Northrop P-61A-5-NO Black Widow Serial
42-5535 of the 422d Night Fighter Squadron.
Martin B-26C-45-MO Marauder Serial
42-107832 of the 598th Bomb Squadron.
Martin B-26B-55-MA Marauder Serial
42-96142 of the 596th Bombardment Squadron.
RAF Station Hurn is a former
World War II airfield in Dorset, England.
airfield is located approximately northeast of Christchurch; about southwest of London
- For the civil use of this facility after
1944, see Bournemouth
Opened in 1941, it was used by both the Royal Air Force
and United States Army Air Force
During the war it was used primarily as a transport and as a
1969, it has been called Bournemouth Airport, although some still refer to it as
The site was originally intended as a satellite airfield but a
decision to put down hardened runways on the low-lying land was
made in 1941.
The airfield consisted of three runways of 6,000 ft (08-26), 4,800
ft (17-35), and 3,390 ft (13-31). 30 "Frying Pan" hardstands were
constructed along with 46 "Loop" type connecting to an enclosing
perimeter track, of a width of 50 feet.
The ground support station was constructed largely of Nissen huts
of various sizes. The support station
was where the group and ground station commanders and squadron
headquarters and orderly rooms were located. Also on the ground
station were where the mess facilities; chapel; hospital; mission
briefing and debriefing; armory and bombsite storage; life support;
parachute rigging; supply warehouses; station and airfield
security; motor pool and the other ground support functions
necessary to support the air operations of the group. These
facilities were all connected by a network of single path support
The technical site, connected to the ground station and airfield
consisted of four T-2, three Beltman and 10 blister hangars. In
addition, various organizational, component and field maintenance
shops along with the crew chiefs and other personnel necessary to
keep the aircraft airworthy and to quickly repair light and
moderate battle damage. Aircraft severely damaged in combat were
sent to repair depots for major structural repair. The Ammunition
dump was located on the north side of the airfield, outside of the
perimeter track surrounded by large dirt mounds and concrete
storage pens for storing the aerial bombs and the other munitions
required by the combat aircraft.
Various domestic accommodation sites were constructed dispersed
away from the airfield, but within a mile or so of the technical
support site, also using clusters of Maycrete or Nissen huts. The
Huts were either connected, set up end-to-end or built singly and
made of prefabricated corrugated iron with a door and two small
windows at the front and back. They provided accommodation for
2,440 personnel, including communal and a sick quarters.
The airfield was opened in July 1941. It was used for Operational
fighters and paratroop training. It was closed in October 1944 by
RAF Transport Command use
used by the RAF beginning in March 1941 as a satellite to RAF Ibsley. The Communications Research Establishment's
1425 Flight with Liberators from RAF Honeybourne appears to have been the first unit to move into
Hurn in November 1941, but following the extension of the runways,
perimeter track and more hardstands in May 1942, Hurn became a
major base for support squadrons for the airborne
was No. 297 with Whitleys in June 1942 and over
the next 20 months, Hurn was host to the Albemarles, Halifaxes, Horsas and Hadrians
of Nos. 295
Squadrons and other units tasked
with airborne forces' activities.
In common with other airfields in the area, Hurn was required for
support of the cross-channel invasion
Transport Command units were moved out in February and March 1944
so that tactical fighter units could be moved in. The newcomers
were Typhoons and in the ensuing weeks Hurn became one of the major
bases in southern
England, often hosting six operational squadrons. Additionally, two
de Havilland Mosquito
night fighter squadrons were also present for much of this
Hurn was known as USAAF Station AAF-492
security reasons by the USAAF during the war, and by which it was
referred to instead of location. It's USAAF Station Code was
422d Night Fighter Squadron
On 28 June
1944, Northrup P-61 Black Widow
night fighters of the 422d Night Fighter Squadron arrived from
Scorton, where their crews had been tutored in this
particular aspect of air combat by the RAF.
The Black Widow
was a purpose-designed night fighter but, like most warplanes of
its time, was not without its 'teething troubles'. The detachment
commenced operational flying on 3 July only to return to Scorton a
397th Bombardment Group
August the 397th Bombardment Group arrived from RAF Rivenhall, equipped with Martin B-26
The group consisted of the following
- 596th Bombardment Squadron (X2)
- 597th Bombardment Squadron (9F)
- 598th Bombardment Squadron (U2)
- 599th Bombardment Squadron (6B)
The group's identification marking was a yellow diagonal band
across both sides of the vertical tailplane.
moving from Rivenhall, the group arrived without ceasing operations
and flew 72 missions from Hurn before moving to the Advanced
Landing Ground at Gorges, France, (A-26) on
19 August, with the last departures on the 30th and 31st.
Three Marauders were lost during the month's stay.
continent, the 397th struck enemy positions at St Malo and Brest and bombed
targets in the Rouen area as
Allied armies swept across the Seine and advanced
to the Siegfried Line.
began flying missions into Germany in September, attacking such targets as bridges,
defended areas, and storage depots.
struck the enemy's communications during the Battle of the Bulge (Dec 1944-Jan 1945)
and received a Distinguished
Unit Citation for a mission on 23 December 1944 when the group
withstood heavy flak and fighter attack to sever a railway bridge
at Eller, a vital link in the enemy's supply line across the
continued to support the Allied drive into Germany until April
1945, being stationed at Venlo, Holland (Y-55) on VE-Day. It returned to the
States during Dec 1945-Jan 1946, being inactivated at Camp
Jersey on 6 January 1946.
With the departure of the 397th, Hurn was used as a transitory
airfield shipping personnel and materiel to France during
September, but the following month the base was relinquished by the
USAAF and returned to the RAF.
The airfield was closed by the RAF in October 1944 and turned over
for civil use.
facility released from military control, its good approaches
attracted British Overseas Airways Corporation
(BOAC), which transferred operations there from their main wartime
base near Bristol. Hurn gradually assumed importance as the
main airport for the London area until
Heathrow was opened as London's airport in 1946.
Other civil airlines which used Hurn were KLM
In the 1950s Vickers Armstrong
built a factory complex on the north-western side of the airfield,
production ceased in the 1970s but other aviation associated
Sixty years on from the days of the Ninth Air Force, Hurn is used
for private and commercial flying, the latter on an increasing
scale over the last decade. The former factory sites are now used
by light industry as well as some aircraft servicing.
- Freeman, Roger A. (1994) UK Airfields of the Ninth: Then and
Now 1994. After the Battle ISBN 0900913800
- Freeman, Roger A. (1996) The Ninth Air Force in Colour: UK and
the Continent-World War Two. After the Battle ISBN 1854092723
- Maurer, Maurer (1983). Air Force Combat Units Of World War II.
Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN
- USAAS-USAAC-USAAF-USAF Aircraft Serial
Numbers--1908 to present