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MARTLESHAM HEATH AIRFIELD

ALTERNATIVE NAME:  USAAF STATION 369, RAF MARTLESHAM
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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.

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