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LONDON SOUTHEND AIRPORT

ALTERNATIVE NAME:  RAF ROCHFORD, SOUTHEND MUNICIPAL AIRPORT, RAF SOUTHEND
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A civil airport, which had phases of use as a military airfield in both World Wars. The site opened as a military airfield for the Royal Flying Corps in 1916. It was used during World War One for training airmen and to attempt to intercept German raids on London. In 1919 the airfield was decommissioned and the site reverted to farmland. It reopened in 1935 as a civil airport. In 1939 the airport was once more used as a military airfield, known as RAF Rochford, mainly for fighter units of various nationalities. It was used by 11 Group of the Royal Air Force during the Battle of Britain: this group was the most heavily engaged in that battle. The airfield was still grass surfaced, and was equipped with a mixture of Bellman and Blister aircraft hangars. The airfield was protected by three Pickett Hamilton forts, (a special type of retractable pillbox) one of which survived in 1989 In 1944 it was also for armament practice and as a barrage balloon centre. After World War Two, it was again a civil airport. In 1955-1956 two hard runways were added. In 1995 there was a major programme of refurbishment at the airport, som airport buildings were demolished, and others rennovated. In the early years of the 21st century there are plans to expand the airport.

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