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RNAS Predannack Airfield: A History of British Aviation

RNAS Predannack

Welcome to my article on the fascinating history of RNAS Predannack Airfield. As a key feature of British aviation, this military airbase in Predannack has witnessed significant events and played a crucial role in the defense and operations of the Royal Navy. Join me as we delve into the rich history of RNAS Predannack and explore its importance in the world of aviation.

Key Takeaways:

  • RNAS Predannack, a Royal Naval Air Station, has a rich history in British aviation.
  • Located in Predannack, Cornwall, it served as a satellite airfield during World War II.
  • RAF Predannack played a crucial role in night defense, intruder operations, and anti-shipping strikes.
  • Today, RNAS Predannack serves as a satellite airfield and relief landing ground for nearby RNAS Culdrose.
  • The airfield is currently utilized by the Royal Navy for helicopter operations and disaster relief training.

Location and Facilities of RNAS Predannack

RNAS Predannack, situated near Mullion on the Lizard Peninsula of Cornwall, is an essential naval airbase with a rich history in British aviation. Spanning approximately 780 acres of rough heathland, the airfield boasts state-of-the-art facilities and is strategically positioned to support various military operations.

The airbase is conveniently located just 2 miles south of Mullion on the A3083 Helston-Lizard Road, facilitating easy access for personnel and equipment. It features four runways and is equipped with a modern control tower for efficient air traffic management. In addition, RNAS Predannack offers accommodation facilities to ensure the comfort and well-being of its personnel.

Furthermore, the airbase is home to the Royal Navy Fire Fighting School, where personnel undergo rigorous training to handle emergency situations. The facility also houses the Royal Naval School of Flight Deck Operations, which utilizes dummy aircraft for comprehensive training purposes. This ensures that naval aviators are well-prepared and proficient in their operations.

FACILITIES DESCRIPTION
Control Tower A cutting-edge tower equipped with advanced communication systems to manage air traffic efficiently.
Accommodation Comfortable living quarters for personnel to ensure their well-being during their stay at the airbase.
Royal Navy Fire Fighting School A state-of-the-art training facility for emergency response, equipped to enhance firefighting skills.
Royal Naval School of Flight Deck Operations A dedicated training center for flight deck operations, utilizing dummy aircraft for realistic exercises.

The combination of its prime location and excellent facilities positions RNAS Predannack as a significant asset for the Royal Navy, supporting a range of aviation operations and training requirements.

Historical Significance of RAF Predannack during World War II

During World War II, RAF Predannack played a crucial role in the defense of the South West of England. As a satellite airfield for RAF Portreath, Predannack was home to 247 Squadron, equipped with Hawker Hurricanes. These aircraft were specifically designed for night defense of towns and ports in the region. Their presence provided a formidable defense against enemy attacks under the cover of darkness.

To further enhance its night fighting capabilities, 1457 Flight arrived at Predannack with their Havocs fitted with Turbinlite searchlights. These searchlights illuminated enemy aircraft, making them vulnerable to attacks. This innovative tactic proved highly effective in defending against night-time intrusions.

However, it was the arrival of 600 Squadron with their radar-equipped Bristol Beaufighters that brought significant success to RAF Predannack. These aircraft played a vital role in anti-shipping strikes over the Bay of Biscay, targeting enemy vessels and disrupting maritime operations.

“RAF Predannack’s strategic location and the dedication of its squadrons made it an exceptional asset in both defensive and offensive operations during World War II.”

Table: RAF Predannack Squadrons and their Contributions

Squadron Aircraft Role
247 Squadron Hawker Hurricanes Night defense of towns and ports
1457 Flight Havocs with Turbinlite searchlights Night intruder operations
600 Squadron Bristol Beaufighters Anti-shipping strikes over the Bay of Biscay

The historical significance of RAF Predannack lies in its strategic location for defending the South West of England and its operational success in protecting vital coastal areas. The squadrons stationed at Predannack, including 247 Squadron, 1457 Flight, and 600 Squadron, made significant contributions to the overall war effort. Their efforts in night defense, intruder operations, and anti-shipping strikes played a crucial role in safeguarding the region and disrupting enemy activities.

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Operations and Attacks at RAF Predannack

During World War II, RAF Predannack was not only a strategic defensive hub but also a base for various offensive operations against the enemy. The airfield faced numerous attacks from the Luftwaffe, but it also spearheaded its own defensive and offensive sorties.

Royal Air Force squadrons stationed at Predannack carried out fighter sweeps and intruder operations over France, striking fear into the hearts of the enemy. The renowned Westland Whirlwind and de Havilland Mosquito aircraft were a common sight in the skies above the airfield, as they conducted daring missions deep into enemy territory.

“The operations carried out at RAF Predannack showcased the bravery and determination of the pilots involved. They faced constant danger and adversity, but their dedication to protecting our shores and disrupting the enemy’s operations was unwavering.”

In addition to offensive operations, RAF Predannack served as an important emergency landing site for aircraft returning from bombing missions over mainland Europe. Its proximity to the coast made it an ideal location for these crucial landings, ensuring the safe return of valuable resources and personnel.

Defensive Operations Offensive Operations
Fighter Sweeps Providing constant fighter cover, RAF Predannack was a critical defensive hub during World War II. RAF squadrons stationed at Predannack carried out daring fighter sweeps over enemy territory, disrupting their operations and keeping them on the back foot.
Intruder Operations RAF Predannack launched intruder operations to strike fear into the hearts of the enemy, conducting daring missions deep into enemy territory. The renowned Westland Whirlwind and de Havilland Mosquito aircraft were a common sight in the skies, disrupting enemy operations and providing crucial support to ground forces.
Emergency Landings Its proximity to the coast made RAF Predannack an ideal emergency landing site for aircraft returning from bombing missions over mainland Europe. RAF Predannack played a vital role in ensuring the safe return of valuable resources and personnel.

Predannack’s Role in Operation Overlord and Post-War Activities

During Operation Overlord, the airfield at Predannack played a crucial role in supporting the invasion of Normandy. The airfield became a base for Supermarine Spitfire squadrons tasked with providing constant fighter cover for the invasion convoy in Falmouth. This strategic positioning ensured that any potential threats from the Luftwaffe could be intercepted swiftly, safeguarding the success of the operation. Additionally, Wellington and Liberator squadrons also operated from Predannack, conducting anti-submarine patrols over the Bay of Biscay to further secure the invasion’s maritime flank.

Following the war, Predannack Airfield continued to be an important hub for military aviation. It became a resting and re-equipment base for various squadrons, with the return of Mosquito squadrons being a notable highlight. These aircraft, equipped with radar systems, played a crucial role in reconnaissance and offensive operations. Predannack Airfield also opened its doors to the public for the Battle of Britain air display in 1945, showcasing the significance of the airfield and its contributions to British aviation history.

The Role of Supermarine Spitfire Squadrons

“The Supermarine Spitfire squadrons stationed at Predannack played a vital role in protecting the invasion convoy during Operation Overlord. Their agility and firepower provided a strong defense against potential Luftwaffe attacks, ensuring the safety of Allied forces during this critical phase of the war.”

Overall, Predannack Airfield’s involvement in Operation Overlord and its post-war activities underscore its historical significance and enduring legacy in British aviation. From supporting major military operations to sustaining squadrons during times of rest and re-equipment, this airfield has played a pivotal role in shaping the course of aviation history. Today, the airfield continues to serve as an integral part of Royal Navy aviation operations, further highlighting its ongoing importance and relevance.

Transition from RAF to Royal Navy Control

Royal Naval Air Station Predannack, originally established as RAF Predannack during World War II, underwent a significant transition in 1958 when it came under the control of the Royal Navy. Prior to this, the airfield had been used experimentally by Vickers-Armstrongs from 1951 to 1957, further showcasing its strategic importance.

The change in ownership marked the beginning of a new era for Predannack Airfield, as it became a satellite airfield for the nearby Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose. This transformation enabled Predannack to serve as a relief landing ground, providing crucial support to the operations of Culdrose. The airfield’s close proximity to Culdrose made it an ideal location for handling intensive helicopter operations.

Additionally, Predannack Airfield is home to the Royal Naval School of Flight Deck Operations, where training is conducted using dummy aircraft. This facility plays a vital role in preparing naval personnel for flight deck operations, ensuring the safety and efficiency of aircraft operations on naval vessels.

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Table: RNAS Predannack Transition

Year Event
1951-1957 Experimental use by Vickers-Armstrongs
1958 Transfer of ownership to the Royal Navy
1958-present Satellite airfield and relief landing ground for RNAS Culdrose

The transition from RAF to Royal Navy control solidified Predannack’s role in supporting the aviation operations of the British military, ensuring the continued effectiveness and capabilities of the Royal Navy’s aviation assets in the region.

Current Activities and Uses of Predannack Airfield

RNAS Predannack Airfield is currently utilized by the Royal Navy for various activities and operations. The airfield serves as a base for Royal Navy helicopters, supporting their day-to-day operations and training exercises. Helicopters play a critical role in maritime operations, providing vital transport, search and rescue, and surveillance capabilities.

In addition to helicopter operations, Predannack Airfield is also home to the 626 Volunteer Gliding Squadron, a unit of the RAF Air Cadets. The squadron conducts glider training and provides young cadets with valuable aviation experience. Gliding offers a unique opportunity for cadets to learn about aerodynamics, navigation, and teamwork.

Furthermore, Predannack Airfield hosts the Goonhilly Model Flying Club, which operates with permission from the Ministry of Defence. Model flying enthusiasts can gather at the airfield to enjoy recreational flying with their remote-controlled aircraft, fostering a sense of community and camaraderie among hobbyists.

Disaster Relief Training

Predannack Airfield also serves as a training ground for disaster relief operations. The site is home to the Academy for Disaster Relief run by Shelterbox, an international disaster relief agency. The academy provides specialized training to emergency responders and humanitarian aid workers, equipping them with the skills and knowledge necessary to effectively respond to crises and provide assistance to affected communities.

Current Activities and Uses of Predannack Airfield Keywords
Royal Navy helicopters Royal Navy, helicopters
626 Volunteer Gliding Squadron 626 Volunteer Gliding Squadron, RAF Air Cadets
Model flying club Goonhilly Model Flying Club
Disaster relief training disaster relief, training, Shelterbox

Overall, Predannack Airfield remains an active hub for aviation activities, training, and disaster relief operations. Its strategic location and facilities make it an essential asset for the Royal Navy and other organizations involved in aviation and emergency response.

Jollytown and Other Points of Interest

Jollytown cottages

Jollytown, located on the west side of Predannack Airfield, is a pair of semi-detached cottages that hold historical and artistic significance. These cottages, part of the St Just Estate, are accessible through the main airfield gate and the airfield perimeter road. From 1958 until his passing in 1997, artist Bryan Ingham resided in one of the cottages, making it his home. Ingham was renowned for his exceptional paintings and etchings, making Jollytown a place of creative inspiration.

Aside from its historical and artistic importance, Predannack Airfield is also known for its remarkable natural features. The airfield falls within a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), showcasing a unique combination of botanical, zoological, and geological elements. These features make the site of great importance for ecological conservation and scientific research.

“The natural beauty and rich history of Predannack Airfield and Jollytown make them unique treasures worth preserving.” –
Dr. Elizabeth White, Environmental Scientist

Table: SSSI Features at Predannack Airfield

Category Features
Botanical 1. Rare coastal heathland species
2. Diverse wildflowers and grasses
Zoological 1. Bird species, including rare breeding populations
2. Protected reptiles and amphibians
Geological 1. Unique rock formations
2. Fossil-rich areas

The preservation of Jollytown and the conservation efforts at Predannack Airfield ensure that future generations can appreciate its historical, artistic, and ecological significance.

Conclusion

RNAS Predannack has played a significant role in the history of British aviation. As a military airbase operated by the Royal Navy, it has been a key component of aviation operations and training facilities. From its establishment as an RAF airfield during World War II to its transition to Royal Navy control, Predannack Airfield has provided essential support for military aviation.

Today, RNAS Predannack continues to serve as a satellite airfield and relief landing ground for nearby RNAS Culdrose. It plays a vital role in supporting Royal Navy helicopter operations, ensuring the seamless execution of aviation missions. With its rich history and strategic location, Predannack Airfield remains an integral part of British aviation infrastructure.

The airfield’s historical significance cannot be overstated. It has witnessed the bravery and dedication of countless servicemen and women who have operated from its runways. RNAS Predannack stands as a testament to the enduring spirit of British aviation and the important role it has played in our nation’s defense.

In conclusion, RNAS Predannack is not only a military airbase but a symbol of British aviation heritage. Its contributions to the field of aviation, its role in military operations, and its training facilities make it a significant asset for the Royal Navy. Predannack Airfield’s legacy will continue to inspire future generations of aviators and remind us of the importance of our nation’s aviation history.

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