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Fairwood Common (Swansea)

Major

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In more recent years it has been facetiously suggested that Swansea's aerial gateway would be renamed as Catherine Zeta Jones Airport.

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Also known as: Fairwood / RAF Fairwood Common / Swansea Airport
County: Swansea
Current Status: Aviation
Date: Opened June 1941
Current Use: Active
Used By: RAF / RAF (Czech) / RAF (Dutch) / RAF (French) / RAF (Norwegian) / RAF (Polish) / Civil / RAAF / RCAF / RNZAF
Landing Surface Types: Paved

Fairwood Common, now known as Swansea Airport, opened on 15 June 1941 and was quickly home to No 10 Group of Fighter Command. Hawker Hurricanes from No 79 Squadron were the first to move in and within a few months the airfield became a Sector station. Aircraft from Fairwood Common provided aerial cover for the south of Wales and part of the south-west of England by both day and night. Bristol Beaufighters of No 600 Squadron were briefly here as well in June, replaced quickly by Hurricanes of No 317 Squadron, and yet more of No 504 Squadron soon joined. These units were among many to fly from Fairwood Common that supported raids over Europe.

No 125 Squadron became a relatively rare long-term resident and one of the most significant units that flew from Fairwood Common. It operated Boulton Paul Defiant night fighters initially before switching to Beaufighters in the early months of 1942. This unit made contact with a number of Luftwaffe aircraft during its stay from September 1941 to April 1943, with breaks elsewhere during this period. No 11 Armament Practice Camp (APC) was established at Fairwood Common in October 1943, joined by No 18 APC from August 1944. Both units merged in July 1945 to become No 1 Armament Practice Station which stayed until the spring of 1946. A large number of different aircraft types therefore passed through the airfield. Around 40 squadrons visited for firing practice between 1943 and 1946.

The wartime airfield was equipped with three runways. Three Bellman and eight Blister hangars were originally built with further improvements being made throughout the war.

Fairwood Common was then left largely inactive from the late 1940s and facing an uncertain future, although the Swansea and District Flying School and Club used the airfield from 1949. It was not until 1957 that the airfield officially opened as Swansea Airport. Cambrian Airways operated scheduled flights to Jersey and Guernsey and Morton Air Services operated a service to London Gatwick. However, all scheduled flights ceased from 1969 and limited private flying and charter flights were the only activity the airfield saw during the 1970s and 1980s.

HeliAir Wales moved to Fairwood Common in the 1990s, providing helicopter training, and in 2000 entrepreneur Martin Morgan purchased the airfield. Plans were made to upgrade the airport's facilities. Air Wales' owner Roy Thomas then took over Swansea Airport in 2003 with Air Wales basing their headquarters there. The airline offered a number of short haul flights to locations such as Amsterdam, Dublin and London. However, demand did not reach the required level and Air Wales soon left to focus on their operations at Cardiff Airport. Fairwood Common does however continue to be active as of 2016 and is open for general aviation and charter flights.

 

The following organisations are either based at, use and/or have at least potentially significant connections with the airfield (as at 01/07/2013):
  • Ilston Community Council
  • Pennard Community Council
  • Skydive Swansea

Notable Past Associated Organisations:

  • Half-Litre Car Club
  • Swansea & District Radio Controlled Club
  • Swansea Motor Club
  • Welsh Motor Club

 

ABCT would like to thank the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales for the use of their images. Find out more here: www.rcahmw.gov.uk and search their database here: www.coflein.gov.uk.

Main unit(s) present: 

  • No 1 APS
  • No 2 Fighter Command Servicing Unit
  • No 11 APC
  • No 18 APC
  • No 19 Sqn
  • No 33 Sqn
  • No 41 Sqn
  • No 65 Sqn
  • No 66 Sqn
  • No 68 Sqn
  • No 70 GS
  • No 74 Sqn
  • No 79 Sqn
  • No 91 Sqn
  • No 118 Sqn
  • No 124 Sqn
  • No 125 Sqn
  • No 127 Sqn
  • No 131 Sqn
  • No 132 Sqn
  • No 164 Sqn
  • No 165 Sqn
  • No 183 Sqn
  • No 193 Sqn
  • No 197 Sqn
  • No 198 Sqn
  • No 222 Sqn
  • No 257 Sqn
  • No 263 Sqn
  • No 264 Sqn
  • No 266 Sqn
  • No 268 Sqn
  • No 276 Sqn
  • No 285 Sqn
  • No 286 Sqn
  • No 288 Sqn
  • No 302 Sqn
  • No 303 Sqn
  • No 306 Sqn
  • No 307 Sqn
  • No 308 Sqn
  • No 312 Sqn
  • No 315 Sqn
  • No 316 Sqn
  • No 317 Sqn
  • No 322 Sqn
  • No 329 Sqn
  • No 331 Sqn
  • No 332 Sqn
  • No 345 Sqn
  • No 401 Sqn
  • No 402 Sqn
  • No 403 Sqn
  • No 411 Sqn
  • No 412 Sqn
  • No 421 Sqn
  • No 456 Sqn
  • No 485 Sqn
  • No 504 Sqn
  • No 536 Sqn
  • No 577 Sqn
  • No 595 Sqn
  • No 600 Sqn
  • No 609 Sqn
  • No 610 Sqn
  • No 615 Sqn
  • No 616 Sqn
  • No 634 GS
  • No 636 GS
  • No 636 VGS
  • No 691 Sqn
  • No 1487 (Fighter) Gunnery Flight
  • No 1487 (TT) Flight
  • No 1498 (TT) Flight
  • No 2722 Sqn RAF Regiment
  • No 2786 Sqn RAF Regiment
  • No 2790 Sqn RAF Regiment
  • No 2799 Sqn RAF Regiment
  • RAF Fairwood Common Station Flight
  • RADAR Meteorological Flight
  • Air Anglia
  • Air Wales
  • ASR Flight
  • Bristol Channel Flying Group
  • Cambrian Airways
  • Cambrian Flying Club
  • Cormorant Aviation Services
  • Dan-Air
  • De Havilland Aviation
  • Falcon Flying School
  • Gower Aviation Flying Club
  • Gower Flight Centre
  • Gower Jets
  • HeliAir Wales
  • Horizon Flight Training
  • Mercury Airlines
  • Morton Air Services
  • RKS Flying Group
  • Swansea and District Flying School and Club
  • Swansea Flying Club
  • Swansea Sports Flying
  • Swansea UAS
  • Team Osprey
  • Team Raven
  • Trans European Airways
  • Wales Air Ambulance
  • West Wales Flying Club
C717430.jpeg

Aerial view of Fairwood Common Aerodrome, 1946. From the collections of the National Monuments Record of Wales: © Crown copyright: MoD.

Commemorative Plaque.jpg

A commemorative plaque placed on the interior wall of the Second World War watch office, now the control tower and airport cafe. © Roger Winser.

HERP2556.21.JPG

A hardened sleeping shelter at Fairwood Common, 2012. © Copyright GGAT HER Charitable Trust/Cadw

HERP2556.15.JPG

The flight office complex at Fairwood Common, 2012. © Copyright GGAT HER Charitable Trust/Cadw

HERP2556.18.JPG

Remains of the drying and latrine block at Fairwood Common, 2012. © Copyright GGAT HER Charitable Trust/Cadw

HERP2556.2.JPG

Fighter pens at Fairwood Common, 2012. © Copyright GGAT HER Charitable Trust/Cadw

HERP2556.22.jpg

The interior of a hardened sleeping shelter at Fairwood Common, 2012. © Copyright GGAT HER Charitable Trust/Cadw

HERP2556.52.JPG

A Bellman hangar at Fairwood Common, 2012. © Copyright GGAT HER Charitable Trust/Cadw

HERP2556.53.JPG

The Second World War watch office at Fairwood Common, 2012. © Copyright GGAT HER Charitable Trust/Cadw

IWM (CH 4607).jpg

Fitters working on the Rolls-Royce Merlin III of a No 125 Squadron Boulton Paul Defiant at Fairwood Common, January 1942. © IWM (CH 4607)

IWM (CH 4808).jpg

Three Hawker Hurricane Mark IIBs of No 79 Squadron RAF based at Fairwood Common during the Second World War. © IWM (CH 4808)

geograph-110787-by-Chris-Cole.jpg

View looking north-east coming in to land on runway 04 at Fairwood Common, 16 December 2002. © Chris Cole and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

IWM (CH 10105).jpg

The Duke of Gloucester, Prince Henry, standing with members of No 307 Polish Night Fighter Squadron RAF during a visit to Fairwood Common, 4 July 1943. © IWM (CH 10105)

geograph-033204-by-Nigel-Davies.jpg

Looking across the airfield, 3 August 2005. © Nigel Davies and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

IWM (CH 10201).jpg

The Duke of Gloucester, Prince Henry, at the controls of a De Havilland Mosquito of No 307 Polish Night Fighter Squadron RAF during his visit to Fairwood Common, 4 July 1943. © IWM (CH 10201)

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