Battle of Britain Airfields




Kenley Fighter Station 1940.


The airspace over Britain was divided up into 4 groups, with air fields in each area, all with the task to repel invading forces and enemy aircraft. 11 Group was the largest of the groups, as this covered London and the South East, both the most densely populated part of the UK, and closest to the European mainland, where Luftwaffe planes were attacking from.

The fighter stations of the Battle of Britain have all changed since the war in different ways. Whilst some are museums dedicated to telling the story of the Battle of Britain others are now housing estates, where it is hard to believe such dramatic events took place there, just 75 years ago. Of the four Group HQ's; RAF Box (10 Group HQ) is used by the MoD for Defence equipment. RAF Uxbridge (11 Group HQ) still has the underground operations room as it was during the war and is open to visitors. RAF Watnell (12 Group HQ) is now a mix of housing and industrial units as well as a nature reserve. RAF Newcastle (13 Group HQ) is now a housing estate in the northern suburbs of the city. However, a group do have access to the underground tunnels and there is potential for it to open to visitors in the future if funds were provided for restoration work and make them safe for public access.

Some of the airfields continue to have an aviation use, with some even being large civilian airports. For example RAF Exeter is now Exeter International Airport, RAF Rochford is now London Southend Airport. RAF Dyce is now Aberdeen Airport and RAF Turnhouse is now Edinburgh International Airport. A few continue as RAF bases, such as RAF Northolt.

Other more unusual uses include RAF Acklington and RAF Ford, now both HMP, rather than RAF. For those not in the UK reading this, this stands for HER MAJESTY'S PRISON! RAF Westhampnett is now Goodwood Motor Circuit. RAF Usworth in 13 Group is now home to a huge Nissan car factory. RAF Martlesham Heath in 11 Group, is now a key British Telecom site.

Below is the full list of fighter plane airfields in the four groups. Any fighter station which has a museum that is open to the public is linked to their visitor website.

10 Group 

Area covered - Wales and the West Country
Commander - Air Vice Marshall Sir Quintin Brand

AIRFIELDS

RAF Box HQ
RAF Middle Wallop 
RAF Filton
RAF Boscombe Down
RAF Colerne
RAF Exeter
RAF Pembrey
RAF Roborough
RAF St Eval
RAF Warmwell

11 Group 
Area covered - South East England & London 
Commander - Air Vice-Marshal Keith Park. 

AIRFIELDS

RAF Uxbridge HQ
RAF Biggin Hill  - The Ghosts of Biggin Hill, old documentary. HERE
RAF Debden
RAF Hornchurch
RAF Kenley
RAF Northolt
RAF North Weald
RAF Tangmere  Tangmere 1985 documentary about the WWII airfield. HERE
RAF Croydon
RAF Detling
RAF Eastchurch
RAF Ford
RAF Gosport
RAF Gravesend
RAF Hawkinge
RAF Hendon (Main RAF museum in the UK, located in North London.)
RAF Lympne
RAF Manston
RAF Martlesham Heath
RAF Rochford
RAF Stapleford Tawney
RAF Thorney Island
RAF Westhampnett
RAF West Malling

12 Group 
Area covered - Midlands and East Anglia
Commander - Air Vice-Marshal Trafford Leigh-Mallory. 

AIRFIELDS

RAF Watnall HQ
RAF Church Fenton
RAF Digby
RAF Duxford  (Best preserved WWII air base in Europe. Imperial War Museum branch)
RAF Kirton in Lindsey
RAF Wittering
RAF Coltishall
RAF Fowlmere
RAF Leconfield

RAF Tern Hill

13 Group
Area covered - Northern England, Scotland and Northern Ireland
Commander - Air Vice-Marshal Richard Saul. 

AIRFIELDS

RAF Newcastle HQ (Not currently open to the public. It could be in the future if conserved.)
RAF Acklington
RAF Dyce
RAF Turnhouse
RAF Usworth
RAF Wick
RAF Catterick
RAF Drem
RAF Grangemouth
RAF Kirkwall
RAF Sumburgh
RAF Castletown

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