Cranwell Airfield History

RAF Cranwell Airfield
(Map edited to show runways)
RAF Cranwell Crest
© Crown Copyright/MOD 2010
Airfield Code:EGYDGoogle Earth Co-ordinates:
53°13'35.01"N 0°17'35.37"W
Wartime Runways: Cranwell North:
N/S 3600ft (grass) - NE/SW 4500ft (grass) - E/W 2700ft (grass) - SE/NW 2250ft (grass)
Cranwell South:
E/W 7500ft (grass) - NE/SW 3300ft (grass) - SE/NW 3600ft (grass) - E/W 3300ft (asphalt)
Current Runways: Cranwell North:
NE/SW (grass)
Cranwell South:
01/19 4803ft x 147ft - 09/27 6831ft x 147ft - 09R/27L 2395ft x 131ft (grass)
Station History

The history of military aviation at Cranwell goes back to November 1915 when the Admiralty requisitioned 2500 acres of land from the Earl of Bristol's estate. And on the 1st April 1916 the Royal Naval Air Service, Training Establishment, Cranwell was officially born. The first commander was Commodore Godfrey M. Paine. As the naval personnel were held on the books of HMS Daedalus, a hulk that was moored on the River Medway, this gave rise to a misconception that Cranwell was first established as HMS Daedalus.

With the establishment of the Royal Air Force as an independent service in 1918, the RNAS Training Establishment became RAF Cranwell. Cranwell became the entry point for all those who wished to become permanent officers in the RAF and the selection process was extremely stringent. Initially the course took two years but by the fifties this had expanded to three. Until 81 Entry, arriving in September 1959, all flying training took place at the College, basic training on Piston Provosts and advanced on either Vampires or Meteors. With the arrival of No.81 Entry the Academic syllabus was improved to allow cadets to gain degrees in humanities or AFRAES. To enable this to happen in the three year course only basic training was carried out at Cranwell on the new Jet Provosts Mk's 3 and 4.Cadets still received their wings on passing out at Cranwell but went on to advanced flying courses at either RAF Oakington or RAF Valley. In 1962/3 The Whittle Center was built to support the new syllabus, opened by Sir Frank. This meant that the old East and West Camps which had been used for lectures were put out of commission.

Sir Frank Whittle attended RAF Cranwell in the late 1920s. It was here that he formulated many of his ideas for the jet engine and it was at Cranwell on 15th May 1941, that the world's first true jet-engine flight took place of the Gloster E.28/39.

Around 1970's RAF introduced the Direct Entry Scheme, where a fresh graduate from any university can be admitted into RAF after a short training at RAFC Cranwell. These entrants emerged with the rank of Flight Lieutenant. The RAF College was also an engineering school offering HND and CNAA degrees courses. The students are mostly commissioned officers from RAF as well as those from the Commonwealth countries. The class sizes were very small and the students had very close attention from their lecturers and instructors. RAF College also offered Non-MOD courses especially customised for air force officers from the commonwealth countries.

In 1995 The Red Arrows had to temporarily move to RAF Cranwell because RAF Scampton was closed in 1995 as part of the Defence Costs Study. The Red Arrows returned home to RAF Scampton in December of 2000.

RAF Cranwell is a busy station which fulfils many functions. The north side comprises of the RAF College which provides Initial Officer Training (IOT), Adastral Hall which houses the Inspectorate of recruiting (IofR) and the Officers and Aircrew Selection Centre (OASC) which selects and recruits officers and airman aircrew and the south side houses No.3 Flying Training School. RAF Cranwell is also home to the Royal Air Force College (RAFC), which trains the RAF's new officers on a 32-week course. It is thus the RAF equivalent of Sandhurst or the Britannia Royal Naval College, and is considered by some to be the spiritual home of the RAF. No.3 Flying Training School (FTS), training navigators and non-commissioned aircrew, is also based here. Cranwell is also home to two of the RAF bands namely the RAF College Band and the RAF Regiment Band. It is also home to the Officer and Aircrew Selection Centre (OASC). Where all applicants to the RAF as Officers or non-commissioned aircrew, are put through a 4 day rigorous selection process advanced pilot training and all RAF rear crew training. Other units based here include No.1 EFTS, the headquarters for the Air Cadet organisation, the Defence College of Aeronautical Engineering, the Defence College of Logistics Personnel Administration (DCLPA) and the East Midlands University Air Squadron (EMUAS).

Until January 2011, 3 aircraft types are being flown at the station, the King Air B200 by No.45(R) Squadron, the Dominie by No.55(R) Squadron and the Grob Tutor T.1) by No.115 Squadron. The Grob is also used by the Central Flying School and for elementary WSO training. But on the 20th January 2011 the Dominie was retired from RAF service and the Squadron (No.55(R) Sqn) was formally disbanded shortly after on 30th September 2011.

Aircraft and Squadrons
April 1916Station opened.
1920C.F.S.The Central Flying School still has it's headquarters at Cranwell.
February 1920Station begins training cadets.
1929RAF Cranwell becomes training College.
September 195981 EntryOperating the Jet Provost, de Havilland Vampire and Gloster Meteor.
1992No.45 SqnOperating the BAe Jetstream and Beechcraft King Air.
1995No.115 SqnOperating the Grob 115, as known as the Tutor T.1.
1995Red ArrowsDisplay Team temporarily based here. Left Cranwell in December 2000.
November 1996No.55 SqnOperating the Hawker Siddeley Dominie & Grob 115 (Tutor T.1). Sqn stood down on 20th January 2011.