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Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force
Leuchars
Leuchars
or RAF Leuchars
Leuchars
(IATA: ADX, ICAO: EGQL) was a Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force
station located in Leuchars, Fife, on the east coast of Scotland. Throughout the Cold War
Cold War
and beyond, the station was home to fighter aircraft which policed northern UK airspace.The station ceased to be an RAF station at 1200 hrs on 31 March 2015 when it became Leuchars
Leuchars
Station and control of the site was transferred to the British Army.

Contents

1 History

1.1 First World War 1.2 Inter-war years 1.3 Second World War 1.4 Cold War 1.5 Post-Cold War

2 Closure

2.1 RAF drawdown 2.2 Transfer to British Army

3 International Airshow 4 See also 5 References

History[edit] First World War[edit] Aviation at Leuchars
Leuchars
dates back to 1911 with a balloon squadron of the Royal Engineers
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
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 under way when the Armistice was signed in 1918. Much 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. Inter-war years[edit] The unit was formally named ' Royal Air Force
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 Leuchars
Leuchars
were 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. In 1935, Leuchars
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
Leuchars
would come to play a more warlike role. 1 FTS moved to RAF Netheravon
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[edit]

Armourers secure 250lb bombs in the bomb-bay of a Lockheed Hudson
Lockheed Hudson
of No. 224 Squadron at Leuchars.

On 4 September 1939, a Lockheed Hudson
Lockheed Hudson
of No. 224 Squadron RAF attacked a Dornier Do 18
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
Leuchars
was not to secure the romantic image of a Battle of Britain
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
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
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 who had diverted to or made crash-landings in Swedish airfields during operations over Europe. Other aircraft types were used. Cold War[edit]

A No. 43 Squadron McDonnell Douglas F-4K Phantom FG.1, an aircraft closely associated with RAF Leuchars.

Leuchars
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 Leuchars
Leuchars
returned to a more gentle pace, hosting a school for general reconnaissance and the St Andrews
St Andrews
University Air Squadron complete with de Havilland Tiger Moth. In May 1950 Leuchars
Leuchars
entered the jet age as it passed from Coastal to RAF Fighter Command
RAF Fighter Command
and Gloster Meteor
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
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 Tayport. The next generation of jets to be stationed at Leuchars were the Hawker Hunter
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. As the 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 use of 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. Leuchars
Leuchars
was 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
Leuchars
was home to 27 Sqn RAF Regiment
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
Leuchars
throughout the 1960s to early 1990s. Post-Cold War[edit]

Panavia Tornado
Panavia Tornado
F3 of No. 43 Squadron, seen in 1993.

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.[2] In April 2008, 56(R) Squadron amalgamated with 43 Squadron, retaining the identity of the latter until it was disbanded in July 2009.[3] In September 2010, No. 6 Squadron RAF
No. 6 Squadron RAF
was the first squadron at RAF Leuchars
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
Leuchars
Airshow on 15 September 2012.[4] Leuchars
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
English Electric Lightning
and McDonald Douglas Phantom were prevalent over many years. Leuchars
Leuchars
was home to the last squadron of Panavia Tornado
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.

A No. 6 Squadron Eurofighter Typhoon
Eurofighter Typhoon
FGR4 taking off from Leuchars
Leuchars
in 2013.

The station was formerly home to No. 125 Expeditionary Air Wing, but it is still the home of the East of Scotland
Scotland
Universities Air Squadron (ESUAS) and XII Air Experience Flight
Air Experience Flight
(12 AEF), who both use a fleet of seven Tutor T.1's. No 125 Expeditionary Air Wing (EAW) was formed at Leuchars
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
Leuchars
is also the base for No. 612 (County of Aberdeen) Squadron, Royal Auxiliary Air Force
Royal Auxiliary Air Force
(an air-transportable surgical squadron), and was formerly a host to an RAF Mountain Rescue Unit. Leuchars
Leuchars
frequently hosts local Air Training Corps
Air Training Corps
units. Until 1 January 2015 it was also the parent station to several remote units in the central Scotland
Scotland
area, including Universities of Glasgow and Strathclyde Air Squadron, 602 Squadron Royal Auxiliary Air Force, 603 Squadron Royal Auxiliary Air Force
Royal Auxiliary Air Force
and many Air Training Corps squadrons. RAF Lossiemouth
RAF Lossiemouth
in Moray, and RAF Coningsby
RAF Coningsby
in Lincolnshire, are now the sole operating bases and custodians for QRA(I) North & South flying the Eurofighter Typhoon
Eurofighter Typhoon
FGR4. A third Panavia Tornado
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
Leuchars
merged the traditional Tri-Wing structure of Base, Engineering and Logistics and Operations Wings into a single Wing structure. Closure[edit] RAF drawdown[edit] On 18 July 2011, Defence Secretary Liam Fox
Liam Fox
announced that RAF Leuchars
Leuchars
would close as part of the Strategic Defence and Security Review 2010, with the station being transferred to British Army control in 2015 and Leuchar's Typhoons moving to RAF Lossiemouth
RAF Lossiemouth
in Morayshire.[5] In preparation for the closure, RAF Leuchars
Leuchars
Mountain Rescue Team disbanded in Nov 2013 whilst No. 58 Squadron of the RAF Regiment
RAF Regiment
and No. 6 Force Protection Wing disbanded on 10 May 2014.[6] No. 6 Squadron was the first Typhoon unit to depart Leuchars, heading for its new home at RAF Lossiemouth
RAF Lossiemouth
in June 2014.[7][8] No. 1 Squadron followed on 8 September 2014, at which point responsibility for Quick Reaction Alert (North) was transferred from Leuchars
Leuchars
to Lossiemouth.[9] Transfer to British Army[edit] Main article: Leuchars
Leuchars
Station Control of Leuchars
Leuchars
was transferred to the British Army
British Army
on 1 April 2015, when it was renamed Leuchars
Leuchars
Station.[10] The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards gradually relocated from Germany in the spring and summer of 2015 along with 2 Close Support Battalion of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers and 110 Provost Company.[11] The airfield is maintained as a relief landing ground for aircraft based at RAF Lossiemouth
RAF Lossiemouth
and other aircraft.[12] The station continues to be home to several RAF units, including No. 612 (County of Aberdeen) Squadron RAuxAF, the East of Scotland
Scotland
Universities Air Squadron incorporating No. 12 Air Experience Flight, and the headquarters of Scotland
Scotland
and Northern Ireland Region and South East Scotland
Scotland
Wing of the Air Training Corps. International Airshow[edit] RAF Leuchars
Leuchars
was home to the annual Leuchars
Leuchars
Airshow which originated many decades before. This usually took place on a Saturday in September. The 2007 Leuchars
Leuchars
Airshow was cancelled due to resurfacing of the runway.[13] Approximately 45,000 people attended the 2010 show to see displays including the Red Arrows, Eurofighter
Eurofighter
Typhoon, and Battle of Britain
Battle of Britain
Memorial Flight. Air forces from many NATO
NATO
countries provided additional static and flight displays.[14] The final airshow was held on 8 September 2013 and circa 45,000 people were on site.[15] See also[edit]

List of former Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force
stations

References[edit]

^ "Defence Estates Development Plan (DEDP) 2009 - Annex A" (PDF). GOV.UK. Ministry of Defence. 3 July 2009. p. 2. Retrieved 19 November 2017.  ^ "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 2014.  ^ "Typhoon Force Grows as Historic Squadron Reforms at Leuchars". raf.mod.uk. 15 September 2012. Retrieved 9 September 2014.  ^ "RAF to pull out of Leuchars
Leuchars
as RAF Lossiemouth
RAF Lossiemouth
stays". BBC News. 18 July 2011. Retrieved 18 July 2011.  ^ "Disbandment Parade of 6 RAF Force Protection Wing and 58 Sqn RAF Regiment". rafregt.org.uk. 10 May 2014. Archived from the original on 10 September 2014. Retrieved 9 September 2014.  ^ "First Typhoons land at Lossiemouth". Press and Journal. 12 June 2014. Retrieved 9 September 2014. (Subscription required (help)).  ^ Air Forces Monthly. Stamford, Lincolnshire, England: Key Publishing Ltd. April 2013. p. 8.  ^ "Typhoon aircraft relocate to RAF Lossiemouth". GOV.UK. Ministry of Defence. 20 June 2014. Retrieved 16 September 2015.  ^ Maureen Ferrier Email (2015-03-31). "Army now in charge at Leuchars". Fife
Fife
Today. Retrieved 2017-06-25.  ^ " Leuchars
Leuchars
residents welcome rebasing news". British Forces News (British Forces Broadcasting Service). Archived from the original on 17 March 2013. Retrieved 6 March 2013.  ^ " Leuchars
Leuchars
Station - HL4058". Hansard. 13 December 2016. Retrieved 22 December 2016.  ^ Dickie, Andrew (13 September 2008). "RAF Leuchars
Leuchars
Airshow 2008 Review". UK Airshow Review. Retrieved 9 September 2014.  ^ "Airshow 2006". The Courier (Dundee). DC Thomson. 11 September 2006. Archived from the original on 27 May 2007.  ^ "Last RAF Leuchars
Leuchars
Airshow takes to skies". BBC News. 7 September 2013. Retrieved 9 Sep

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