin.
- No. 69 Squadron RAF; flying English Electric Canberra PR.3 (1954–58).
- No. 79 Squadron RAF; flying Gloster Meteor FR.9 (54–55)
- No. 80 Squadron RAF; flying English Electric Canberra PR.7 (1955–57).
- No. 1 Squadron RAF Regiment.
- No. 26 Squadron RAF Regiment.
- Security Squadron RAF Police supplied on and off station security and Policing duties.
- No 25 Squadron C Flight Bloodhound missiles
- List of aircraft of the Royal Air Force
- List of former Royal Air Force stations
- List of Royal Air Force aircraft squadrons
- RAF Laarbruch
- Johnson, David C. (1988), U.S. Army Air Forces Continental Airfields (ETO), D-Day to V-E Day; Research Division, USAF Historical Research Center, Maxwell AFB, Alabama.