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A military airfield opened in 1917 as a training base. The airfield closed after the First World War but was redeveloped between 1927 and 1932 as a permament Royal Air Force Station, with the addition of new hangars and domestic buildings. During the mid 1930s it became a centre for the expansion of the Royal Air Force "Bomber Force". During the Second World War it was used by both fighter and Bomber Squadrons. In the Battle of Britain (1940) the airfield was used as part of 10 Group Royal Air Force Fighter Command, forming a base for patrols intercepting enemy aircraft. However the main role of Boscombe Down was as an experimental station: it was the home of the Aeroplane & Armament Experimental Establishment, and also of the Blind Approach Training and Development Unit (the latter pioneering navigational aids). It was also a centre for test piloting and armaments testing: the base was involved in the preparation for the "Dam Buster" raid and also for other specialist bombs developed by Barnes Wallis codenamed "Grand Slam". From April 1944 jet aircraft were also tested at Boscombe Down. During the Cold War the base was used for classified defence projects and remains a military airfield concerned with Ministry of Defence Aviation research and trials, and is the home of the Defence Evaluaton and Research Agency (DERA). Due to redevelopment, demolition and maintenance at the base a number of archaeological features have been found at the base: please see event records for details.

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