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Weston Zoyland

Major

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No 100 Squadron and its Fairey Fawn bombers experienced quite a change when first arriving at Weston Zoyland towards the end of June 1925, having come straight from the RAF Display at Hendon where over 100,000 people attended that event.

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Also known as: RAF Weston Zoyland / Springway Industrial Estate / Springway Lane Business Park / USAAF Station 447 / Westonzoyland
County: Somerset
Current Status: Aviation / Farmland / Industry / Leisure activity / Public Road
Date: June 1925 - 9 December 1957; subsequent minor use
Current Use: Limited flying
Used By: RAF / RAF (Polish) / Civil / USAAF
Landing Surface Types: Unpaved, later paved

Weston Zoyland - the RAF almost invariably spelled the airfield’s name as two words, as opposed to one word for the nearby village - always looked a rather outlying airfield, yet enjoyed in its military days a diversity of roles as a home for fighters, bombers, trainers and transports. The two main tasks which however dominated proceedings were Army co-operation and even more so anti-aircraft co-operation, primarily due to the gunnery range established at Watchet on the north Somerset coast during 1925.

Towards the end of June of that same year No 100 Squadron first used Weston Zoyland as a temporary summer camp for exercises with its biplane bombers, as was the case with a few other airfields across Britain during the 1920s and 1930s which eventually also became far more prominent such as North Coates, Odiham and Sutton Bridge. Users over the next fourteen years gradually evolved from the Night Flying Flight to the Anti-Aircraft Co-operation Flight (later Unit) and eventually ‘A’ Flight of No 1 Anti-Aircraft Co-operation Unit. Biggin Hill acted as its headquarters base until Farnborough took charge instead in April 1938. For all of this time Weston Zoyland physically never amounted to much more than a grass landing area along with a few canvas hangars and tents but nevertheless gave most useful support for training duties, and would prove even more capable with the start of World War Two.

One particularly noteworthy unit became No 16 Squadron as its full arrival, instead of only staying as a detachment, allowed Weston Zoyland to attain permanent and self-accounting RAF airfield status from the summer of 1940. The strong anti-aircraft co-operation commitment remained but now Army co-operation became most important too as a number of squadrons involved in this role flying types such as the North American Mustang quickly passed through in the middle war years. No 16 Squadron moved to Andover at the start of 1943, still operating Westland Lysanders as well as Mustangs.

Big changes soon occurred that year as three hard runways were laid, while in 1944 the anti-aircraft co-operation aircraft of Nos 286 and 587 Squadrons had to be temporarily displaced to Culmhead until the early autumn to allow in Douglas C-47s of the 442nd Troop Carrier Group to participate in D-Day. After this period Weston Zoyland kept busy into peacetime with further AA co-operation and notably fighter use, but No 587 Squadron left in June 1946 and its long-term base went on to Care and Maintenance on 1 November before closing on 16 June 1947.

This was too good an airfield to permanently close and in June 1952 No 209 Advanced Flying School formed here with Gloster Meteors, seeing two further name changes before going to Strubby in 1955. Several English Electric Canberra jet bomber squadrons now appeared at Weston Zoyland but they were by now mainly concerned with preparing for atomic bomb trials in Australia and this place in many ways seemed to be serving once again as a more interim airfield, finally closing in a general military capacity in December 1957, though still being held by the authorities until the end of the 1960s.

Even today aviation has not completely finished as the airfield’s north-west side continues to see minor unlicensed civil flying. Weston Zoyland remains fairly tangible, what with the A372 road running along the great majority of the main runway, and otherwise still shows its versatility by acting as a base for industry, a car boot sale, motor sport and community support through the gymnasium/cinema now being used to good effect as the village hall.

 

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

  • AMTC Somerset Motorcycle Training School
  • Kleen Kutt
  • Middlezoy Parish Council
  • National Sprint Association
  • St Mary's Church, Westonzoyland
  • Sedgemoor Radio Control Flying Club
  • Slabs R Us Limited
  • Somerset Pro Karting
  • Westonzoyland Parish Council

Main unit(s) present:

  • No 1 AACU 'A' Flight

  • No 1 AACU 'C' Flight

  • No 1 AACU 'K' Flight

  • No 1 AACU 'P' Flight

  • No 1 Anti-Aircraft Practice Camp
  • No 1 Fighter Command Servicing Unit

  • No 3 All-Weather Jet Refresher Sqn

  • No 3 Fighter Command Servicing Unit

  • No 8 AACU
  • No 12 FTS

  • No 13 APC
  • No 16 Sqn

  • No 19 Sqn

  • No 26 Sqn

  • No 32 Sqn

  • No 41 OTU

  • No 63 Sqn

  • No 73 Sqn

  • No 76 Sqn

  • No 98 Sqn
  • No 100 Sqn

  • No 122 Sqn

  • No 140 Sqn

  • No 151 Sqn

  • No 168 Sqn

  • No 169 Sqn

  • No 170 Sqn

  • No 171 Sqn

  • No 209 AFS
  • No 209 Sqn

  • No 222 Sqn

  • No 225 Sqn
  • No 231 OCU
  • No 231 Sqn

  • No 239 Sqn

  • No 241 Sqn

  • No 268 Sqn

  • No 285 Sqn

  • No 286 Sqn

  • No 318 Sqn
  • 442nd TCG
  • No 525 Sqn

  • No 542 Sqn

  • No 587 Sqn

  • No 691 Sqn

  • No 1362 Flight

  • No 1492 (Fighter) Gunnery Flight

  • No 1492 (TT) Flight

  • No 1540 BAT Flight

  • No 1600 (AAC) Flight

  • No 1601 (AAC) Flight

  • No 1625 (AAC) Flight

  • Anti-Aircraft Co-operation Flight

  • Anti-Aircraft Co-operation Unit

  • Base Transport Unit

  • Night Flying Flight

  • Transport Command Base Unit

  • Westonzoyland Flying Club
  • Wright Flight

Photographs and footage from the ABCT memorial marker unveiling at Weston Zoyland on 28 November 2015:

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geograph-129267-by-Adrian-and-Janet-Quantock.jpg

Looking down one of the runways at Weston Zoyland, 26 February 2006. © Adrian and Janet Quantock and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

geograph-128603-by-Adrian-and-Janet-Quantock.jpg

Looking down one of the runways at Weston Zoyland, 26 February 2006. © Adrian and Janet Quantock and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

geograph-1801956-by-Nigel-Mykura.jpg

Looking down one of the runways at Weston Zoyland, 9 April 2010. © Nigel Mykura and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

geograph-129281-by-Adrian-and-Janet-Quantock.jpg

Microlights at Weston Zoyland, 26 February 2006. © Adrian and Janet Quantock and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

geograph-5053337-by-Roger-Cornfoot.jpg

Part of the perimeter track at Weston Zoyland, 27 July 2016. © Roger Cornfoot and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

geograph-4656594-by-Neil-Owen.jpg

Westonzoyland village hall, the former gymnasium and cinema, 10 September 2015. © Neil Owen and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

geograph-4658559-by-Neil-Owen.jpg

The control tower at Weston Zoyland, 10 September 2015. © Neil Owen and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

geograph-4658548-by-Neil-Owen.jpg

The control tower at Weston Zoyland, 10 September 2015. © Neil Owen and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Various photographs of Weston Zoyland. Courtesy of John Grech

Footage of the control tower at Weston Zoyland. Courtesy of John Grech

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