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Llanbedr

Major
Also known as: RAF Llanbedr
County: Gwynedd
Current Status: Unknown / Air Training Corps centre
Date: 15 June 1941 - June 2004
Current Use: Disused
Used By: RAF / RAF (Czech) / RAF (Dutch) / RAF (French) / RAF (Norwegian) / RAF (Polish) / FAA / USAAF

Earmarked as a fighter airfield once opened in June 1941, Supermarine Spitfires of No 74 Squadron which moved in the following October headed a steady stream of mostly similar units on convoy patrols. Aside from No 41 Squadron, at Llanbedr but with breaks elsewhere such as notably Tangmere between August 1942 and February 1943, no RAF fighter squadrons stayed particularly long. No 41 Squadron’s departure even then brought a long quiet spell here but the previous earlier flow of visitors suddenly became a flood from October 1943 when Nos 12 and 13 Armament Practice Camps appeared over the next month to provide realistic training. More Spitfire squadrons, plus to a degree Hawker Typhoon and North American Mustang ones, passed through Llanbedr until May 1944 as part of the build-up to making D-Day a success.

A matter of only days after the invasion had fully got under way Llanbedr became very quiet once again and saw out part of the rest of fighting holding a number of RAF Regiment squadrons. Yet this was not the end for the airfield by any means as No 631 Squadron transferred from Towyn in May 1945. Anti-aircraft co-operation had come to the fore and lasted under the control of different successor units until No 5 Civilian Anti-Aircraft Co-operation Unit left for Woodvale on 1 January 1958.

By now Llanbedr had become established with what transpired to be its best known use, as a base for pilotless drones under the supervision of the Royal Aircraft Establishment. Types such as the Fairey Firefly, Gloster Meteor and most of all the specifically designed and trolley-launched Fairey Jindivik were familiar sights locally for many decades as they offered target facilities for firing ranges. This practice continued right up to 2004 when operations finally ceased due to official cutbacks.

Once full closure had occurred in early 2005, Llanbedr looked set for a most uncertain future but retained its supporters and, despite some vociferous local anti-airfield environmental opposition, perhaps unexpectedly reopened nine years later for civil general aviation duties. Various other plans have arisen in more recent years and now it is even being proposed along with several other British airfields as a spaceport.

 

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 5 CAACU

  • No 12 APC

  • No 20 Sqn

  • No 41 Sqn

  • No 60 OTU

  • No 66 Sqn

  • No 74 Sqn

  • No 129 Sqn

  • No 131 Sqn

  • No 136 Airfield

  • No 164 Sqn

  • No 168 Sqn

  • No 193 Sqn

  • No 198 Sqn

  • No 232 Sqn

  • No 268 Sqn

  • No 306 Sqn

  • No 308 Sqn

  • No 312 Sqn

  • No 315 Sqn

  • No 322 Sqn

  • No 329 Sqn

  • No 331 Sqn

  • No 332 Sqn

  • No 602 Sqn

  • No 631 Sqn

  • No 776 Sqn

  • No 1486 (Fighter) Gunnery Flight

  • No 2704 Sqn RAF Regiment
  • No 2709 Sqn RAF Regiment
  • No 2710 Sqn RAF Regiment
  • No 2732 Sqn RAF Regiment
  • No 2778 Sqn RAF Regiment
  • No 2793 Sqn RAF Regiment
  • No 2795 Sqn RAF Regiment
  • No 2882 Sqn RAF Regiment
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Aerial view of Llanbedr airfield from the north-west, 17 May 2005. © Crown copyright: Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales.

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Aerial view of Llanbedr Airfield from the north-west, 27 July 2005. © Crown copyright: Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales.

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Looking across the airfield at Llanbedr, 2 May 2007. © Peter Humphreys and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

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The control tower at Llanbedr, 1 May 2007. © Peter Humphreys and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

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Hangars and other airfield buildings at Llanbedr, 4 October 2004. © Peter Humphreys and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

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The runway at Llanbedr, 1 May 2001. © Peter Humphreys and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

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Hangars at Llanbedr, 11 December 2008. © John Lucas and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

A pilotless drone landing at Llanbedr in the summer of 2004. Courtesy of nr475

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