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Rattray (Crimond) (Rattray Head)

Major

Did you know?

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The fabled Jim Clark had his first ever race at Crimond - as the airfield had again become known by then - on 16 June 1956. At that time it was Britain's most northerly motor racing circuit, handy in being far enough away from the Scottish Borders for Clark as his parents did not approve of him participating in the sport.

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Also known as: Crimond Raceway / HMS Merganser / RNAS Crimond / RNAS Rattray / RNAS Rattray Head
County: Aberdeenshire
Current Status: Aerial site / Industry / Leisure activity
Date: October 1944 - September 1946
Current Use: Disused
Used By: FAA
Landing Surface Types: Paved
Prominent People: Jim Clark
Aircraft Roles: Naval aviation

Rattray was an unusual airfield in the fact that it was the Admiralty that identified the site rather than the Air Ministry. Also known as Crimond, the site underwent a long construction period before finally opening in October 1944 as HMS Merganser. Instead of an observer school, as initially intended, Fairey Barracudas were used by a number of torpedo bomber reconnaissance (TBR) training units at Rattray. No 774, No 714 and No 717 were among the squadrons based there. No 774 Squadron had initially carried out Telegraphist Air Gunner training before the airfield had officially opened. Two front line Barracuda squadrons reformed at the airfield in the spring of 1945. Observer training was also carried out by No 753 and 766 Squadrons, flying a variety of aircraft types at the site from the autumn of 1945 to August 1946. Naval fighters in the form of Fairey Fireflies and Supermarine Seafires also flew from Rattray in the first half of 1946. The site was closed in September of that year and put on Care and Maintenance.

This airfield was built using the standard Navy layout with four hard runways. Most of the runways and hardstandings still remain although the majority of the structures have been demolished. Rattray was used as Royal Naval Wireless Telegraphy Station Crimond from 1978. A private company now runs the radio station after being outsourced in 2004, with radio masts visible on the airfield. Motor sport in various forms has also lasted on a more limited level since the 1950s.

 

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

  • Buchan East Community Council

Notable Past Associated Organisations:

  • Aberdeen and District Motor Club

Main unit(s) present:

  • No 708 Sqn
  • No 714 Sqn
  • No 717 Sqn
  • No 753 Sqn
  • No 766 Sqn
  • No 769 Sqn
  • No 774 Sqn
  • No 815 Sqn
  • No 817 Sqn
  • No 818 Sqn
  • No 821 Sqn
  • No 825 Sqn
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Aerial view of Rattray, taken from the north-north-east, 6 July 2006. © Crown Copyright: Historic Environment Scotland

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Aerial view of Rattray, taken from the north, 6 July 2006. © Crown Copyright: Historic Environment Scotland

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Aerial view of Rattray, taken from the south-west, 6 July 2006. © Crown Copyright: Historic Environment Scotland

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Aerial view of Rattray, taken from the south, 11 September 2007. © Courtesy of Historic Environment Scotland

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Aerial view of Rattray, taken from the south-south-east, 25 July 2009. © Crown Copyright: Historic Environment Scotland

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Aerial view of Rattray, taken from the west-north-west, 25 July 2009. © Crown Copyright: Historic Environment Scotland

Various photographs and footage at Rattray. Courtesy of Graham Innes

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