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Hatfield (Bishops Hatfield)

Major

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Hatfield is still used in various ways as a heritage trail and, in the recent past, occasionally for television and film productions, such as 'Saving Private Ryan'.

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Also known as: BAe Hatfield / Ellenbrook Fields / Ellenbrook Park / Hatfield Business Park / RAF Hatfield / Salisbury Village
County: Hertfordshire
Current Status: Industry / Housing
Date: June 1930 - 8 April 1994
Current Use: Disused
Used By: RAF / Civil

Opened in 1930, the former RAF Hatfield Airfield was synonymous with aircraft production and used too for flying training, although known in this latter capacity to a lesser degree. Indeed, aircraft production by de Havilland was in full swing by the mid-1930s and many of the company’s extremely well known types were built and first flown from here: the Tiger Moth and Dominie trainers, Rapide transport, Mosquito fighter-bomber, Vampire and Venom jet fighters and the Comet, the world’s first jet airliner. Eventually two-thirds of the legendary Mosquito produced were built at Hatfield. Such was the importance of aircraft production that all flying training was moved to Panshanger in the middle of the Second World War.

The Luftwaffe recognised the value of this airfield and an attack by a single Junkers 88 in October 1940 caused heavy loss of life. Top double agent Eddie Chapman – agent Zigzag - carried out a successful spoof explosion at the factory to mislead the Germans in 1943.

A hard runway was laid shortly after the Second World War, Hatfield then carrying on in the aircraft production and related fields until the early 1990s. From the 1960s onwards the gradual merging of British aircraft companies saw different names appear before the eventual emergence of British Aerospace.

Hatfield for decades had easily served as the town’s main employer but in 1992 production finished of the BAe 146 airliner. The last ever flight here was by a de Havilland Canada Chipmunk light aircraft in April 1994.

Since then much of the airfield has disappeared to make way for industry, housing and education, while parkland now exists on the former landing area. However a main hangar and the control tower notably survive, and Hatfield is still used in various ways as a heritage trail and, in the recent past, occasionally for television and film productions, such as 'Saving Private Ryan'.

 

The following organisations are either based at, use and/or have at least potentially significant connections with the airfield (as at 01/07/2013):

  • BAE Systems
  • Gay Trading
  • Beales Hotel
  • Booker
  • Club de Havilland
  • Computacenter
  • David Lloyd Hatfield
  • de Havilland Bowls Club
  • de Havilland Primary School
  • de Havilland Sports and Social Club
  • Denso
  • DHL Express
  • DHL Supply Chain
  • Eisai
  • Environment Agency
  • Everything Everywhere
  • Goodman UK
  • Goodrich
  • Hatfield Library
  • Hatfield Local History Society
  • Hatfield Police Station
  • Henkel
  • Hertfordshire Sports Village
  • Howe Dell School
  • io Centre
  • KFC
  • Lightning Packaging
  • Mill Green Museum
  • Ocado
  • Porsche Centre Hatfield
  • Ramada Hatfield Hotel
  • Regus
  • Royal Mail
  • Saracens RFC
  • Scania
  • Skandia
  • T-Mobile
  • The Airfield
  • The Hangar Hotel
  • Three Valleys Water
  • Travelodge
  • University of Hertfordshire
  • University of Hertfordshire - de Havilland Campus

Notable Past Associated Organisations:

  • British Aerospace
  • de Havilland Aircraft Company Limited
  • Hawker Siddeley Aviation

Main Unit(s) Present:

  • No 1 Anti-Aircraft Calibration Flight

  • No 1 E&RFTS

  • No 1 EFTS

  • No 2 Sqn

  • No 3 FPP

  • No 5 FPP

  • No 8 MU

  • No 15 MU

  • No 116 Sqn

  • No 239 Sqn

  • ATA School

  • ATA (Womens Section)

  • de Havilland School of Flying

  • London Aero Club

  • Propellers Flying Group

  • RAF Flying Club

  • TK Flying Group

Photographs from the unveiling of the ABCT marker at Hatfield on 29 September 2012:

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IWM (ATP 9097B).jpg

A de Havilland DH 91 Albatross at Hatfield during the interwar period. © IWM (ATP 9097B)

IWM (ATP 9193G).jpg

The prototype de Havilland DH 93 Don at Hatfield during the interwar period. © IWM (ATP 9193G)

IWM (ATP 18262F).jpg

The prototype de Havilland Venom FB 1 at Hatfield, September 1949. © IWM (ATP 18262F)

IWM (ATP 18376B).jpg

The first de Havilland DH106 Comet prototype at Hatfield, c. 1949. © IWM (ATP 18376B)

IWM (E(MOS) 516).jpg

One of the first de Havilland Mosquito II night-fighters, seen after a demonstration flight during a visit by the Duke of Kent to the de Havilland plant at Hatfield in November 1941. © IWM (E(MOS) 516)

IWM (C 389).jpg

Pauline Gower (far left), Commandant of the Women's Section of the ATA, stands with eight other founding female ATA pilots at Hatfield by newly-completed de Havilland Tiger Moths during the Second World War. © IWM (C 389)

IWM (C 382).jpg

The first pilots of the ATA Womens' Section walking past newly-completed de Havilland Tiger Moths at Hatfield during the Second World War. © IWM (C 382)

IWM (C 380).jpg

Pauline Gower, Commandant of the ATA Women's Section, waving from the cockpit of a de Havilland Tiger Moth at Hatfield during the Second World War. © IWM (C 380)

IWM (MH 4576).jpg

A de Havilland Dominie C Mark 1, which served with the Air Transport Auxiliary, on the ground at Hatfield, August 1942. © IWM (MH 4576)

IWM (TR 930).jpg

Mrs Judd prepares strips of wood to tack over gauze inside the hull of a de Havilland Mosquito aircraft at Hatfield during the Second World War. © IWM (TR 930)

IWM (TR 920).jpg

Final checks and adjustments to a de Havilland Mosquito before a test flight from Hatfield, 1943. © IWM (TR 920)

IWM (TR 1426).jpg

De Havilland Mosquito aircraft in various stages of production at Hatfield, 1943. © IWM (TR 1426)

The King's Cup Air Race at Hatfield, 1934. Courtesy of British Pathé

The de Havilland aircraft factory at Hatfield, 1948. Courtesy of British Pathé

An RAF flying display at Hatfield, 1970. Courtesy of British Pathé

 

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