RAF Hurn: Wikis


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Royal Air Force Station Hurn
USAAF Station AAF-492

Ensign of the Royal Air Force.svg Patch9thusaaf.png

Located near Bournemouth, Dorset, United Kingdom
Hurn airfield photographed in May 1947 still showing its World War II configuration
Type Military airfield
Coordinates 50°46′54″N 001°50′23″W / 50.78167°N 1.83972°W / 50.78167; -1.83972
Location code KU
Built 1941
In use 1941-1946
Controlled by Royal Air Force
United States Army Air Forces
Garrison RAF Transport Command
Ninth Air Force
Occupants Nos 297, 295, 296, 570 Squadrons
422d Night Fighter Squadron
397th Bombardment Group
Battles/wars European Theatre of World War II
Air Offensive, Europe July 1942 - May 1945
RAF Hurn is located in Dorset
RAF Hurn, shown within Dorset
Northrop P-61A-5-NO Black Widow Serial 42-5535 of the 422d Night Fighter Squadron.
Martin B-26C-45-MO Marauder Serial 42-107832 of the 598th Bomb Squadron.
Martin B-26B-55-MA Marauder Serial 42-96142 of the 596th Bombardment Squadron.
For the civil use of this facility after 1944, see Bournemouth Airport

RAF Station Hurn is a former World War II airfield in Dorset, England. The airfield is located approximately 4 miles (6.4 km) northeast of Christchurch; about 90 miles (140 km) southwest of London

Opened in 1941, it was used by both the Royal Air Force and United States Army Air Force. During the war it was used primarily as a transport and fighter airfield.

Since 1969, it has been called Bournemouth Airport, although some still refer to it as Hurn.



The site was originally intended as a satellite airfield but a decision to put down hardened runways on the low-lying land was made in 1941.

The airfield consisted of three runways of 6,000 ft (08-26), 4,800 ft (17-35), and 3,390 ft (13-31). 30 "Frying Pan" hardstands were constructed along with 46 "Loop" type connecting to an enclosing perimeter track, of a width of 50 feet.

The ground support station was constructed largely of Nissen huts of various sizes. The support station was where the group and ground station commanders and squadron headquarters and orderly rooms were located. Also on the ground station were the mess facilities, chapel, hospital, mission briefing and debriefing, armory and bombsite storage, life support, parachute rigging, supply warehouses, station and airfield security, motor pool and the other ground support functions necessary to support the air operations of the group. These facilities were all connected by a network of single path support roads.

The technical site, connected to the ground station and airfield consisted of four T-2, three Beltman and 10 blister hangars. In addition, various organizational, component and field maintenance shops along with the crew chiefs and other personnel necessary to keep the aircraft airworthy and to quickly repair light and moderate battle damage. Aircraft severely damaged in combat were sent to repair depots for major structural repair. The ammunition dump was located on the north side of the airfield, outside of the perimeter track surrounded by large dirt mounds and concrete storage pens for storing the aerial bombs and the other munitions required by the combat aircraft.

Various domestic accommodation sites were constructed dispersed away from the airfield, but within a mile or so of the technical support site, also using clusters of Maycrete or Nissen huts. The huts were either connected, set up end-to-end or built singly and made of prefabricated corrugated iron with a door and two small windows at the front and back. They provided accommodation for 2,440 personnel, including communal and a sick quarters.

The airfield was opened in July 1941. It was used for operational fighters and paratroop training. It was closed in October 1944 by the RAF.

RAF Transport Command use

Hurn was used by the RAF beginning in March 1941 as a satellite to RAF Ibsley. The Communications Research Establishment's 1425 Flight with Liberators from RAF Honeybourne appears to have been the first unit to move into Hurn in November 1941, but following the extension of the runways, perimeter track and more hardstands in May 1942, Hurn became a major base for support squadrons for the airborne forces.

The first was No. 297 with Whitleys in June 1942, and over the next 20 months Hurn was host to the Albemarles, Halifaxes, Horsas and Hadrians of Nos. 295, 296 and 570 Squadrons and other units tasked with airborne forces' activities.

In common with other airfields in the area, Hurn was required for support of the cross-channel invasion and RAF Transport Command units were moved out in February and March 1944 so that tactical fighter units could be moved in. The newcomers were Typhoons and in the ensuing weeks Hurn became one of the major Hawker Typhoon bases in southern England, often hosting six operational squadrons. Additionally, two de Havilland Mosquito-equipped night fighter squadrons were also present for much of this period.


Hurn was known as USAAF Station AAF-492 for security reasons by the USAAF during the war, and by which it was referred to instead of location. It's USAAF Station Code was "KU".


422d Night Fighter Squadron

On 28 June 1944, Northrup P-61 Black Widow night fighters of the 422d Night Fighter Squadron arrived from RAF Scorton, where their crews had been tutored in this particular aspect of air combat by the RAF. The Black Widow was a purpose-designed night fighter but, like most warplanes of its time, was not without its 'teething troubles'. The detachment commenced operational flying on 3 July only to return to Scorton a week later.

397th Bombardment Group

On 5 August the 397th Bombardment Group arrived from RAF Rivenhall, equipped with Martin B-26 Marauders. The group consisted of the following operational squadrons:

  • 596th Bombardment Squadron (X2)
  • 597th Bombardment Squadron (9F)
  • 598th Bombardment Squadron (U2)
  • 599th Bombardment Squadron (6B)

The group's identification marking was a yellow diagonal band across both sides of the vertical tailplane.

Although moving from Rivenhall, the group arrived without ceasing operations and flew 72 missions from Hurn before moving to the Advanced Landing Ground at Gorges, France, (A-26) on 19 August, with the last departures on the 30th and 31st. Three Marauders were lost during the month's stay.

On the continent, the 397th struck enemy positions at St Malo and Brest and bombed targets in the Rouen area as Allied armies swept across the Seine and advanced to the Siegfried Line. The group began flying missions into Germany in September, attacking such targets as bridges, defended areas, and storage depots.

The 397th struck the enemy's communications during the Battle of the Bulge (Dec 1944-Jan 1945) and received a Distinguished Unit Citation for a mission on 23 December 1944 when the group withstood heavy flak and fighter attack to sever a railway bridge at Eller, a vital link in the enemy's supply line across the Moselle.

The group continued to support the Allied drive into Germany until April 1945, being stationed at Venlo, Holland (Y-55) on VE-Day. It returned to the United States during Dec 1945-Jan 1946, being inactivated at Camp Kilmer, New Jersey on 6 January 1946.

With the departure of the 397th, Hurn was used as a transitory airfield shipping personnel and materiel to France during September, but the following month the base was relinquished by the USAAF and returned to the RAF.

The airfield was closed by the RAF in October 1944 and turned over for civil use.

Civil use

With the facility released from military control, its good approaches attracted British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC), which transferred operations there from their main wartime base near Bristol. Hurn gradually assumed importance as the main airport for the London area until Heathrow was opened as London's airport in 1946. Other civil airlines which used Hurn were KLM, Pan Am and Sabena.

In the 1950s Vickers Armstrong built a factory complex on the north-western side of the airfield, producing Viscount airliners and Varsity trainers. Aircraft production ceased in the 1970s but other aviation associated business continued.

Sixty years on from the days of the Ninth Air Force, Hurn is used for private and commercial flying, the latter on an increasing scale over the last decade. The former factory sites are now used by light industry as well as some aircraft servicing.

See also


 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Air Force Historical Research Agency.

External links


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