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RAF North Coates



Reference Name MLI88641

Name:
RAF North Coates

Summary:
RAF North Coates.

Location:
NORTH COATES, EAST LINDSEY, LINCOLNSHIRE

Description:
Modern stonework airfield, the extent of which was verified on aerial photography by the National Mapping Programme. {1}

North Coates Fitties opened in 1914 as an army camp although its association with military flying followed shortly after. A BE2c landed here on 4 August 1914, the first recorded landing. North Coates airfield probably did not formally open until mid-1918, as one of 14 Royal Flying Corps landing grounds in Lincolnshire. The airfield's purpose was to save aircraft wasting time returning to their flight stations to refuel after conducting Zeppelin intercepts. North Coates was the most easterly airfield occupying an important refuelling position. In the last year of the First World War (1918) aircraft based here undertook anti-submarine patrols in support of coastal convoys.
RAF North Coates Fitties was used to concentrate some coastal land plane units of 18 Group, Coastal Command, prior to their disbandment in June 1919. With the aircraft gone there was no requirement for the 88 acre landing ground next to the army camp and it reverted to agricultural use by the end of 1919. The 'North Coates Fitties' airfield was established in 1926 to accompany the formation of an Armament Practice Camp (APC) but was not ready for aircraft use until February 1927. From 1927, aircraft would be based here for range practice on nearby Theddlethorpe Range and Donna Nook Range. In February 1940 Coastal Command occupied the station, dropping the Fitties part of the name, with three Blenheim-equipped squadrons conducting long range North Sea patrolling and low-altitude shipping attacks. These departed in May 1940 and RAF North Coates assumed the anti-surface unit/shipping warfare role which it maintained until the end of the Second World War. Overcrowding of North Coates led to RAF Donna Nook, home to a decoy airfield and bombing range, being pressed into service to provide an overspill runway. At the end of 1941 it became necessary to build a concrete runway to facilitate air sorties during wet weather. North Coates saw the development of the Strike Wing concept and on 18 April 1943 aircraft attacked a convoy with 21 aircraft without loss.
The North Coates site spanned 450 acres at its peak. Between 1945 and RAF withdrawal in 1990 it hosted maintenance units, a helicopter squadron and Britain's first Bloodhound surface-to-air missile site. In 1963, 25 Squadron reformed at North Coates as the first operational Bloodhound unit in the RAF, responsible for the defence of the V-bomber bases and for the training of all personnel employed on the missile. North Coates is now operated by a flying club. {2}{3}{4}{5}{6}

A site visit was carried out in 2002 to investigate the remains of the Bloodhound missile base. The base was operational between 1957-1958 (Mark I) and 1976-1990 (Mark II) though no missiles were ever fired either in test or anger and by 1990 the site had been cleared of all missiles.
By the time of the visit, most of the buildings associated with the missile base had been demolished, and the surviving structures were obviously due for removal in the near future. Surviving buildings included one of the Mark I missile launch control blocks, stripped of internal contents, and the reinforced concrete control building and base, constructed in 1958, for the Type 82 radar array with some of its internal features intact. The Type 87 (Mark II) radar array also survived as three steel bases and control rooms, adapted to support helidecks. All of the original missile launch pads still survived though they were in the process of being broken up. Some of the associated domestic structures, for instance an ablutions block, also still survived although most had been reduced to rubble. {7}

A visit was made to the airfield as part of the Defence of Britain project. {8}

Sources:
1 Map: Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England. 1992-1996. National Mapping Programme. LINCOLNSHIRE. TA3702: LI.485.1.1
2 Bibliographic Reference: Otter, P. 1996. Lincolnshire Airfields in the Second World War. pp.184-90
3 Bibliographic Reference: T.N. Hancock. 1978. Bomber County. pp.122-23
4 Bibliographic Reference: T.N. Hancock. 1985. Bomber County 2. p.68
5 Bibliographic Reference: Ron N.E. Blake, Mike Hodgson and Bill J. Taylor. 1984. The Airfields of Lincolnshire Since 1912. p.132
6 Website: Johnston, Philip Ralph. 2008. RAF-Lincolnshire.info. http://raf-lincolnshire.info. http://raf-lincolnshire.info/northcoates/northcoates.htm
7 Article in Serial: Turner, John. 2003. Lincolnshire History and Archaeology. vol.38, pp.36-37
8 Digital Archive: Council for British Archaeology. 2006. Defence of Britain Archive. 14464

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Last updated: 05-December-2018 13:39:51

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