RAF Shawbury’s association with military flight training extends back to the early years of flight. Initially known as No 9 Training Depot Station, Shawbury became the home of a small number of Royal Flying Corps (RFC) training units, operating types such as the Avro 504, DH5A/5B, 130 Clerget, Bristol Scout, Nieuport, Maurice Farman Shorthorn and for advanced flying the Sopwith Camel.
Also resident at this time was the Aeroplane Repair Section of the RFC.
Postwar the site reverted to agriculture by 1920, however, with the Second World War looming, the site was once again re-activated during 1938 with No 27 Maintenance Unit (MU) and No 11 Flying Training School (FTS) as the first residents. Aircraft types operating at Shawbury, and its numerous relief landing grounds, during these early days included the Hart, Blenheim, Audax, Battle, Gladiator, and Fury. By mid 1940 the FTS was consolidating the training given by civilian instructors to prepare pilots for operational squadrons.
By 1942, now renamed as No 11 (Pilot) Advanced Flying Unit, the unit was receiving its pilots for training from overseas bases, mainly in the USA.
In 1944 it became the home of the Central Navigation School, primarily concerned with improving the standard of air navigation in bombers. In 1950 the School of Air Traffic Control also moved to Shawbury, combining to form the Central Navigation and Control School. In 1963 the Navigation Wing moved to RAF Manby.
Shawbury became a base for basic and advanced helicopter training during 1976, with No 2 FTS and its Aerospatiale Gazelle and Westland Wessex being used for the respective roles. Shawbury is also home to the Air Traffic Control School and the RAF Aircraft Storage flight, where surplus aircraft are stored.
Defence Helicopter Flying School
The concept of a DHFS was born during the Defence Cost Study of 1994; this led to the selection of a single site for basic helicopter training using contractor-owned aircraft and a proportion of civilian flying instructors. Basic helicopter training commenced in April 1997 and is provided for pilots of the UK’s three armed services, in addition to foreign and Commonwealth countries. The School also provides advanced and multi-engine training for RAF aircrew and other special courses for the three services. The School trains approximately 400 students a year, including navigators, crewman and postgraduate students.
Currently the Squirrel HT.1, is operated by 660 & 705 Sqns. Commanded by an Army Major, 660 Sqn acts as the Single Engine Basic Rotary Wing Squadron, teaching basic flying training. 705 Sqn, commanded by a Royal Navy Ltr Cdr, teaches more advanced techniques as the Single Engine Advanced Rotary Wing Squadron.
RAF students progress to the Griffin HT.1s of the Multi Engine Advanced Rotary Wing Squadron; designated 60(R) Sqn and commanded by an RAF Sqn Ldr. Students are detached from their Shawbury based Sqns for periods to the DHFS Search and Rescue Training Unit (SARTU), which is located at RAF Valley in North Wales, to carry out training in advanced techniques in this more challenging environment. In addition SARTU provides training courses for personnel of the Search and Rescue force.
RAF Shawbury Tour
RAF Shawbury is to be commended for allowing enthusiasts regular access to the six hangars of the Aircraft Maintenance & Storage Unit (hangars 10, 11, 13, 14, 17 & 18), in addition to hangars 4 (Squirrel), 3 (FBH Ltd), 5 (Assault Glider Project), 2 (Griffin) and 1 (6 Flt AAC(V) and the Westland's Apache Team).
Noted during our visit on 27th September were the following aircraft:
Hangar 1 (Westland Support Team area)
Apache - ZJ186, ZJ197, ZJ198 & ZJ202 (Note long term resident ZJ222 departed to Wattisham 10/09/07)
Tucano - ZF138, 162, 206, 207, 208, 241, 286, 288, 372, 376, 418, 447, 449, 486, 487 & 492
Hawk - XX161, XX295 & XX322
Puma - XW200 main fuselage no tail boom, wreck (I)FOR marks still visible.
Crashed in heavy fog near Kosovo-Macedonia border, south west of Pristina 09/04/01
Tucano - ZF163, ZF202, ZF203, ZF211, ZF212, ZF315, ZF380 (wing marked with code 144), ZF268, ZF405, ZF410, ZF412, ZF483, ZF484, ZF488, ZF490 & ZF516
Hawk - XX177, XX219, XX225, XX320 & XX323
Tucano - ZF136, ZF137, ZF160, ZF166, ZF168, ZF238, ZF266, ZF319, ZF346, ZF375, ZF413 & ZF445
Sea Harrier FA.2 - ZH796, ZH804, ZH811, ZH812 & ZH813/010L
Puma (XW202) no serial worn, 'shell only' (stripped for spares)
Jetstream T.3 ZE440/78
Tucano - ZF379 & ZF408
Gazelle - XZ346
Hawk - XX232 (also six Hawk centre/rear fuselage sections ex Mod2010 Brough, XX157, XX161, XX244 & XX332)
Sea Harrier FA.2 - ZD579/N-8
ZF242, 263, 318, 320, 350, 414 & 416
XW848/D, XW849, XW851 ('pod' only confirmation required that this 'pod' was not from XZ318), XW897, XW904/H, XW909, XW913, XX375, XX381, XX383/D, XX384, XX385, XX389, XX394, XX398, XX409, XX412/B, XX416, XX417, XX419, XX437, XX439, XX448, XX455, XZ292, XZ301, XZ313, XZ316/B, XZ324, XZ341, XZ343, XZ344/Y, ZA728/E, ZA771, ZA773/F, ZA774, ZA775, ZA776, ZB665, ZB674, ZB679 & ZB690
Tucano T.1 - ZF161, 345, 446, 513 & 514
Hawk - XX160, 173, 239, 290, 296, 309, 310 &, 319/CT
Tornado GR.4 (fuselages only but still on u/c) ZA470 (14 Sqn marks ex BQ), ZD892 & ZG769
Squirrel HT.1 - ZJ251, ZJ254, ZJ256, ZJ257, ZJ261, ZJ262, ZJ264, ZJ265, ZJ266, ZJ268, ZJ269, ZJ270, ZJ271, ZJ272, ZJ273, ZJ274, ZJ275 & ZJ280
Squirrel HT.2 - ZJ243
Griffin HT.1 - ZJ234/S, ZJ237/T, ZJ240/U, ZJ707/O
6(V)Flt/7 Regt AAC
Gazelle AH.1 XW899/Z, XZ304 & XZ311
Gazelle HT.2 9300M/43 (XX431) Hangar 3
Scout AH.1 XV123 on mound outside 660 Sqn Ops
Wessex HC.2 XT672/WE 'Aries' 2 FTS marks - gate guard
Wessex HC.2 XR516/V (9319M) 60 Sqn marks Hangar 2
Fire Training Area
Wessex HU5 XT773/(CU8)22/(9123M) minus tail section
Dakota III KG651 (G-AMHJ) Assault Glider Trust (wings removed)
AS.350B-1 Ecureuil G-DOIT earmarked for DHFS use.
Misc (H5) Assault Glider Trust
Horsa I replica "LH291" (BAPC 279)(wings under built)
Waco CG-4A Hadrian replica "241079" frame on (re)build
DH82A Tiger Moth II (G-ANBY/EM840) on (re)build
Visitors noted were:
Lynx HMA.8 ZD258/672(NC) 815 NAS HMS Newcastle Flt.
Jetstream T.2 XX478/CU(5)64 750 NAS
Gazelle AH.1 XX462/W 658 Sqn/7 Regt (from Netheravon)
Vigilant T.1 ZH119/TE & ZH126/TM 632 VGS (Hangar 17, detached from Ternhill)
Griffin HAR.2 ZJ703 'Spades' 84 Sqn. Arrived 10/07/07 – undoubtedly the 'star' visitor for most present!
On behalf of all the group members present, a sincere thank you is extended to the RAF Shawbury Tour Organiser Mark Vickers, and we wish the Station MCO, Sqn Ldr Martin Locke, a very happy retirement.
© On Target Aviation 2008