RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site

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11 November 2019

Information

RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site

Details

I have covered the main history of RAF Old Sarum on my other page RAF Old Sarum, Camp and Communal Sites. This section covers the airfield or Aerodrome site, the hangars and working areas.

Old Sarum Airfield was first established in 1917 as a TDS Training Depot Station for the Royal Flying Corps and then School of Army Cooperation from 1921. Old Sarum was developed as a permanent station as part of the RAF Expansion Scheme in the 1930’s, and continued to evolve and serve the Royal Air Force and then the Army as a key training station until the 1970’s. Today Boscombe Down Aircraft Collection is housed in two of the hangars, several small industries and the Territorial Army. The airfield site has now been closed as a airfield by the leaseholders of the airfield and closed down several flying schools and the cafe just before Christmas 2019.

Early Development 1917 – 1920 : -
The site for Old Sarum Airfield was selected in 1917, to provide facilities for a training station for the rapidly expanding Royal Flying Corps (RFC). Like many others of this period, the airfield was provided with a cluster of General Service Sheds and camp buildings. It was opened in August 1917 under canvas (as buildings were not finished) and was briefly known as ‘Ford Farm’ but very soon took instead the name of the much more distinguished local fortifications (due to Ford aerodrome opening in Hampshire). Its first task was to act as a training station for the formation of new day bomber squadrons which would ultimately be sent across the Channel to operate in France.

RAF : -
The Royal Air Force (RAF) was founded on 1 April 1918, by the amalgamation of the Royal Flying Corp and Royal Naval Air Service. On the same day a new flying training unit was formed at Old Sarum to become the airfield’s principal resident unit. This was 11 Training Depot Station, whose task was the operational training of fresh aircrews.

At the end of World War I, Old Sarum was one of the few airfields which was not closed down as part of the post war run-down. In 1920, 11 Training Squadron was disbanded and preparations were made to turn the station into the permanent home of the RAF's School of Army Co-operation (S of AC).

WW2 : -
S of AC continued into WW2 aiding BEF in France, then the continuing build up through the middle years of the war and for D-Day. Old Sarum became the main concentration for RAF ground units to be used in the D-Day landings and beyond. The whole airfield (less a small landing strip) and also parts of Old Sarum Castle its self was used for the storage and waterproofing for vehicles for the landings.

Post war: -
School of Land/Air Warfare and joining them later the Joint Helicopter Development Unit and used Whirlwind’s. 1971 the airfield was transferred to the Army.

Closure as a military base :-
Closed in 1979 and sold off. In 1983 the manufacture of the Edgley Optica was started and then ended. The airfield has continued until an uncertain future for air craft in 2019, but the Museum BDAC is still very open for business.



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JHDU Whirlwind helicopters.

RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site

Information

RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site

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RAF Old Sarum

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Record Site Plan TDS 1917

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Old Sarum/Ford Farm
Plan of the TDS

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This is the original Training Depot Station plan of Old Sarum, called Ford Farm after the local farm it took over the ground from. The name was changed as the aerodrome Ford in Hampshire could be mistaken. The Airfield Technical site to the left and the Living site to the right with the Port Way Roman road used as the northern boundary.

1917/1919it was a TDS. This was a huge expansion of the original RFC when in Wiltshire alone Old Sarum, Stonehenge, Boscombe Down & Lake Down were built as TDS's. Just over the border in Hampshire was also Lopcome Corner.

Opened around June 1917, there was no buildings only an old tin barn, in the middle of the field a wind powered water pump and a thatched barn. Which became a problem to flying. The next day Bell tents arrived and they started erecting the nucleus of an aerodrome. German POW's were drafted in to help build the hangars and buildings and also some Chinese labourers who were seamen and due to the imminent chances of being torpedoed by the U-boat threat, they refused to sail. So holding them in a compound in Southampton, they were moved and also used as labour for the aerodrome construction.

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RFC Carpenters.

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Bell tents.

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L   - Lake Down.
S   - Stonehenge.
BD - Boscombe Down.
OS - Old Sarum.
N   - Netheravon.
U   - Upavon

 

RAF Old Sarum

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Record Site Plan Air Ministry 603/32

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RAF Old Sarum
Plan Air Ministry 603/32

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This is a 1932 plan of the original showing an upgrade in accommodation with married quarters for airmen and warrant officers in the top right corner and officers married quarters in the bottom right hand corner.
The RAF expansion schemes of the later 1930's Old Sarum was added to the list of having a major update. It came in the building of modern red brick buildings in the RAF style. An Officers Mess, a HQ building and many more.

But here I am going to cover the Airfield site, Hangars and Defence sites.

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1930 plan showing the hangars.

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Large Span GS Aeroplane Shed. Also called Belfast Truss.

RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site

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1930s

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RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site

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This is how RAF Old Sarum was laid out at the end of WW1 as a Training Depot Station. The three double Belfast Truss hangars and the ARS single shed. Behind the M.T. Section and all the huts laid out around the hangars. Old Sarum in white chalk on the grass and the compass platform circle in the centre, which is still there today.

Three double Large Span GS (General Service) Aeroplane Sheds and one ARS Shed (Aircraft Repair Shed).
We have two double span and one ARS sheds left, the first set burnt down many years ago in an accident (Hmm!!) the last pair are in a very bad condition at the moment.

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Inside GS Shed.

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Belfast Truss design.

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Belfast Truss principle.

RAF Old Sarum

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RAF Heraldry Trust, Old Sarum

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RAF Old Sarum

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Blazon: A double- Headed Eagle Or armed Azure displayed gorged with a Ducal Coronet Or in front of a representative Castle Mound of Old Sarum Vert ensigned with a Castle of two Towers proper (Light brown wood).
Link:The badge represents the close connection of the unit with both old and new Old Sarum. The mound is a symbolic representation of the great Castle Mound of Old Sarum whilst the double-headed eagle is taken from the Armorial Bearings of the City of Salisbury.
Motto: Latin,Semper inter primos– Ever amongst the first.
History: Opened, known briefly as Ford Farm in August 1917 before becoming Old Sarum. Transferred to Army control on 15 December 1971.
from RAF Heraldry Trust.

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RAF Heraldry Trust.

RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site

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09 September 2012 07:55am

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RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site

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The airfield and the wind sock in the distance hanging down on an early still September morning.

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The wind sock.

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A very modern aeroplane at Old Sarum..

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RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site

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16 October 2011

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RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site
22 - Guard House

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The entrance today which replaces the original guard room.

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The original Guard Room. (Paul Francis)

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Guard Party.

RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site

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18 May 2008

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RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site
Hangar 2

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Hangar 2 GS (General Service) Aeroplane Shed. This is the western end of Hangar 2 now the BDAC Museum. (More of BDAC later)

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Plan.

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BDAC.

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RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site

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18 May 2008

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RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site
Hangar 2

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For the doors to open fully allowing a full opening span of 100ft. These are brick arches to support the upper rails for the doors.

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Six large doors.

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Three of the six doors at each end.

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Door runners at the top.

RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site

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16 October 2008

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RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site
Main Drive

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The RAF in the 1930's expansion used a nursery to grow trees to plant on RAF stations to soften their presence and also as camouflage. Here the tree lines main drive through the middle of the camp.

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Transport.

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RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site

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18 May 2018

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RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site
Main Drive

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Main Drive in the winter time with no leaves on the trees.

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The main drive.

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RFC Pilots.

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Drain cover.

RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site

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1930's

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RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site
1930's

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This air photo shows the main RFC/early RAF area now left at Old Sarum. The yellow ticks are the buildings extant and the red ? are the two hangars in a very damaged condition.

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RFC Pilot.

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RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site

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18 May 2018

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RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site
Plan the area covered is between the two yellow lines.

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1,2 & 3 - Flight Sheds.
4 - ARS Shed.
5 & 6 - Plane Shed.
7 - Wood Workshop & Parachute Store.
8, 9 & 10 Flight Commanders Office.
11 & 12 - Petrol Installation (Aviation) .
13 - Switch House.
14 - W & B Office & Store.
15 - Photographic Hut.
16 - Gunnery Inst. & Armoury.
17 - W & B Workshops.
18 - Wireless & Bombing Hut.
19 - Lecture Hut & Photo Hut.
20 - Buzzing Hut.
21 - Depot Office.
22 - Guard House.
23 - Technical Store.
24 & 25 - Pump House.
26 - Tank (Water Storage).
29 - Latrines.
32 - Petrol Installation (M.T.).
33 - Picture Target House.
34 - Metal Workshop.
35 - M.T. Shed & Engine Test Shop.
36 Coal Yard.

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Flight Sheds.

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Under construction.

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Inside.

RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site

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16 October 2011

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RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site
Hangar 2

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Down one side are several offices of differing sizes, on the south side they were used as squadron & flight offices, these on the north side were probably engineering..

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Storage.

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Piles of paperwork.

RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site

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18 May 2018

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RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site
Hangar 2

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Now the other end showing its brick door runner piers.

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Mains electrics.

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Bomber crew suited up for war.

RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site

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16 October 2011

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RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site
Hangar 2

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The view at the front doors of the hangar. A picture before BDAC arrived. Now there are many planes parked outside here.
More on BDAC coming soon.

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BDAC.

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RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site

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16 October 2008

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RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site
Hangar 2

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The squadron and flight offices were built at the same time as the hangars, but these two buildings were added later, probably post WW2 with the one on the left a Vic Hallam type timber hut. If you have ever been taught at Durrington's senior school, you will probably have been taught in a Vic Hallam Hut (as I was). On the right a Uni-Seco Hut.



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Vic Hallam Hut.

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Vic Hallam.

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Uni-Seco Hut.

RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site

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16 October 2011

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RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site
Hangar 2

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View from the fire escape across the airfield.

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Plan.

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Austin Champ.

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RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site

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16 October 2008

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RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site
Control Tower

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A unique and unknown design, built around 1950 for the MOD as the control tower for the large amount of flying that went on from heavy transports, helicopters to small Army Co-operation Austers.

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G-OHOL..

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Tiger Moth.

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G-ONVO.

RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site

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16 October 2011

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RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site
Control Tower

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Beverley of RAF Transport Command.

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Whirlwind.

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Auster.

RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site

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16 October 2011

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RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site
Control Tower

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Control Tower with the signal square to its left.

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Signal square.

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Edgley Optica.

RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site

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16 October 2008

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RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site
Signal Square

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How it looked in 2008 but today completely covered over.
The Signal Square, or signal area, contained symbols to indicate visually to over-flying aircraft, conditions on the aerodrome. It had pre-War origins, supplementing an earlier set of ground signals and was intended for aircraft that carried no radio communications equipment (which included most light aircraft well into the 1960s).

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Signal square.

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Ground signals.

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Edgley Optica.

RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site

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10 October 2005

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RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site
Signal Square

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A tarmac square 40ft x 40ft with a concrete border to display ground signals to flying aircraft.
OS is the Airfield Code letters.

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Fire crew Summer 1962.

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Belvedere.

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Whirlwind.

RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site

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17 July 1982 Paul Francis/Control Towers

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RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site
Hangar 1 & Watch Office 1597/27

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1982 showing Hangar 1 & the early watch office.

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Plan.

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1953.

RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site

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17 July 1982 Paul Francis/Control Towers

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RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site
Watch Office 1597/27

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Nearly all early watch offices had a nice bay window allowing a good view over the airfield.
I think this Watch Office looks exactly like the RAF Tangmere's 1597/27 plan.

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RAF Tangmere's 1597/27 watch office.

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RAF Tangmere's 1597/27 watch office plan.

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RAF Shellingford double front window.

RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site

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1597/27 plan

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RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site
Watch Office 1597/27

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RAF Tangmere's plan of a Watch Office 1597/27 showing Fuel Store for coal, a Toilet, Lobby, Watch Office & a Rest Room..

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Flair gun used to worn pilots of dangers..

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Flair cartridges..

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RAF Shellingford double front window inside.

RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site

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16 October 2008

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RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site
90 - Compass Platform

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The concrete circle has no magnetic qualities at all and a plane set to point North can have its compass swung before take off.

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A Spitfire on a compass platform.

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Checking the compass.

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Adjusting the air compass.

RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site

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10 October 2005

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RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site
Aviation Fuel

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There were several aviation fuel instillations and I am not sure if this is not a post war one??

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Early fuel bowser.

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Scammell POL delivery tanker.

RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site

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16 October 2011

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RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site
Hangar 2 & 4

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The view from the airfield.

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Cierva Avro Rotorcraft 1930s would have flown from here with Army Co-operation.

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A Spitfire on the grass.

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Avro.

RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site

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16 October 2011

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RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site
Hangar 2 & 4

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The view towards the airfield.

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Be2e.

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HP 0/100.

DH4.

RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site

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18 May 2018

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RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site
Hangar 4 ARS Shed

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ARS Shed, Air Craft Repair Shed, hangars before WW2 were usually called 'Sheds'. This one is the same span as the others but is a single shed. This is where the damaged aircraft came to be repaired and serviced. They had thier own heating plants (2), and the two side sheds were, for aircraft storage (I would imagine bodies and wings not attached).

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Plan of a Be2e.

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Be2e

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RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site

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18 May 2018

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RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site
Hangar 4 ARS Shed

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The two side sheds were, for aircraft storage (I would imagine bodies and wings not attached).

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Plan:
Red     - the ARS Shed.
Yellow - the two aircraft storage.

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Aircraft repairs.

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RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site

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16 October 2011

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RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site
Hangar 4 ARS Shed

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Front door of the ARS Shed.

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Plan.

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Doors inside.

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RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site

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18 May 2018

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RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site
Hangar 4 ARS Shed

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Side view.

RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site

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15 August 2003

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RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site
Hangar 4 ARS Shed

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The two heating chambers and offices between.

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RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site

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18 May 2018

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RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site
Hangar 4 ARS Shed

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One of the two heating chambers. They would have had brick chimneys not the modern stainless steel model.

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Boiler man.

RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site

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16 October 2008

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RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site
Hangar 4 ARS Shed

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One of the two heating plant rooms. They would have had brick chimneys not the modern stainless steel model.

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Details2

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Details2

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RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site

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16 October 2008

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RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site
Oil Store & Camera Obscura

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Oil storage area with a tank in a brick retention wall.

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Oil storage gauge.

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RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site

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16 October 2011

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RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site
Hangar 4 & 3

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The tarmac between these two hangars.

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Plan.

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RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site

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16 August 2008

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RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site
Hangar 4 & 3

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Looking back over the airfield and hangars.

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RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site

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15 August 2003

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RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site
Hangar 3

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2003 the good old days when the roof was in better condition. Today they are in a very bad condition, Grade 2 listed or not that is not saving them.

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RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site

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16 October 2008

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RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site
Hangar 3

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In better days.

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Lighting.

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Lighting.

RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site

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16 October 2008

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RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site
Hangar 3

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In better days.

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Around the end of WW1.

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Roof condition now??

RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site

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16 October 2008

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RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site
Hangar 3

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Roof light.

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The principle of the Belfast Truss system.

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A new roof showing that it can be repaired.

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Detail.

RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site

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16 October 2008

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RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site
Hangar 3

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Wind bracing in the roof.

RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site

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15 August 2003

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RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site
Hangar 3

Details

You can see the gaps in the roof.

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RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site

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16 October 2008

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RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site
Hangar 3

Details

The side wall widows.

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RAF speaker.

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RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site

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16 October 2008

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RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site
Hangar 3

Details

Six large doors allowing 100ft clear span.

RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site

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09 April 2012

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RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site
Hangar 3

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Two of the set of three doors on this side.

RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site

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16 October 2008

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RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site
Hangar 3

Details

Showing the open clear span of the doors.

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RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site

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16 October 2008

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RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site
Hangar 3

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The inside supporting pillars.

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Fire Alarm.

RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site

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16 October 2008

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RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site
Hangar 3

Details

The drainage steel plates.

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Speering of Portsmouth.

RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site

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10 October 2005

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RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site
Old buildings on the west side , now removed.

Details

On the left is a Uni-Seco hut and on the right a Vic Hallam wooden type. Uni-Seco were designed in the war as first huts for the RAF and then later as housing. They were built in vast numbers and in Salisbury, many were still at the top end of the Devizes Road in the 1960's.

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Vic Hallam hutting.

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Uni-Seco hutting.

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Red     - Seco.
Yellow - Vic Hallam.

RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site

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10 October 2005

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RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site
Uni-Seco hut

Details

It would have arrived in as a flat pack on lorries with all the internal fittings.

RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site

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10 October 2005

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RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site
Battle HQ

Details

A Battle Head Quarters (Battle HQ) was to be used if the airfield was attacked by massed parachuting and Gliderborne infantry attack. The Battle HQ would co-ordinate the defence with ground troops and RAF personnel who at the time (1940/41) were armed with rifles as self defence. Local Home Guard or local county infantry regiments supplemented the defence..

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Parachute attack.

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German glider could carry about eight troops.

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Home Guard.

RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site

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10 October 2005

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RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site
Battle HQ

Details

I believe although this was a standard pillbox near by was an attached BHQ.
There were three FW/3 Type 22 pillboxes built, one remains.

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Pill box & Battle HQ.

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Underground radio room built into the castle wall of Old Sarum.

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RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site

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16 October 2008

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RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site
Squash Court

Details

Double Squash & Racquet Courts. Netheravon´s court is a 1935.

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RAF Netheravon's 1842/35 plan.

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Squash.

RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site

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16 October 2008

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RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site
Squash Court

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Plan.

RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site

16 October 2008

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RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site
Aircraft machine gun range

Details

This is where aircraft could be drawn up and the tail raised to align the machine guns & cannon.

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Plan

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Testing a Hurricanes guns.

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Spitfire.

RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site

15 August 2003

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RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site
Aircraft machine gun range

Details

I presume the wooden roof is for testing the aircraft machine guns that could be removed to test them.

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Setting up the machine gun.

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.303 ammunition.

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RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site

15 August 2003

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RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site
Rifle Range 25yd

Details

The other side is the rifle range.

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25yd range.

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Shooting day.

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Butts.

RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site

16 October 2008

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RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site

Details

The airfield. Spot the plane landing.

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Accident on the airfield.

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RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site

16 October 2008

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RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site
AM Boundary Stone.

Details

The Air Ministry before the war placed boundary stones around thier properties.

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Drawing number 13/24.

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AM±22.

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Plan of a Bath Stone War Dept. boundary stone.

RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site

15 August 2003

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RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site
FW/3 Type 22 pillbox

Details

This is the only remaining pillbox at Old Sarum out on the old Marlborough Road.

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Plan of an FW3/22 pillbox.

RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site

15 August 2003

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RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site
FW/3 Type 22 pillbox

Details

 

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The blast wall covering the door.

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Looking out of the door.

RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site

15 August 2003

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RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site
FW/3 Type 22 pillbox

Details

Inside with just rifle loopholes. Walls are around 12"- 24" thick.

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Home Guard at work.

RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site

15 August 2003

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RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site
FW/3 Type 22 pillbox

Details

At sunset.

RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site

09 September 2012

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RAF Old Sarum, Airfield Site

Details