LEUCHARS STATION is a
British Army installation located in
Fife , on the east coast of
Scotland , near to the university town of
St Andrews .
Formerly RAF LEUCHARS (IATA : ADX, ICAO : EGQL), it was the second
most northerly air defence station in the
United Kingdom (The most
RAF Lossiemouth ). The Station ceased to be an RAF
Station at 1200 hrs on 31 March 2015 when control of the site was
transferred to the Army.
* 1 History
* 1.1 First World War
* 1.2 Inter-war years
Second World War
* 1.5 Post
* 1.6 Station Transition
* 2 Structure and units
* 2.2 Royal Air Force
* 3 Annual Airshow
* 4 Transfer to the Army
* 5 See also
* 6 References
* 7 External links
FIRST WORLD WAR
Leuchars dates back to 1911 with a balloon squadron of
Royal Engineers setting up a training camp in
Tentsmuir Forest .
They were soon joined in the skies by the 'string and sealing wax'
aircraft of the embryonic
Royal Flying Corps ; such aircraft favoured
the sands of
St Andrews , where not the least of the attractions was
the availability of fuel from local garages.
Like so many RAF stations, the airfield itself owes its existence to
the stimulus of war, and work began on levelling the existing site on
Reres Farm in 1916. From the beginning,
Leuchars was intended as a
training unit, being termed a 'Temporary Mobilisation Station' taking
aircrew from initial flying training through to fleet co-operation
work. Building was still underway when the Armistice was signed in
1918. Most was made of Leuchars' maritime location when it was
designated a Naval Fleet Training School, eventually to undertake the
training of 'naval spotting' crews who acted as eyes for the Royal
Navy's capital ships.
The unit was formally named 'Royal Air Force Leuchars' on 16 March
1920, but nevertheless retained its strong naval links.
As the Navy embraced the value of aviation, the aircraft carrier was
added to its inventory. Many of the flights dedicated to
detached to such vessels for months at a time, with light and dark
blue uniforms apparently mixing happily together. At St Andrews, the
citizens were not unaware of the potential uses of aviation and
attempts were made to use aircraft as a means of transport for golfing
enthusiasts. More successful were the barn-storming displays of the
flying circuses which were extremely popular in the town.
Leuchars became home to No. 1 Flying Training School (1 FTS)
and ranges for practice bombing were established in
Tentsmuir Forest .
As the war clouds gathered, its maritime position ensured that
Leuchars would come to play a more warlike role. 1 FTS moved to RAF
Netheravon and the Station came under the control of
Coastal Command .
With the arrival of 224 and 233 Squadrons in August 1938 the Station
had an operational, rather than training, role for the first time.
SECOND WORLD WAR
On 4 September 1939, a
Lockheed Hudson of No. 224 Squadron RAF
Dornier Do 18 over the North Sea with inconclusive results
but became the first British aircraft to engage the enemy in the
Second World War .
Leuchars was not to secure the romantic image of a
Battle of Britain station, but rather settled to the routine of hour
upon hour of maritime patrol which played a crucial part in Britain's
ultimate victory. In February 1940, another 224 Squadron Lockheed
Hudson located the German prison ship the Altmark which allowed for
its interception by HMS Cossack and the liberation of over 200 British
prisoners. On 2 December 1943, a pigeon called Winkie became one of
the first birds or animals to be awarded the
Dickin Medal for helping
rescue the crew of a ditched bomber from the station.
During Second World War, British Overseas Airways Corporation formed
in November 1939 from Imperial Airways and British Airways Ltd
operated a wartime route from RAF
Leuchars to Stockholm. From 1943
BOAC used civilian registered Mosquito aircraft. Noted for the
carrying of ball-bearings from Sweden to the UK, the route also
returned RAF aircrew that had diverted to or made crash landings in
Swedish airfields during operations over Europe. Other aircraft types
Leuchars remained an active Station to the end of the War,
concentrating on anti-submarine and anti-shipping strikes. With the
contraction of the Air Force in peacetime, life at
to a more gentle pace, hosting a school for general reconnaissance and
St Andrews University Air Squadron complete with de Havilland
Tiger Moth . In May 1950
Leuchars entered the jet age as it passed
from Coastal to
RAF Fighter Command and
Gloster Meteor of 222 Squadron
made the Station their new home.
In 1954 the fixed wing aircraft had been joined by a flight of
Bristol Sycamore helicopters for Search and Rescue duties. From the
beginning, the flight proved a valuable adjunct to the civilian
mountain and maritime rescue services, a role which continues to this
day. There were also two rescue launches based in
The next generation of jets to be stationed at
Leuchars were the
Hawker Hunter and the
Gloster Javelin , with air-sea rescue services
provided by Westland Whirlwind helicopters. The University Air
Squadron was equipped with the de Havilland Chipmunk .
Cold War reached its frostiest depths in the 1960s the
development of long range aircraft allowed the Soviets regular
incursion into British air space. Initially this was countered by the
English Electric Lightning and, from 1969, McDonnell Douglas
Phantom II aircraft. Again Leuchars' position made it ideally suited
as a base to ensure the integrity of British air space.
also the home in the 1970s for a Fleet Air Arm squadron (892 Naval Air
Squadron ) when disembarked from their carrier HMS Ark Royal , also
operating Phantoms. For over two decades Leuchars' aircraft have
policed the UK air defence region, demonstrating the ability to
intercept unidentified aircraft and thereby providing an effective
deterrent. During the 1980s, RAF
Leuchars was home to 27 Sqn RAF
Regiment which was a Short Range Air Defence (SHORAD) based Squadron,
using Field Standard A Rapier Missile system.
Throughout the cold war, Search and Rescue was an enduring presence,
and Whirlwind and Wessex aircraft were stationed at RAF Leuchars
throughout the 1960s to early 1990's.
POST COLD WAR
Tornado F3 on standby in hangar
The Phantoms of 43 Squadron and 111 Squadron were replaced by Panavia
Tornado F.3s during 1986-1990s. April 2003 saw the Tornado F.3
Operational Conversion Unit (OCU), 56 (Reserve) Squadron , move to RAF
Leuchars. In April 2008, 56(R) Squadron amalgamated with 43 Squadron,
retaining the identity of the latter until it was disbanded in July
In September 2010,
No. 6 Squadron RAF was the first squadron at RAF
Leuchars to be reformed operating the
Eurofighter Typhoon ; Typhoons
from the squadron performed a QRA scramble on Sunday 2 January 2011. 6
Squadron took over QRA duties when the last of the Tornado F.3s were
retired. The second Typhoon squadron, 1(F)Squadron, was reformed at
the 2012 RAF
Leuchars Airshow on 15 September 2012.
Leuchars had a long history of defending sovereign UK airspace over
many decades stretching back to Meteor aircraft and finally with the
Typhoon. Iconic aircraft such as the
English Electric Lightning and
McDonald Douglas Phantom were prevalent over many years.
home to the last squadron of
Panavia Tornado F3s , No. 111 Squadron .
111 Sqn operated the
Quick Reaction Alert
Quick Reaction Alert ( QRA ) which was set up
primarily to combat threats from Soviet attacks during the
Cold War .
The unit was disbanded in March 2011.
The station was formerly home to No. 125 Expeditionary Air Wing , but
it is still the home of the East of
Scotland Universities Air Squadron
(ESUAS) and XII
Air Experience Flight (12 AEF), who both use a fleet
of seven Tutor T.1's. No 125 Expeditionary Air Wing (EAW) was formed
Leuchars on 1 April 2006. The wing encompasses most of the
non-formed unit personnel and does not include the flying units based
at the station. The station commander was dual-hatted as the commander
of the wing.
Leuchars is also the base for No. 612 (County of Aberdeen) Squadron ,
Royal Auxiliary Air Force (an air-transportable surgical squadron),
and was formerly a host to an RAF Mountain Rescue Unit. Leuchars
frequently hosts local
Air Training Corps units. Until 1 January 2015
it was also the parent station to several remote units in the central
Scotland area, including Universities of Glasgow and Strathclyde Air
Squadron , 602 Squadron Royal Auxiliary Air Force, 603 Squadron Royal
Auxiliary Air Force and many
Air Training Corps squadrons.
RAF Lossiemouth in
Moray , and
RAF Coningsby in
Lincolnshire , are
now the sole operating bases and custodians for QRA(I) North & South
Eurofighter Typhoon FGR4 .
Panavia Tornado F3 Squadron, No. 56 (Reserve) Squadron , was
disbanded in April 2008 in preparation for the arrival of the
Eurofighter Typhoon , in 2010. Members of No 56 Squadron had
temporarily joined No. 43 Squadron until it too was disbanded in July
2009. Following the departure of the two Typhoon Squadrons, 6 Sqn in
June 2014, and 1(F) Sqn in Sep 14, RAF
Leuchars merged the traditional
Tri-Wing structure of Base, Engineering and Logistics and Operations
Wings into a single Wing structure.
Quick Reaction Alert
Quick Reaction Alert duties were moved to
RAF Lossiemouth in
September 2014, and whilst the Station finished transitioning to Army
Leuchars was placed under the command of Wing Commander N
J Clayton when Air Commodore G M Mayhew, Air Officer
Commanding Officer RAF
Leuchars was posted. The army established an
Army Basing Team that worked closely with the remaining RAF staffs and
other key stakeholders to transition the site to Army control.
STRUCTURE AND UNITS
* ROYAL ENGINEERS (8 ENGINEER BRIGADE , 12 (FORCE SUPPORT) ENGINEER
* 71 Engineer Regiment (Air Support) (Army Reserve )
* Regimental Headquarters
* 2 Troop
* ROYAL ELECTRICAL AND MECHANICAL ENGINEERS (101 LOGISTICS BRIGADE )
* 2 Close Support Battalion
* Battalion Headquarters
* 7 Close Support Company
* 11 Close Support Company
* ROYAL ARMOURED CORPS (51 INFANTRY BRIGADE )
Royal Scots Dragoon Guards
* ADJUTANT GENERAL\\'S CORPS (1 MILITARY POLICE BRIGADE , 1 REGIMENT
ROYAL MILITARY POLICE )
* 110 Provost Company
ROYAL AIR FORCE
* RAF Airfield Operations
* NO. 22 GROUP (TRAINING) RAF
* East of
Scotland Universities Air Squadron -
Grob Tutor T1
* No. 12
Air Experience Flight -
Grob Tutor T1
Air Training Corps
Scotland "> Supermarine Spitfire FR Mk.XVIIIe SM845 at the RAF
Leuchars airshow in 2008
Leuchars was home to the annual
Leuchars Airshow which originated
many decades before. This usually took place on a Saturday in
September. The 2007
Leuchars Airshow was cancelled due to resurfacing
of the runway.
Approximately 45,000 people attended the 2010 show to see displays
Red Arrows ,
Eurofighter Typhoon , and Battle of Britain
Memorial Flight . Air forces from many
NATO countries provided
additional static and flight displays.
The final airshow was held on 8 September 2013 and c45,000 people
were on site.
TRANSFER TO THE ARMY
Spectators watch an E-3D Sentry at the
Leuchars Airshow of 2012
On 18 July 2011 Defence Secretary
Liam Fox announced that RAF
Leuchars would close, whilst
RAF Lossiemouth in
Moray would be spared
as part of the Strategic Defence and Security Review . The recently
formed Typhoon force, which was stood up in March 2011, moved to RAF
Lossiemouth in Summer 2014 with the Army expected to take up
residence in 2015 onwards.
Several lodger units on the Station continue to receive support from
their respective parented stations/HQ after the transition from RAF to
Army command. These include No. 612 (County of Aberdeen) Squadron
RAuxAF, the East of
Scotland Universities Air Squadron incorporating
Air Experience Flight , and the Headquarters of
Northern Ireland Region and South East
Scotland Wing of the Air
Training Corps . There is still an RAF presence, with a runway used
for diverted aircraft.
The former lodger units of 58 Squadron RAF Regiment and 6 Force
Protection Wing disbanded on 10 May 2014. Similarly the RAF Leuchars
Mountain Rescue Team disbanded in Nov 2013.
The Army took control of the station on 1 April 2015 and it was
Leuchars Station. The
Royal Scots Dragoon Guards gradually
relocated from Germany in the spring and summer of 2015 along with 2
REME and 110 Provost Company . The new station will be at
full manning capacity in the Summer of 2016 when the Royal Scots
Dragoon Guards return from operational training in
Canada . A news
report from the Courier stated that 2 CS
REME would be moved from
Leuchars to Yorkshire under Army 2020 Refine plans.
List of former Royal Air Force stations
* ^ "Quick Reaction Alert". RAF 2004 (PDF) (Report). Royal Air
Force. 2004. pp. 38–43. Retrieved 3 August 2015.
* ^ "No 43 (Fighter) Squadron Disbanded". raf.mod.uk. 13 July 2009.
Archived from the original on 15 October 2012. Retrieved 9 September
* ^ "Typhoon Force Grows as Historic Squadron Reforms at Leuchars".
raf.mod.uk. 15 September 2012. Retrieved 9 September 2014.
* ^ "71 Engineer Regiment". British Army. Retrieved 23 May 2017.
* ^ "2 Close Support Battalion". British Army. Retrieved 23 May
* ^ "The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards". British Army. Retrieved 23
* ^ "Army battalion to leave
Leuchars base". Evening Telegraph. 22
December 2016. Retrieved 23 May 2017.
* ^ A B "Units at Leuchars".
Leuchars Station Open Day - 3 June
2017. Retrieved 23 May 2017.
* ^ "
ESUAS Squadron Life". Royal Air Force. Retrieved 23 May 2017.
* ^ "Who is Based Here?". RAF Leuchars. Retrieved 23 May 2017.
* ^ "612 Squadron (County of Aberdeen)". Royal Air Force. Retrieved
23 May 2017.
* ^ Dickie, Andrew (13 September 2008). "RAF
Leuchars Airshow 2008
Review". UK Airshow Review. Retrieved 9 September 2014.
* ^ "Airshow 2006".
The Courier (Dundee)
The Courier (Dundee) .
DC Thomson . 11
* ^ "Last RAF
Leuchars Airshow takes to skies". BBC News. 7
September 2013. Retrieved 9 September 2014.
* ^ "RAF to pull out of
RAF Lossiemouth stays". BBC
News. 18 July 2011. Retrieved 18 July 2011.
* ^ "First Typhoons land at Lossiemouth". Press and Journal . 12
June 2014. Retrieved 9 September 2014. (Subscription required (help)).
Air Forces Monthly
Air Forces Monthly . Stamford ,
England : Key
Publishing Ltd . April 2013. p. 8.
* ^ "
Leuchars Station - HL4058". Hansard. 13 December 2016.
Retrieved 22 December 2016.
* ^ "Disbandment Parade of 6 RAF Force Protection Wing and 58 Sqn
RAF Regiment". rafregt.org.uk. 10 May 2014. Retrieved 9 September
* ^ Maureen Ferrier Email (2015-03-31). "Army now in charge at
Fife Today. Retrieved 2017-06-25.
* ^ "
Leuchars residents welcome rebasing news". British Forces News
British Forces Broadcasting Service ). Archived from the original on
17 March 2013. Retrieved 6 March 2013.
* ^ "Battalion to leave
Leuchars for Yorkshire under MoD plans".
The Courier. 18 December 2016. Retrieved 22 December 2016.