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Historic England Research Records

Martlesham Heath Airfield

Hob Uid: 1405763
Location :
Suffolk
East Suffolk
Martlesham, Kesgrave, Foxhall
Grid Ref : TM2440045100
Summary : A military airfield, used in both World Wars and post-war to 1963. The airfield was initially opened in 1917 as the base for the Aeroplane Experimental Unit. In 1922 a fire damaged part of the technical buildings and the airfield was subsequently rebuilt. In the interwar years both civil and military aircraft were tested. Early in the Second World War the war the test function was moved to a safer site and the airfield was used for intercepting enemy aircraft over the sea with fighter aircraft (including 17, 29, 504, 85 and 151 squadrons). It was also used by squadrons of 11 Group during the Battle of Britain. In 1943 the site was redeveloped for use by the 356th Fighter Group of the United States 8th Army Air Force as Station 369. This included hard surface runways being laid down. The redeveloped site included a control tower on the west side (now housing a museum opened in 2000- please see TM 24 NW 74 for details) with an ammunition dump and fuel store to the south of the flying field. The pre-war RAF camp and 1917 hangars were on the north-east side. Opposite this to the south of the main runway were technical buildings around a main square. Post-war some of the experimental functions of the airfield were resumed. The main runway was extended further. Part of the experimental work for Britain's nuclear deterrent was carried out here. The RAF left the site in 1963, since then the airfield has been mainly used for commercial industrial purposes and has been mainly built over.
More information : Martllesham heath Airfield, Suffolk, TM 242 454. The source gives a brief statistical profile of the airfield as it stood in 1944. (1)

The airfield was initially opened in 1917 as the base for the Aeroplane Experimental Unit. In 1943 the site was redeveloped for use by the 356th Fighter Group of the United States 8th Army Air Force as Station 369. This included hard surface runways being laid down. For the layout of the redeveloped site see the reproduced annotated British and German air photographs on p156 and 157. The features included a control tower on the west side with an ammunition dump and fuel store to the south of the flying field. The pre-war RAF camp and 1917 hangars were on the north-east side. Opposite this to the south of the main runway were technical buildings around a main square. The German photograph also shows what were interpreted as anti-aircraft batteries, marked "Flak", as well as blast pens for aircraft , annotated as "Splitterschutzwaelle fuer Flugzeuge", the latter being on the north-west side of the airfield. (2)

Early on in World War Two the experimental functions of the base were transferred to Boscomb Down. Instead Martlesham was used as a base to intercept enemy aircraft over the sea. The source gives details of the British and American units using the base during World War Two. Post-war some of the experimental functions of the base were reusumed: part of the experimental work for Britain's nuclear deterrent was carried out here. The main runway was also lengthened. The RAF left the site in 1963, since then the airfield has been mainly used for commercial and industrial purposes. The control tower now houses a museum opened in 2000. (3)

Martlesham Heath Airfield (disused) centered at TM 242 454 (NAT), mainly depicted on OS 1:10000 sheet TM 24 NW, also extends onto TM 24 NE, TM 24 SE and TM24 SW. (4-6)

Martlesham Heath Airfield is briefly recorded as a World War Two aifield on the Defence of Britain Database at TM 245 455. (7)

RAF Martlesham was used by RAF 11 Group as a fighter airfield during the Battle of Britain. The following units were stationed here during the battle: No 25 Squadron from 19 June 1940, No 257 Squadron from 5 September 1940, No 17 Squadron from 8 October 1940. (8)

According to feedback received via the PastScape website, in addition to the Control Tower there are many of the original buildings still in use for commercial purposes. They include the four barrack blocks and the old administrative buildings, station headquarters, guard-room, hangars, etc. (9)


Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Military airfields in the British Isles 1939-1945
Source details :
Page(s) : 136
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Source Number : 2
Source : Airfields of the eighth : then and now
Source details :
Page(s) : 156-157
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Source Number : 3
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Bowyer MJF, 2000: "Action Stations Revisited: The Complete History of Britain's Military Airfields" No1, Eastern England, pp 244-248
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Source Number : 4
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : 1:10000, 1971
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Source Number : 5
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : 1:10000, 1975
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Source Number : 6
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : 1:10000, 1982
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Source Number : 7
Source : Migrated Defence of Britain Project database record originally compiled from various sources
Source details : The two databases developed by the Project can be searched on-line through the Archaeology Data Service at http://ads.ahds.ac.uk/catalogue/specColl/dob/index.cfm
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Source Number : 8
Source : World Wide Web page
Source details : Royal Air Force, Crown Copyright 2005. 'Battle of Britain: 11 Group'. <> [Accessed 09-JUL-2010].
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Source Number : 9
Source : Oral information, correspondence (not archived) or staff comments
Source details : Feedback received 30-AUG-2011
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Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : 20th Century
Display Date : Rebuilt 1922
Monument End Date : 1922
Monument Start Date : 1922
Monument Type : Airfield
Evidence : Documentary Evidence
Monument Period Name : 20th Century
Display Date : Runway extended
Monument End Date : 1963
Monument Start Date : 1946
Monument Type : Runway
Evidence : Structure
Monument Period Name : Second World War
Display Date : Opened in 1917
Monument End Date : 1917
Monument Start Date : 1917
Monument Type : Military Airfield, Aircraft Hangar
Evidence : Documentary Evidence
Monument Period Name : Second World War
Display Date : World War II
Monument End Date : 1945
Monument Start Date : 1939
Monument Type : Military Airfield
Evidence : Structure
Monument Period Name : Second World War
Display Date : Rebuilt 1943
Monument End Date : 1943
Monument Start Date : 1943
Monument Type : Military Airfield, Runway, Ammunition Dump, Fuel Store
Evidence : Structure, Documentary Evidence

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : Defence of Britain Database UID
External Cross Reference Number : S0004289
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : DoB Anti Invasion Database UID
External Cross Reference Number : S0004289
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : TM 24 NW 73
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Associated Monuments : 1464991
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 1405778
Relationship type :

Related Activities :
Associated Activities : Primary, THE DEFENCE OF BRITAIN PROJECT
Activity type : MEASURED SURVEY
Start Date : 1995-04-01
End Date : 2002-03-01
Associated Activities : Primary, RAF MARTLESHAM HEATH
Activity type : ARCHITECTURAL SURVEY
Start Date : 2008-01-01
End Date : 2011-12-31