RAF St Mawgan
|RAF St Mawgan|
|Near St Mawgan, Cornwall in England|
|Type||Royal Air Force station|
|Owner||Ministry of Defence|
|Operator||Royal Air Force|
|Controlled by||No. 22 Group (Training)|
|Wing Commander H. Madden|
Royal Air Force St Mawgan or more simply RAF St Mawgan is a Royal Air Force station near St Mawgan and Newquay in Cornwall, England. In 2008 the runway part of the site was handed over to Newquay Airport. The remainder of the station continues to operate under the command of the RAF. RAF St Mawgan used to have the widest military runway in the UK (300 ft) and was the home of the Cornwall Air Ambulance service and more recently 505 (Wessex) Squadron Royal Auxiliary Air Force (RAuxAF).
Second World War
Opened as a civilian airfield in 1933, it was requisitioned at the outbreak of the Second World War and named RAF Trebelzue, initially as a satellite of nearby RAF St Eval, but was expanded with twin concrete runways. In February 1943 it was renamed RAF St. Mawgan and in June 1943, the United States Army Air Forces took over and carried out a number of major improvements, including a new control tower and a further extension of the main runway. The airfield was put under care and maintenance on 1 July 1947. RAF Trebelzue was a separate airfield closer to the coast and eventually became the "bomb dump and parking area" for RAF St Mawgan. These days the Air Museum is on part of this land along with some Hardened Aircraft Shelters and special bomb dumps. St Mawgan was built slightly further inland and was a different airfield. Trebelzue control tower still exists and there is a ROC bunker near the end of one of Trebelzue's old runways.
In 1951, it reopened as a Coastal Command base for ASWDU (Air Sea Warfare Development Unit) where trials of new electronic equipment were carried out, to ascertain the suitability of the equipment for general use in Coastal Command, and for maritime reconnaissance, flying mainly Avro Shackleton aircraft, with support from a few Avro Lancaster aircraft. In 1956, No 220 and 228 Long Range Reconnaissance Squadrons were renumbered Nos 201 and 206 Squadrons and joined by 42 Squadron in 1958. RAF St Mawgan also became the Headquarters of 22 (Helicopter) Squadron. In 1965, 201 Squadron and 206 Squadron moved to RAF Kinloss and were replaced by the Maritime Operational Training Unit.
In 1956, the last Lancaster in RAF operational service left RAF St Mawgan after a brief ceremony conducted by the then Commander-in-Chief of Coastal Command, Air Marshal Sir Bryan Reynolds. The Lancaster was an MR3 variant from the School of Maritime Reconnaissance.
7 Sqn, flying English Electric Canberras, operated at RAF St Mawgan as target tugs from 1970 until 1982, with 22 Squadron moving out in 1974. 42 Squadron and 236 Operational Conversion Unit moved to RAF Kinloss in 1992, taking away RAF St Mawgan's fixed-wing station-based aircraft, the Hawker-Siddeley Nimrods which had been at the station since 1969. In 1976 some scenes in the film The Eagle Has Landed were filmed on the camp. Nuclear depth charges intended for anti-submarine use by the US Navy P-3 Orion, Royal Air Force Nimrod and former Dutch Navy P-3 Orion aircraft, were stored at the United States Navy Atomic Weapons Department, situated at the west end of the airbase.
In 2005, RAF St Mawgan was one of the airfields shortlisted to house the new Joint Combat Aircraft (JCA) in 2013, but in November 2005 it was announced by Armed Forces Minister Adam Ingram, that it would be going to RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland.
In November 2006, No. 1 Squadron RAF Regiment moved to RAF Honington and No. 2625 (County of Cornwall) Sqn Royal Auxiliary Air Force (RAuxAF) was disbanded. Helicopter maintenance (HMF) also ceased here in that year. Until May 2008, RAF St Mawgan was primarily used as a Search and Rescue training camp and was home to 203(R) Squadron, equipped with Sea King helicopters. The SAR Force HQ was also located here. Both 203(R) Squadron and the SAR Force HQ moved to RAF Valley.
On 1 December 2008 the airfield part of the camp (including the civilian side) closed but the RAF still remain on a reduced area. This was to allow full control of the airport to be handed to Cornwall County Council, with work including a new ATC tower and runway lights. The airport received a full CAA licence to operate in December 2008.
St Mawgan used to be the home of the Joint Maritime Facility, commissioned 18 August 1995, a command for undersea tracking operated by the Royal Navy and United States Navy. It was announced in early 2009 that the JMF would close in order to save the US Navy £6.5 million per year, losing 22 jobs in the process. RAF St Mawgan was the last remaining US Navy installation in the U.K. The remaining personnel from JMF at RAF St Mawgan moved to the US Navy Surface Warfare Centre, Dam Neck, Virginia.
In February 2013, £11 million was invested in the base to develop a new survival training facility providing key training areas for visiting task groups.
In March 2015 the former airfield of the base became a strong contender to be the first UK spaceport for horizontal take off and landing after being shortlisted by the Government. The plans have since changed, but Spaceport Cornwall has now been established at Newquay and is expected to launch its first satellites in 2021, as the result of a partnership with Virgin Orbit.
Role and operations
Defence Survival Training Organisation
RAF St Mawgan is currently home to Defence Survival Training Organisation (DSTO), which is a tri-service unit that teaches 'Survive, Evade, Resist, Extract' (SERE) methods for the Armed Forces in support of operations and training. They also conduct trials and equipment development. It was formerly known as the School of Combat Survival and Rescue and moved to St Mawgan from Mountbatten in 1992.
The Royal Air Force maintains a small workshop on the station, enabling construction of components for the upgrading of aircraft for all three services. Accommodation on the airfield is often used by students of Agusta Westland's training facility at Newquay Airport.
From February 2016, 120 Royal Military Police (RMP) officers of the 1st Military Police Brigade, British Army, were being hosted by the base in a new police investigation unit that will be capable of managing complex police investigations. The main investigation will look at British troops conduct in Afghanistan. Their facility, known as major incident room (MIR), will replicate the benefits of major incident rooms used by Home Office police forces when conducting complex investigations. It will use the same Home Office Large Major Enquiry System (HOLMES) for analysing and linking evidence. The RMP will come under the command of the Provost Marshal (Army). RAF St Mawgan was chosen over other locations for its availability of office and living accommodation. Married personnel and their families will be accommodated in the married quarters sites at Treloggan, St Eval (Officers) and St Columb Minor (Sergeants), which were recently renovated. Single accommodation will be provided on base in spare capacity blocks.
The headquarters of the RAF Plymouth and Cornwall Wing Air Cadets Organisation is also on the St Mawgan site.
Royal Air Force
- No. 505 (Wessex) Squadron Royal Auxiliary Air Force
- Defence Survive, Evade, Resist, Extract Training Organisation
- Air Training Corps
- Plymouth and Cornwall Wing Headquarters
- Regional Activity Centre
- Royal Military Police Major Incident Room
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