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Places > Cranfield > Airfields

Work on Cranfield airfield started in 1935. In 1937 the station opened under No.1 Group of Bomber Command. No. 1 Bomber Command consisted of ten squadrons of light bombers based at three airfields and within a short time three squadrons of Hawker Hind aircraft had arrived. In 1938 the Hawker Hinds began to be replaced by the Blenheim Is aircraft.

In July 1938, the station was transferred to No. 2 Group of Bomber Command. The Air Ministry planned to put all Blenheim Squadrons into this Group. In 1939 another change took place and No. 6 Training Group took over. Along with this change another light bomber appeared, the Fairey Battle.

During the winter of 1939/40 the runways at Cranfield were upgraded to become ‘firm’ runways and by 1940, the station had three tarmac runways. In April of that year a Service Flying Training School moved into Cranfield and RAF Cranfield changed Commands, into Flying Training Command. During the summer of 1941 No. 51 Operational Training Unit moved to Cranfield from  Essex. This unit was to provide training for night-fighter crews and remained at Cranfield for the rest of the war.

After the war, the Empire Test Pilots School moved in from Boscombe Down, it subsequently moved to Farnborough in August 1947. The School had shared the facilities at Cranfield with Britain’s first College of Aeronautics (founded in 1946) before it moved out. This college was later to become known as Cranfield College of Technology. In 1969, the College of Technology received University status.


Page last updated: 23rd January 2014