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A military airfield, originally opened in 1916 as a RNAS base (HMS Daedalus). In 1929-1933 the airfield became an important RAF training college; Royal Air Force College Cranwell, which is the Royal Air Force's equivalent of Sandhurst.
The First World War airfield had been first used by the Royal Naval Air Service, for fixed wing and airships. It had hutted accommodation at West Camp. In 1918 a Training Depot Station for the Royal Flying Corps as well as a Radio Training School were established at the site. The training college was built between 1929 and 1933 (for details see TF 04 NW 39 and TF 04 NW 40). The cadet training college was intended as a self contained site situated north of the B1429 road. New domestic buildings replaced the old hutting at West Camp in 1933-1934 (for the extant examples of this phase see SK 94 NE 30, SK 94NE 31 and TF 04 NW 41). The airfield and its buildings are considered to have been well planned and designed to a high standard, in response to the recommendations of the Royal Fine Art Commission made in 1932.

The airfield has two flying fields, one near the college to the north of the B1429 road (Cranwell North), and another to the south of the road (Cranewell South). During the Second World War the airfield to the north had grass landing surfaces, whilst the south landing strips were a mixture of grass with some asphalt. There were two Type C, four Bellman and five Blister aircraft hangars. Accommodation was located mainly on the north site. The wartime Radio School was located on the south site. In the course of the war the base was used by a number of training units and also functioned as a supplies depot. By December 1944 there were 10,766 personnel stationed at the base. Post -war the training function continued. The south flying field was updated in 1954 with concrete runways and apron to allow use by Meteor and Vampire jet aircraft. New technical and domestic buildings were constructed between 1960 and 1964.

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