RAF Warmwell

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RAF Warmwell
USAAF Station AAF-454
RAF Moreton
Air Force Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg Patch9thusaaf.png
Located Near Warmwell, Dorset, United Kingdom
Warmwell-16aug43.jpg
Aerial Photo of Warmwell Airfield - 16 August 1943
RAF Warmwell is located in Dorset
RAF Warmwell
RAF Warmwell, shown within Dorset
Coordinates50°41′50″N 002°20′40″W / 50.69722°N 2.34444°W / 50.69722; -2.34444Coordinates: 50°41′50″N 002°20′40″W / 50.69722°N 2.34444°W / 50.69722; -2.34444
TypeRoyal Air Force station
CodeXW
Site information
Controlled byRoyal Air Force
United States Army Air Forces
ConditionDisused, airfield site reverted to quarrying (two hangars remain), technical site became a housing estate, some aircraft hardstands survive alongside road bordering the north side of the airfield where the control tower remains but has been converted to a house.
Site history
Built1936
Built byRoyal Air Force
In use1937-1946
Battles/warsEuropean Theatre of World War II
Air Offensive, Europe July 1942 - May 1945
Garrison information
GarrisonRAF Fighter Command
Ninth Air Force
Occupants152, 174, 175, 234, 263, 275, 276, 402 & 609 Squadrons, RAF
474th Fighter Group, 9th USAAF

RAF Warmwell is a former Royal Air Force station near Warmwell in Dorset, England from 1937 to 1946, located about 5 miles east-southeast of Dorchester; 100 miles southwest of London.

During the Second World War it was used by the Royal Air Force and the United States Army Air Forces Ninth Air Force.

History[edit]

RAF use[edit]

At 206'above sea level RAF Warmwell originally opened in May 1937 as a landing ground named RAF Woodsford, for units carrying out air-to-ground firing and bombing on ranges set up off the south coast of Dorset at Chesil Bank. With the airfield code of 'XW' it was renamed RAF Warmwell in July 1938 due to possible confusion with Woodford, near Manchester, which was an airfield where Avro was producing the Lancaster bomber. After the use by squadrons using the ranges diminished, and as the Second World War started more and more units were based here to act as fighter defence for the important naval facilities at Portland and Portsmouth, as well as working in 10 Group as part of the fighter defences for the south-west of England. Warmwell's three runways remained grass-surfaced for its entire life even though as the war progressed, and the emphasis became on intruding into German-occupied Europe, many intruder units were based here, using the Supermarine Spitfire, Hawker Hurricane and Tempest, and the Westland Whirlwind, the first twin-engined heavy fighter for the RAF.

USAAF use[edit]

Although USAAF-marked aircraft were seen at Warmwell from July 1942 it was not until March 1944 that the base came under American control. While under USAAF control, Warmwell was known as USAAF Station AAF-454 for security reasons, and by which it was referred to instead of location.

474th Fighter Group[edit]

The 474th Fighter Group arrived on 12 March 1944 from Oxnard Flight Strip California[1] flying Lockheed P-38 "Lightnings". Operational squadrons of the group were:

Resumed RAf use[edit]

The 474th was a group of Ninth Air Force's 70th Fighter Wing, IX Tactical Air Command which left for the Continent in August 1944, and the RAF once more assumed control of the airfield. After the last RAF squadrons to be based there left and Armament Practice Camps stopped using the ranges by October 1945 the station went onto Care and Maintenance the following month before closing down. During the immediate post-war years the hangars were used for food storage but this was not quite the end for the airfield, for during the extensive test programme for the Westland Wyvern, company test pilot Harald Penrose had to make a force-landing on the obstructed and overgrown surface.


Bellman Hangars Warmwell 2007
Brick Block house Warmwell 2007
Rifle Range Warmwell 2007

Current use[edit]

The airfield proper has for many years been occupied by a quarry which has effectively removed all trace of the flying field, whilst the site on which the technical site once lay is now a small village called Crossways, the original northern taxiway being still in use as a road through the village where two dispersal pans and the old ATC tower (albeit heavily converted to a public dwelling - Egdon House) still remain, and the old station cinema is now the village hall. The two bellman style hangars still remain, rumoured to be used by local farmers for fertilizer storage, plus an Over Blister hangar (one of eight built during the war) and other buildings exist in the woodland areas surrounding Crossways, although some have been demolished. One of the base's billets is now one of the local shops, and at the junction of Mount Skippet Way and Airfield Close in Crossways village housing is a memorial to the airfield, located in a grassed recreational area. During recent clearance work in preparation for new buildings on the North East side of the old airfield a brick block house and a concrete rifle range were revealed. Both have now been demolished but the photographs shown were taken just prior to their removal. Further clearances to build an access road across the south-east corner of the flying field has also resulted in the excavation of a group of the aircraft tie-down points.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

 This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website http://www.afhra.af.mil/.

Citations[edit]

  1. ^ Maurer 1980, p. 347.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Freeman, Roger A. (1994) UK Airfields of the Ninth: Then and Now 1994. After the Battle ISBN 0-900913-80-0
  • Freeman, Roger A. (1996) The Ninth Air Force in Colour: UK and the Continent-World War Two. After the Battle ISBN 1-85409-272-3
  • Maurer, M. Air Force Combat Units Of World War II. USAF Historical Division. Washington D.C., USA: Zenger Publishing Co., Inc, 1980. ISBN 0-89201-092-4.
  • USAAS-USAAC-USAAF-USAF Aircraft Serial Numbers--1908 to present
  • Anthony Cooke (2000) Reflections of RAF Warmwell: ISBN 0-9539052-0-9
  • Anthony Cooke (1995) Airfield Focus - 21: Warmwell . ISBN 1 870384 42 3

External links[edit]