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RAF BENSON

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A military airfield, which was opened in 1939 and is currently (2003) still in use as a Royal Air Force base. Work was begun on the airfield in 1937. When it was completed in 1939, it was used by 150 and 103 Squadrons flying Fairey Battle aircraft. In September 1939 these were joined by the Kings Flight. During the Second World War the base wase initially used by 12 Operational Training Unit, flying Fairey Battle and Avro Anson (later Wellington) aircraft in a training role. In 1941 Benson developed an imortant new role with the establishment of The Photographic Reconnaissance Unit (PRU) there. These used first Spitfires then Mosquitos in an intelligence gathering role. In 1944 and 1945 they were also use to ferry diplomatic mail including to Moscow, Yalta and to Potsdam. By 1942 new developments meant that base and its runways had to be updated. By 1944 The base was equipped with two 2000 yard concrete runways, four type C hangars, 4 "over-size" type blister hangars and 14 "extra-over size" type blister hangars. There was permanent accomodation for some of the 3198 personnel present in December 1944. In the immediate post war period Benson was used by Number 58 Squadron and 54 Group headquarters Flying Training Command. From 1953 to 1976 the base was mainly used by Transport Command, between 1953-1960 by the Ferry Wing, ferrying aircraft to various locations across the world. When the Ferry Wing was disbanded in 1960, Benson was used by the Medium Range Tactical Air Transport Force, as well as The Queen's Flight. In 1972 the base was modernised. In 1977 a number of training and support units moved in to replace the previous transport units that had left. In 1992 there was a further change in role as 60 Squadron flying Wessex helicopters were based there. They were joined by the University Air Squadrons of Oxford and London universities, number 6 Air Experience Flight, the Mobile Catering Support Unit and 3 Air Combat Support Unit.

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