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We are currently compiling information for this project on RAF Nuneaton. We are desperately short of wartime photographs of the RAF Nuneaton and the units that operated from it, so if you have any interesting photographs or stories relating to RAF Nuneaton that we could use we would be most grateful for any help you could give. Please contact admin@aircadetonline.com if you have any information appertaining to RAF Nuneaton.

 

RAF Nuneaton in 1945 - Click to enlarge viewOne of the biggest tasks facing the R.A.F during the Second World War was the training of bomber crews, not only to man the scores of new squadrons that were being formed, but also to replace the hundreds of crews continually being lost on bombing operations.

Almost as many airfields were involved in this training role as there were operational bomber stations, where the central counties of England were the preferred regions for these airfields, being far enough behind the crowded operational counties on the eastern side of the country.

The neighbouring permanent R.A.F Station at Bramcote was one of the airfields engaged in the training of bomber crews, and as the commitment grew the Air Ministry decided that it would be provided with a satellite airfield from where about half the strength of its expanding establishment could operate from.

A suitable site for a temporary war time airfield was chosen some four miles north of the town of Nuneaton , when contractors moved in during early 1942 to start laying the three concrete runways and encircling perimeter track. Along this track would be 27 dispersal points, many of which were on long spurs to the west, as the railway to the south, and higher ground to the east, dictated this. Because this airfield was meant to be a satellite, only a single 'T2' type steel hangar and a small technical site were provided at the western side of the airfield. A number of communal and domestic sites, well dispersed around the countryside further to the west, could accommodate over 1400 personnel.

On completion on the 7 th of February 1943 , the airfield opened under the control of No.92 Group, Bomber Command to serve as a satellite to Bramcote, the home of No.18 Operational Training Unit. This O.T.U was unique as it concentrated on training Polish airmen who had found their way to England via various routes, wishing to join the R.A.F to get their own back on the Germans. In this instance they had volunteered to become bomber crews, the object of this unit was to put them through a 12 weeks course to train them to become efficient crews, before joining one of three Polish operational bomber squadrons then serving in England .

Sections of the above O.T.U arrived from Bramcote on the above mention date with a compliment of Vickers Wellington aircraft. After settling in to their rather austere surroundings, flying commenced flying by night and by day. However, due to policy changes training came to an abrupt end after only a few weeks, when on the 27 th of March, the O.T.U departed for Finningley.

The reason for this was because there was an urgent need for the training of transport aircraft crews, when and both Bramcote and this airfield were taken over by No.44 Group of Transport Command. In early April 1943, No.105 O.T.U formed at Bramcote, but it took some time to come up to strength, resulting in it not requiring the services of Nuneaton until the 25 th of June.

This unit also operated with Wellington aircraft, so to the onlooker nothing would have changed, but to the informed it meant fewer crew members as there were no bomb-aimers involved.

Transport Command itself was only coming into being which was building up its squadrons in readiness to take part in the invasion of Europe , where it would be responsible for uplifting troops and equipment. A steady flow of trained transport crews were required right through to the end of the war, although this unit had to make do with old ex Wellington bombers for quite some. By early 1945 Dakotas were becoming available for this training role and gradually ousted the Wellingtons.

Even after the end of the war in Europe there was still a need for crew training, as there was the Japanese war still outstanding, for which the RAF were planning to take a direct part. In August No.105 O.T.U became renamed No.1381 Transport Conversion Unit, a more fitting title as it was then converting experienced crews on to the Dakota. This form of activity continued until the TCU transferred to Desborough on the 21 st of November 1945.

The RAF Nuneaton site in 2005 now the MIRA testing ground Bramcote then became the home of the Transport Command Aircrew Examining Unit, which as its title portrays was engaged in checking that crews were up to the current standard. They operated mainly Dakotas , but also a number of Airspeed Oxfords. It is not known how much use they made of this satellite airfield although it was listed as a satellite of Bramcote until the above unit disbanded in early August 1946.

A small Care and Maintenance party was left behind to help clear all the equipment and stores, but by the end of September 1946 the station had been completely abandoned by the R.A.F. Like all the hundreds of other disused airfields it remained Government property well into the 1950s before being sold off.

As can bee seen in this second view of what was RAF Nuneaton dated (Jan 2005) the whole of the airfield area is now a testing ground for the Motor Industries Research Association (MIRA), and is very private. The wartime hangar and several other buildings on the tech site are in perfect condition and in use by MIRA. The control tower too is in good condition and is used as an observation and control centre for the testing tracks, which use nearly all of the perimeter track and runways. Several ramps of varying degrees of angle have been built, together with highly cambered sections on the perimeter track.


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