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Donibristle

Major
Also known as: Dalgety Bay / Donibee / Donibristle Industrial Park / Hillend Industrial Park / HMS Merlin / RAF Donibristle / RFC Donibristle / RNAS Donibristle
County: Fife
Current Status: Housing / Industry
Date: February 1917 - 23 October 1959
Current Use: Disused
Used By: RAF / RFC / RNAS / FAA

Donibristle, on the north shore of the Firth of Forth near Dalgety Bay, began life in 1917 as a Home Defence landing ground for No 77 Squadron at Turnhouse. The site quickly became under control of the Royal Navy for the repair and storage of naval aircraft and this continued after the First World War as the Fleet Aircraft Repair Depot. This later became the Coastal Area Aircraft Depot (CAAD) and operated at Donibristle until the spring of 1922. 

After a short period of Care and Maintenance in the mid 1920s the airfield became active again with Hawker Horsley aircraft in a coastal defence role. More Horsleys of No 100 Squadron became prominent during 1930-33, while the Torpedo Training Flight (TTF) was formed in 1934 teaching both RAF and Fleet Air Arm personnel. This unit soon became No 22 Squadron and was equipped with Vickers Vildebeest torpedo bombers during its residence later on in the 1930s. Donibristle was put in the control of RAF Coastal Command in 1936 and was home to a few different units, such as No 16 Group Practice Flight between 1937 and 1938.

From May 1939 Donibristle was transferred to the Fleet Air Arm, becoming HMS Merlin. The site’s location close to the naval base at Rosyth made it an ideal airfield for use as an aircraft repair yard, as well as accommodating various other Fleet Air Arm units over the following twenty years. These included training and support units plus disembarked squadrons. The longest stay at Donibristle was by No 782 Squadron, a communications unit based there between 1940 and 1953. Most of the other units stayed at the airfield for far shorter periods of time as was normal with FAA bases. The two hard runways eventually built proved rather unusual in being fairly close together due to the limited area of land available.

The aircraft maintenance yard is said to have handled over 7,000 aircraft by the end of the Second World War and eventually closed in April 1959. From the late 1940s, other Navy personnel were gradually replaced by Airwork employees, a civilian company that provided a variety of defence support services.

Donibristle was closed and paid off on 23 October 1959 and most of the site has since had housing built on it. Some of the Second World War hangars are however among the buildings that remain and these are in use as part of the industrial parks.

 

The following organisations are either based at, use and/or have at least potentially significant connections with the airfield (as at 31/12/2016):

  • A.B. Prattis & Sons/Eurojet (Scotland) Ltd
  • Ace Motoring Services Ltd
  • Asda Dalgety Bay Superstore
  • BAE Systems
  • Bay Valeting
  • Castleblair Auctions
  • Dalgety Bay and Hillend Community Council
  • Dalgety Bay Business Centre
  • Dalgety Bay Recycling Centre
  • Discounted Office Supplies
  • Dynamic EMS Ltd
  • Farid Hillend Engineering Limited
  • Food 2 Go
  • GAP Dunfermline
  • HT Screenprint Services
  • Ingenico Group - Northern Europe Office
  • Matrix Fife
  • Merlin Network
  • Narvida Ltd
  • Normand & Thomson (Hillend) Ltd
  • Ocean Wheels
  • Payzone
  • Peony Inn - Chinese restaurant
  • R.A. Auto Services
  • Rainbow Nursery
  • Rolls-Royce Dunfermline Site
  • Sashes Venue Styling
  • Sign Plus Ltd
  • SIPS Industries Ltd
  • T.M. Simpson Tractor Service
  • The Drum Garage
  • Unique Flooring Fife
  • Westgarth Auto Services
  • Young Joinery
  • Zenith Events

Main unit(s) present:

  • No 2 AACU 'D' Flight

  • No 16 Gp Practice Flight

  • No 18 (Reconnaissance) Group

  • No 22 Sqn

  • No 29 (Fleet) Group

  • No 36 Sqn

  • No 42 Sqn

  • No 77 Sqn

  • No 100 Sqn

  • No 700 Sqn

  • No 701 Sqn

  • No 739 Sqn

  • No 758 Sqn

  • No 767 Sqn

  • No 769 Sqn

  • No 770 Sqn

  • No 771 Sqn

  • No 780 Sqn

  • No 782 Sqn

  • No 784 Sqn

  • No 800 Sqn

  • No 801 Sqn

  • No 802 Sqn

  • No 803 Sqn

  • No 804 Sqn

  • No 805 Sqn

  • No 806 Sqn

  • No 807 Sqn

  • No 808 Sqn

  • No 810 Sqn

  • No 811 Sqn

  • No 812 Sqn

  • No 813 Sqn

  • No 814 Sqn

  • No 816 Sqn

  • No 817 Sqn

  • No 819 Sqn

  • No 820 Sqn

  • No 821 Sqn

  • No 822 Sqn

  • No 823 Sqn

  • No 824 Sqn

  • No 825 Sqn

  • No 827 Sqn

  • No 828 Sqn

  • No 830 Sqn

  • No 860 Sqn

  • No 881 Sqn

  • No 882 Sqn

  • No 884 Sqn

  • No 886 Sqn

  • No 888 Sqn

  • No 890 Sqn

  • No 891 Sqn

  • No 892 Sqn

  • No 893 Sqn

  • No 1770 Sqn

  • No 1820 Sqn

  • No 1830 Sqn

  • No 1830A Sqn

  • No 1841 Sqn

  • No 1842 Sqn

  • Aircraft Repair Depot

  • Coastal Area Aircraft Depot

  • Fleet Aircraft Acceptance Depot

  • Fleet Aircraft Repair Depot

  • Northern Comms Sqn

  • Torpedo Training Flight

DP_075830.jpg

Aerial view of Donibristle, taken from the south-east, 10 March 2010© Crown Copyright: Historic Environment Scotland. Licensor canmore.org.uk

DP_075831.jpg

Aerial view of Donibristle, taken from the east, 10 March 2010© Crown Copyright: Historic Environment Scotland. Licensor canmore.org.uk

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Plan of Donibristle, c. 1940s. © Royal Navy Research Archive. Click here for more information.

Satellite(s):

CampbeltownDremEvantonFearn

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