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Langham

Major

Did you know?

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The Airfields of Britain Conservation Trust (ABCT), would not have been born were it not for a holiday during founder Kenneth’s Bannerman’s childhood and a chance encounter with Langham Airfield in 1973.

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Also known as: RAF Langham
County: Norfolk
Current Status: Farmland / Heritage site
Date: 1940 - November 1958
Current Use: Limited flying
Used By: RAF / Civil / US

Langham opened during 1940 as a satellite airfield for Bircham Newton – aircraft from there initially often dispersed at Langham, while Flights of No 1 Anti-Aircraft Co-operation Unit notably resided here until towards the end of 1942 to provide vital target-towing facilities for army firing camps at Stiffkey.

Langham became an independent RAF station in July 1942 but then reverted to Care & Maintenance the following November for extensive redevelopment, receiving three concrete runways and numerous other facilities.

The airfield reopened in February 1944, seeing considerable success during April-October of that year as Bristol Beaufighters of Nos 455 and 489 Squadrons formed a Strike Wing to mount anti-shipping operations over the North Sea amid frequently ferocious fighting. Vickers Wellingtons of Nos 524 and 612 Squadrons subsequently attacked German E-boats at night until the end of the Second World War.

Also late on in the Second World War, and for a while afterwards, Langham became noteworthy for meteorological reconnaissance duties as 521 Squadron flew a wide variety of aircraft from elderly Gloster Gladiator biplanes to Boeing B-17 Fortresses between October 1944 and November 1945.

The airfield closed to flying in May 1946 but was used by a Technical Training School for the Royal Netherlands Air Force, being reduced again to Care & Maintenance status in September 1947.

However, Langham reopened between March 1953 and November 1958 for Beaufighter and Mosquito target towers of No 2 Civilian Anti-Aircraft Co-operation Unit, importantly assisting Army firing camps by towing drogues for gunners to aim at; some jet-engined de Havilland Vampires also appeared towards the end of this period. 

There was also limited American military use during the 1950s as U.S. Army radio-controlled model aircraft were used here, again for gunnery practice.

Langham Airfield was eventually sold in October 1961, after serving as a very basic Emergency Landing Ground for Sculthorpe, and bought by Bernard Matthews for use as a turkey farm.  

Evidence of the airfield is still fairly tangible today, with the runways, perimeter track and control tower still existing; the Dome Trainer on the east side is one of the best known individual airfield buildings in Britain and is now listed. For more information on the Dome Trainer see: https://langhamdome.org/

 

The following organisations are either based at, use and/or have at least potentially significant connections with the airfield (as at 01/09/2011):

  • Bernard Matthews Farms Ltd
  • Binham and Cockthorpe Parish Council
  • Kelling Model Flying Club
  • Langham Parish Council
  • Morston Parish Council
  • North Norfolk Historic Buildings Trust
  • St. Andrew and St Mary Church, Langham
  • The Bluebell

Main unit(s) present:

  • No 1 AACU 'K' Flight
  • No 1 AACU 'M' Flight
  • No 2 Anti-Aircraft Practice Camp
  • No 2 APC
  • No 2 CAACU
  • No 24 ACHU
  • No 254 Sqn
  • No 280 Sqn
  • No 407 Sqn
  • No 455 Sqn
  • No 489 Sqn
  • No 521 Sqn
  • No 524 Sqn
  • No 612 Sqn
  • No 819 Sqn
  • No 827 Sqn
  • No 1402 Met Flight
  • No 1561 Met Flight
  • No 1562 Met Flight
  • No 1611 (AAC) Flight
  • No 1612 (AAC) Flight
  • No 1626 (AAC) Flight
  • No 2705 Sqn RAF Regiment
  • No 2731 Sqn RAF Regiment
  • No 2765 Sqn RAF Regiment
  • No 2776 Sqn RAF Regiment
  • No 2802 Sqn RAF Regiment
  • No 2809 Sqn RAF Regiment
  • No 2820 Sqn RAF Regiment
  • No 2848 Sqn RAF Regiment
  • Coastal Command Fighter Affiliation Training Unit

Photographs and video from the unveiling of the ABCT memorial marker on 26 February 2011:

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IWM (MH 6449).jpg

A Bristol Beaufighter of No 489 Squadron RNZAF, setting out from Langham on an anti-shipping strike during the Second World War. © IWM (MH 6449)

IWM (MH 6451).jpg

A Bristol Beaufighter of No 455 Squadron RAAF at Langham in the Second World War. © IWM (MH 6451)

IWM (CE 158).jpg

A Bristol Beaufighter crash landed at Langham after being damaged on an attack on shipping in the harbour of Marsdiep, Holland, 12 September 1944. © IWM (CE 158)

IWM (MH 6837).jpg
12779:41 control tower 15:07:2006.JPG

The control tower at Langham, 15 July 2006.

Section of runway now employed by broiler houses 15:07:2006.JPG

A section of runway now occupied by broiler houses, 15 July 2006.

geograph-4038555-by-Evelyn-Simak.jpg

Looking along the perimeter track at Langham, 22 June 2014. © Evelyn Simak and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Dome Trainer 15:07:2006.JPG

The Dome Trainer at Langham, 15 July 2006.

Aerial footage of Langham. Courtesy of MalcolmSpringett

© 2017 ABCT All rights reserved.
Airfields of Britain Conservation Trust is registered in England and Wales. Registered Office: 20-22 Bedford Row, London WC1R 4JS.
Registered Company No. 08940364. Registered Charity No (England and Wales): 1156877. Registered Charity No (Scotland): SC041123