IN REACH OF THE SKIES
Gatow airfield in Berlin is now the site of a major museum. It is best known for its role in the Berlin airlift of 1948/49 having previously been a Luftwaffe training base. The RAF were in charge for many years after WWII but soon after the Berlin Wall came down it was handed back to the Germans but closed to traffic within a year. The hangars and other buildings remain and are part of the museum, including the former control tower.The runways are significantly shorter than when the airfield was active since there is a housing development at one end although the occasional aircraft has landed before going on display. Pictures from August 2016.
Wymeswold in Leicestershire was not used for operational flying in WWII but was instead used as a training base. Originally opening in 1942 it ceased to be an RAF station in 1957. Quite a bit survives today with some old buildings being used as part of an industrial estate and the runways being used for motor sport. The control tower also survives although is now surrounded by the country's largest solar farm. Pictured in September 2016.
Fulbeck is a little east of Newark and was opened in 1940. Its prime use was for troop carrier operations although it was used by Lancasters of Bomber Command from September 1944. The airfield closed in 1948 and has subsequently returned to agriculture although there is a karting track on part of the field. I visited in September 2016.
Leiston airfield in Suffolk was constructed in 1942/3 and allocated to the USAAF 8th Air Force. It became active in October 1943. After initial use by 358th FG the 357th took up residence with their P-51 Mustangs and the base was home to the likes of Bud Anderson and Chuck Yeager. The field was returned to the RAF at war's end and closed in 1945. Agriculture has now largely taken over although a section of the main runway remains along with a narrowed full length secondary runway, accessible via a footpath. A few buildings remain dotted around although many are in a poor state of repair. Pictured in November 2016.
Foulsham in Norfolk was a FIDO equipped field that opened in 1942, remaining active until 1945. It was an RAF airfield throughout hosting a number of squadrons and all three of the four engined bomber force. Today a lot of the airfield, especially buildings, have gone although one of the main runways is evident being the base for chicken huts. A couple of reclad hangars also remain. Pictured in February 2017
Great Massingham in Norfolk was a satellite field to nearby West Raynham although at various times it was home to Blenheims, Mosquitos, Bostons and even B-17s. An early disposal by the MoD after the war it remains active as a private field using an original runway and part of the perimeter track. Part of the peri track, unusually it would seem, is also a public footpath meaning that is possible to walk past the hangar to the end of the runway. A few dilapidated buildings from the technical site remain in private use a short way from the airfield. Viewed in February 2017.
RAF Grove in Oxfordshire opened in 1943 and was occupied by the USAAF a year later. Used mainly for transport and repair services the Americans left in 1946. The site has now returned largely to agriculture although parts of the runways remain and the owner permits access to walkers. The technical site has been redeveloped although a few old buildings remain and a DH Venom, mounted on a pole, has served as a 'gate guardain' for several years. From a visit in May 2017.
Dumfries airfield opened in June 1940. It served primarily as a training base during WWII and this continued after the war when it was a base for national service recruits for the ten years to 1957. It then closed before being sold in 1960. Not much remains now as an industrial estate has taken over. However the control tower is still in situ as part of the Dumfries and Galloway museum. From an August 2017 visit.
Dallachy is best known for its 'strike wing' - Beaughfighters that operated between October 1944 and May 1945 carrying out attacks on German vessels in the North Sea and along the Norwegian coast. The airfield, which only had two runways, opened in 1943 and closed in 1945. Today the runways are in use by light industry but many of the hard standings around the airfield perimeter are easy to find. There is also an impressive memorial. Pictures from August 2017.
Watton was opened in 1937 and used by both the RAF and USAAF during WWII, primarily as a bomber airfield. It was home to RAF Bomber Command squadrons until being used by the United States Army Air Forces Eighth Air Force as a major overhaul depot for Consolidated B-24 Liberator bombers and as a weather reconnaissance base. After the war, it was returned to RAF use until acquired by the British Army in the early 1990s. It was closed then put up for sale with parts developed as a large housing estate and agriculture scheduled for the remainder. Pictures from December 2017.