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RAF Zeals was a wartime Royal Air Force station in Wiltshiremarker.

The station was sited to the north of the village of Zealsmarker, next to the village of Stourtonmarker and the Stourhead estatemarker.

The station was only in operation from 1942 to 1946. In that time it was successively occupied by the Royal Air Force, the United States Air Force and the Royal Navy.

From opening until August 1943 the site was used by the RAF as a base for Hawker Hurricane and Supermarine Spitfire fighters.

In August 1943 it was transferred to the United States Army Air Force with the intention of using the airfield for maintenance of C-47 Skytrain transport aircraft. However, the damp conditions prevented e operation of heavy aircraft so P-47 Thunderbolt fighters were flown from Zeals instead.From March 1944, it returned to the RAF who used it as a base for de Havilland Mosquito fighters against German bombers.

Following D-Day, the RAF used the airfield for military glider training in preparation for action against Japanmarker. In April 1945 the base was taken over by the Royal Navy (as HMS Hummingbirdmarker or RNAS Zealsmarker) who used the airfield for aircraft carrier training.

The site was closed down from January 1946 and in June it was returned to farmland. As of 2006, the control tower, now a private house, remains on Bells Lane in Zeals.

A memorial stands at nearby Beech Knoll in Stourton to mark the site where a Dakota transport plane crashed in February 1945, killing more than twenty people. The aircraft had taken off from Zeals airfield to return to Lincolnshiremarker after two weeks of glider training and flew into some cloud-covered beech trees on the knoll.

See also

Squadrons operating



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