The Info List - RAF Finningley

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Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force
or RAF Finningley
is a former Royal Flying Corps and Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force
station at Finningley, South Yorkshire, England, partly within the traditional county boundaries of Nottinghamshire
and partly in the West Riding of Yorkshire, now wholly within the Metropolitan Borough of Doncaster. RAF Finningley
was decommissioned in 1996. The airfield has been now developed into an international airport named Doncaster Sheffield Airport, which opened on 28 April 2005.


1 History

1.1 Origins 1.2 Second World War 1.3 Post Second World War 1.4 The Cold War years and after

2 Units 3 Facilities

3.1 Aircrew training 3.2 RAF Search and Rescue 3.3 RAF Finningley
Battle of Britain
Battle of Britain
Air Display 3.4 Housing

4 Closure 5 In popular culture 6 Commanding officers 7 References

7.1 Citations 7.2 Bibliography

8 External links

History[edit] Origins[edit]

A Royal Aircraft Factory BE.2
Royal Aircraft Factory BE.2
Fighter. Aircraft identical to this were based at Finningley
during 1915.

During the refurbishment of the Royal Flying Corps
Royal Flying Corps
station at Doncaster in 1915 a decision was taken to move operations temporarily to an air strip at Bancroft Farm at Finningley. This flight of aircraft is thought to have consisted of Royal Aircraft Factory BE.2c fighters. These fighters were used to intercept Zeppelin bombers approaching Yorkshire cities from the East Coast, in this instance, the heavily industrialised City of Sheffield. Finningley
became a Royal Flying Corps
Royal Flying Corps
Military Airfield in 1915. Second World War[edit] Finningley's participation in RAF Bomber Command's offensive may have been short but the station played a vital part in finishing crews with operational training for the bombing role. An early pre-war expansion scheme airfield the site, farmland in a well wooded locality four miles southeast of Doncaster was acquired in the summer of 1935. The Gainsborough-Doncaster LNER
line ran a quarter mile to the north and Finningley
village lay a similar distance to the east. The flying field covered around 250 acres (100 ha) with the camp area situated to the northwest between Mare Flats Plantation and the A1 'Great North Road' (now the A638). Four Type C hangars were erected in the usual crescent layout facing the bombing circle, with a fifth directly behind the southernmost of the line. Administration and technical site buildings were immediately to the rear of the hangars. Nos. 7[1] and 102[2] RAF Squadrons moved in during August 1936 from RAF Worthy Down
RAF Worthy Down
with Handley Page Heyfords, this was before the official opening date given in station records (3 September).[citation needed] During the next year, No. 7 Squadron split into No. 76 and No. 102 similarly divided to produce No. 77 the latter two soon being moved south to RAF Honington. No. 7 Squadron converted to Whitleys in March and April 1938 while No. 76 continued to operate Wellesleys, the type it had been formed to fly.[3] By the end of that year No. 5 Group completed its acquisition of No. 3 Group stations north of the Wash and, under its control, Finningley
squadrons started conversion to the Handley Page Hampden, with Avro Ansons to fill out strength until more of this new type were available from production.[4] The need to establish units devoted to training crews on the new bomber types resulted in the setting up of so-called pool squadrons during the summer of 1939. A revision of this arrangement brought the designated pool squadrons into operational training units and, shortly after war was declared, both the Finningley
squadrons moved to Upper Heyford to form one of these organisations.[4] Finningley
was to continue in a training role for No. 106 Squadron, which brought its Hampdens from RAF Cottesmore
RAF Cottesmore
in October.[5] Also classed as a reserve squadron, No. 106 continued the operational training role for No. 5 Group that the previous occupants had started to provide.[4] During early 1940, Fairey Battles of 98 Squadron were moved to RAF Finningley
from RAF Scampton.[6] By August 1940 the critical war situation caused No. 106 to be placed on operational call. Most of its early sorties were to drop mines in the approaches to French Channel ports thought to be harbouring invasion barges. There was still need for a final polish for new Hampden crews and in February 1941 No. 106 left its 'C' Flight at Finningley
to continue with this task while the rest of the squadron moved to RAF Coningsby
RAF Coningsby
for full offensive operations. While flying from Finningley, six Hampdens had failed to return. In March the former No. 106 "C" Flight metamorphosised into No. 25 OTU, initially continuing to train with Hampdens and Ansons. A few Manchesters arrived in the spring of 1941, and the unit was later bolstered with Wellingtons.[7] Early in 1942 Finningley
passed to No. 1 Group and with no further need for Hampdens or Manchesters No. 25 OTU
No. 25 OTU
concentrated on Wellingtons, nine of which were lost when the station was called upon to take part in Bomber Command operations. No. 25 OTU
No. 25 OTU
was disbanded in February 1943 and in March No. 18 OTU
No. 18 OTU
moved in from RAF Bramcote
RAF Bramcote
and began using RAF Bircotes
RAF Bircotes
and RAF Worksop
RAF Worksop
as satellites. In November the Wellingtons were moved to these satellites as hard runways were to be laid at Finningley. These were put down during the winter of 1943–44, the main 03-21 being 2,000 yards (1,830 m), 07-25 4,200 feet (1,280 m) and 12–30 4,200 ft. A concrete perimeter track had been laid in The 1942 and asphalt pan-type hardstandings constructed in 1940–41 linked to it, two of the original clusters crossing the A614 road
A614 road
between Finningley
village and Bawtry. A single loop-type standing was added to bring the total to 36. Some additional domestic accommodation was provided to cater for a maximum 1,592 males and 459 females. The bomb store was in Finningley
Big Wood.[citation needed] The station re-opened for flying in May 1944 when No. 18 OTU
No. 18 OTU
returned from RAF Bramcote. By the end of that year requirements for operational training had reduced and in January 1945 the OTU was disbanded and the Wellingtons removed.[8] The Bomber Command Instructors School had been established at Finningley
in December 1944 and this organisation, with a variety of bomber types, saw out the remaining months of the war at this station and did not depart until the spring of 1947. Navigational training was the main objective of No. 6 Flying Training School RAF, first using Vickers Varsity
Vickers Varsity
and later Hawker Siddeley Dominie aircraft. Although Finningley
passed to Support Command in 1977, its training role continued throughout in the next decade before RAF activity was terminated.[9] Sister RAF stations of RAF Finningley
located in and around Doncaster included:[10]

RAF Bawtry

Located at Bawtry Hall
Bawtry Hall
in Bawtry
this was No 1 Group Bomber Command Headquarters and administration unit. The airfield at RAF Bawtry
RAF Bawtry
was operated by RAF Bircotes. RAF Bawtry
RAF Bawtry
became the centre of the RAF Meteorological Service and ceased military operations in 1986.

RAF Bircotes

A satellite from RAF Finningley
operating Avro Ansons, Wellingtons, and Manchesters from No. 25 OTU. Also operating No. 1 Group RAF
No. 1 Group RAF
Bomber Command HQ Communications Flight in support of RAF Bawtry

RAF Doncaster

First opened in 1908 as one of the world's first airports, it took on biplane fighters during the First World War to combat German Zeppelins and later became a transportation squadron during the Second World War. The runway has now been lost to urban development; however a museum remains.

RAF Lindholme

RAF Lindholme
RAF Lindholme
was home to the No 1 Lancaster Finishing School and between 1952 and 1972 was home to the Bomber Command Bombing School (BCBS), later Strike Command Bombing School and Air Navigation School.

RAF Misson

An 850-acre (340 ha) bombing range used by No 25 and No 18 OTU at RAF Finningley
during the Second World War. Post-war became a Bloodhound ASM battery location as part of 94 Sqn. Now private land. The location of the Bloodhound missile stands are still visible in aerial photographs.

RAF Sandtoft

A Lancaster Bomber dispersal airfield, taken over by the USAF in 1957. Part is now a commercial airfield, the rest is under industrial use. Post Second World War[edit] From 1946 to 1954 a number of different training units were stationed at Finningley
with a variety of aircraft types. No. 616 Squadron RAF was re-formed at Finningley
on 31 July 1946 equipped with de Havilland Mosquito NF XXX night fighters which were replaced with Gloster Meteor F.3 day fighters a few months later. On the Monday 11 August 1952, a Meteor F.4 serial number RA376, located at RAF Finningley, and was one of the aircraft used by No. 215 Advanced Flying School RAF (AFS) had just taken off from the airfield for an exercise when it crashed close to Firbeck Hall in Nottinghamshire, approximately 8 miles (13 km) from the runway. A number of units withdrew in 1954 (including No. 215 ATS) leaving only the Meteors of No. 616 Squadron, Royal Auxiliary Air Force, manned largely by part-time personnel, but their days at Finningley
were numbered for in May 1955 the squadron moved to RAF Worksop. The reason was that Finningley
was about to be given a new lease of life as a V bomber station. The Cold War years and after[edit]

Vulcan XH558
was based at Finningley
between 1960 and 1968

During the next two years work was carried out to re-lay and extend the main runway to approximately 3,000 yards (2.7 km). Unit stores for atomic weapons were also constructed to house Green Grass in Yellow Sun, Violet Club
Violet Club
and Blue Steel weapons. The airfield became known as the home of the 'V' Bomber after Avro Vulcans, Handley Page Victors and Vickers Valiants had all been stationed at the base. Finningley
maintained its nuclear weapon storage facility for many years. Finningley
re-opened in the spring of 1957, No. 101 Squadron was re-formed in October that year to operate Vulcan bombers.[2] A year later No. 18 Squadron RAF
No. 18 Squadron RAF
with ECM Vickers Valiants was also established at Finningley.[11] In 1961, No. 101 Squadron RAF
No. 101 Squadron RAF
took its Vulcans to RAF Waddington[2] changing places with the Vulcan training organisation, No. 230 Operational Conversion Unit RAF. It was two years from 101 Sqn leaving that in 1961, the Valiant having seen its day, No. 18 Squadron was disbanded.[11] The Vulcan OCU stayed with RAF Finningley
from June 1961 until December 1969. In 1970 there was an arson attack on Number 2 Hangar by a serving RAF member. After the hangar was locked and secured at 1700hrs he lit a fire under an aircraft, obviously with catastrophic results. The hangar was badly damaged, and the perpetrator charged and imprisoned. Victor Bombers were added to the Finningley
scene in later years before RAF Strike Command (the amalgamation of Bomber and Fighter Commands on 30 April 1968) moved its units out and Training Command took over the station in May 1970. On 14 January 1992, a new Air Navigation School building was opened, built at a cost of £5.2m.[12] Arguably the most famous of the Finningley's Avro Vulcan
Avro Vulcan
Bombers was aircraft XH558. On 1 July 1960 XH558
was the first Vulcan B.2 to enter RAF service and was immediately transferred to No. 230 Operational Conversion Unit at RAF Finningley
before continuing its career. XH558 was restored to flight by the Vulcan to the Sky Trust and the aircraft was displayed during airshows until the end of 2015. On 29 March 2011 XH558
returned to Doncaster airport and Finningley, and she was once again at her original home. XH558
still resides there now, she remains in operating condition but without a permit to fly. Unfortunately, the three expert companies who were supporting the Vulcan in remaining airborne – BAE Systems, Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group and Rolls-Royce, collectively known as the ‘technical authorities’ - decided to cease their support at the end of the 2015 flying season. Without their support, under Civil Aviation Authority regulations, XH558
is prohibited from flying.[13] Since Moving to Doncaster, the Vulcan and the Canberra has been removed from the Hanger and have been left outside ever since and Doncaster Council recently approved construction of a special built hanger for XH558
and WK163 but that will take years to construct. Units[edit] The following units were also here at some point:[14]

No. 1 Group Communications Flight RAF No. 1 Group Standardisation Unit RAF No. 1 (Pilot) Refresher Flying Unit RAF No. 2 (Pilot) Refresher Flying Unit RAF No. 5 Group Pool RAF No. 5 Group Training Flight RAF No. 6 Anti-Aircraft Co-operation Unit RAF No. 6 Flying Training School RAF No. 7 Anti-Aircraft Co-operation Unit RAF No. 7 Blind Approach Training Flight RAF No. 9 Air Experience Flight RAF No. 18 Operational Training Unit RAF No. 21 Operational Training Unit RAF No. 25 Operational Training Unit RAF No. 64 Group Communications Flight RAF No. 101 FRS RAF? No. 202 Advanced Flying School RAF No. 215 Advanced Flying School RAF No. 230 Operational Conversion Unit RAF No. 1507 (Beam Approach Training) Flight RAF No. 1521 (Beam Approach Training) Flight RAF No. 1685 (Bomber) Defence Training Flight RAF Air Electronics, Engineer & Loadmaster School RAF Bomber Command Development Unit RAF Electronic Counter Measures Modification Centre RAF Flying Refresher School RAF Joint Forward Air Controller Training & Standards Unit RAF Multi-Engine Training Squadron RAF RAF Central Night Vision Training School RAF Sea King Command Engineering Development & Investigation Team RAF Search & Rescue Helicopter Wing RAF Strike Command Development Unit RAF Yorkshire Universities Air Squadron
Yorkshire Universities Air Squadron

Facilities[edit] Aircrew training[edit]

A Jet Provost flight training aircraft

During the 1970s all RAF navigators passed through the Air Navigation School (ANS) of No. 6 Flying Training School (FTS) at RAF Finningley, when the BAe Dominie
BAe Dominie
T.1 s of No. 1 Stradishall and the Varsities No. 2 ANS moved there from RAF Gaydon. During 1970, a Varsity aircraft caught fire in one of Hangars and subsequently destroyed 2 other aircraft by setting them ablaze. Low level navigation training took place on the BAC Jet Provost, eventually using the T.5A variant. The Vickers Varsity
Vickers Varsity
was phased out in 1976 making No. 6 FTS an all-jet school. RAF Finningley
also played host to Multi-engine training and Operational Navigation training again via 6 FTS was responsible for training all the Royal Airforce Multi-Engine pilots using twin-turboprop Handley Page Jetstream
Handley Page Jetstream
T.1 aircraft.

Jetstream T1 training aircraft

Later the Jet Provost T.5A aircraft were replaced by British Aerospace Hawk T.1 aircraft and finally these were replaced by Short Tucano
Short Tucano
T1. RAF Finningley
was also home to all initial airman aircrew training (Air Electronics Operators, Air Engineers and Air Loadmasters).[15] Finningley
was also home to Yorkshire Universities Air Squadron, who flew Bulldogs at the time, as well as Chipmunk T.10s of 9 AEF In its last years as an RAF station, Finningley
was home to No. 100 Squadron RAF who had moved from RAF Wyton. The Squadron's main tasks were as a target facilities flight providing airborne targets for surface-based radar and missile sites, and as an agile and small 'aggressor' aircraft for Dissimilar air combat training
Dissimilar air combat training
(DACT) for UK-based operational aircraft. RAF Search and Rescue[edit]

RAF Westland Whirlwind XJ729 of No 22 Sqn seen here at RAF Finningley in 1985

The RAF Search and Rescue Wing was first formed at RAF Finningley
in 1976, when two squadrons, No. 22 Squadron RAF
No. 22 Squadron RAF
and No. 202 Squadron RAF, came together from Thorney Island and Leconfield. Finningley became the administrative home of the two squadrons with their bright yellow painted Westland Whirlwind HAR.10, Westland Sea King
Westland Sea King
HAR.3 and Westland Wessex
Westland Wessex
HAR.2 helicopters. All major engineering work was carried out by the Engineering Squadron in Hangar 1. RAF Finningley
Battle of Britain
Battle of Britain
Air Display[edit] The first air display at Finningley
was held in September 1945.[16] For two decades RAF Finningley
was home to the Battle of Britain
Battle of Britain
Air Display which was the largest one-day airshow event in the country, and a similar show was held in Scotland at RAF Leuchars
RAF Leuchars
in Fife on the same day as that at Finningley
each year. The aerobatic airshow and the display of military hardware became so well known nationally that the show attracted huge crowds and eventually became televised on national TV. Famous memorable incidents during the airshows include a BAC Lightning
BAC Lightning
breaking the sound barrier above the crowd during a display and an Avro Vulcan
Avro Vulcan
bomber scramble. In 1977, the Queen's Silver Jubilee Air Show was held at RAF Finningley, replacing for that year the Battle of Britain
Battle of Britain
Air Show. Housing[edit] In the 1960s substantial housing development took place to accommodate the families. This began with the Spey Drive Estate, at Auckley. Closure[edit] In 1994 the Ministry of Defence announced RAF Finningley
was to close as part of the Front Line First defence cuts. It closed in 1996 and three years later Peel Holdings, a property and transport company in the UK bought the land and transformed it into Robin Hood Airport Doncaster Sheffield.[17] In popular culture[edit] Finningley
has also made at least one momentary appearance in fiction in the BBC
film Threads, before the base is destroyed by a Soviet nuclear warhead. It is briefly mentioned in the Netflix
series The Crown. Commanding officers[edit]


---------DATE--------- – --COMMANDING OFFICER--


21 August 1936

Wg Cdr A N Gallehawk, A.F.C

27 January 1937

Gp Capt H J F Hunter, M.C.

15 June 1939

Wg Cdr D S Allan

7 August 1939

Gp Capt F O Soden, D.F.C

18 December 1939

Gp Capt R B Maycock

28 July 1940

Gp Capt J C Foden, A.F.C

30 December 1941

Gp Capt J N Boothman

10 June 1942

Gp Capt R G Harman

1 December 1944

Gp Capt R H Young, D.S.O. A.F.C

26 September 1945

Gp Capt D.J.Eayrs, D.F.C

13 January 1947

Gp Capt H E Nowell


2 April 1947

Gp Capt D N Roberts C.B.E A.F.C

16 January 1950

Gp Capt C.C. O'Grady

17 April 1951

Gp Capt J Cox, O.B.E, D.F.C

18 March 1952

Gp Capt G F A Skelton, O.B.E

19 March 1954

Wg Cdr J R H Lewis, D.F.C.

19 March 1954

Wg Cdr J R H Lewis, D.F.C.

4 June 1954

Wg Cdr A R H Innis, D.F.C.

May 1955 – May 1957

Care and Maintenance – Infrastructure enhancement


28 May 1957

Wg Cdr J B Grant, D.S.O, D.F.C.

12 June 1957

Gp Capt D D Haig, D.S.O, D.F.C.

28 September 1959

Gp Capt A W Heward O.B.E, D.F.C, A.F.C

29 December 1961

Gp Capt J Miller C.B.E., D.F.C., A.F.C., F.C.A.

4 November 1963

Gp Capt J A C Aiken

1 December 1964

Gp Capt J A G Jackson, C.B.E, D.F.C, A.F.C.

1 July 1967

Gp Capt T C Gledhill, A.F.C.


30 April 1968

Gp Capt T C Gledhill, A.F.C.

29 December 1969

Wg Cdr P G Hyson


6 May 1970

Gp Capt M E H Dawson, D.F.C. D.F.M.

18 June 1971

Gp Capt J F W Pembridge, A.F.C

15 December 1973

Gp Capt D F Miller, O.B.E. D.F.C

29 September 1975

Wg Cdr M.J-C Burton

9 January 1976

Gp Capt R G Ashford, M.B.E L.L.B.


16 December 1977

Gp Capt L W F Wheeler

24 August 1979

Gp Capt B Higgs

16 October 1981

Gp Capt A J McCreery, A.D.C.

14 October 1983

Gp Capt A C Tolhurst

27 September 1985

Gp Capt W McC Rae

2 October 1987

Gp Capt G R Pitchfork, M.B.E.

19 August 1989

Gp Capt D J Phillips, O.B.E

26 July 1991

Gp Capt A Ferguson

6 August 1993

Gp Capt D J G Wilby, A.F.C.

13 October 1995 to closure in November 1996

Wg Cdr M A Butler, B.A.

References[edit] Citations[edit]

^ Jefford 1988, p. 26. ^ a b c Jefford 1988, p. 54. ^ Jefford 1988, p. 48. ^ a b c Halpenny 1982, p. 79. ^ Jefford 1988, p. 55. ^ Jefford 1988, p. 53. ^ Halpenny 1982, p. 80. ^ Halpenny 1982, p. 81. ^ Halpenny 1982, p. 85. ^ Halpenny 1982, pp. 77–87. ^ a b Jefford 1988, p. 30. ^ March, Peter R. (1998). Brace by Wire to Fly-By-Wire – 80 Years of the Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force
1918–1998. RAF Fairford: Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund Enterprises. p. 158. ISBN 1-899808-06-X.  ^ Howles, Internet Solutions Services Limited - Lewis. "End of Flight - Vulcan To The Sky". www.vulcantothesky.org. Retrieved 12 December 2016.  ^ " Finningley
(Doncaster Finningley)". Airfields of Britain Conservation Trust. Retrieved 10 February 2016.  ^ Quarrie, Bruce (1987). Action stations 10; Supplemental and Index. Wellingborough, Northamptonshire: P. Stephens. p. 48. ISBN 0-85059-682-3.  ^ OTTER, Patrick (1998). Yorkshire Airfields in the Second World War. Newbury: Countryside Books. p. 127. ISBN 1-85306-542-0.  ^ "Masterplan 2030" (PDF). Peel. Peel Airports. Retrieved 1 June 2016. 


Halpenny, B, B. Action Stations: Military Airfields of Yorkshire v. 4.Patrick Stephens Ltd, 1982. ISBN 978-0850595321. Jefford, C.G, MBE,BA ,RAF (Retd). RAF Squadrons, a Comprehensive Record of the Movement and Equipment of all RAF Squadrons and their Antecedents since 1912. Shrewsbury, Shropshire, UK: Airlife Publishing, 1988. ISBN 1-84037-141-2.

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to RAF Finningley.

RAF Finningley
Veteran's web-site Finningley
Picture Gallery Report upon Meteor crash August 1952

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