Grade II Listing for VTO Pads and Engine Running Pens

Engine running pens and VTO blast grid at Dunsfold Airfield, Cranleigh, Surrey – Awarded Listed Building Status

The latest news from Historic England is published here:

Following the application to add the above building to the List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest, we have now considered all the representations made and completed our assessment of the building. Having considered our recommendation, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has decided to add the Engine running pens and VTO blast grid at Dunsfold Airfield to the List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest. They are now listed at Grade II.

VTO Tethering Pad during the early development tests of vertical take off and landing
Engine running pens

Please click on the link below to download a copy of Historic England’s advice report, which gives the principal reasons for this decision. The List entry for this building, together with a map, has now been published on the National Heritage List for England, and will be available for public access from tomorrow. This List can be accessed through the Historic England website.

http://services.historicengland.org.uk/webfiles/GetFiles.aspx?av=57C7E905-875A-49E1-A270-FFAC5B70BDE6&cn=06233F8A-F95E-43A7-81CC-09EBF700A043

The local planning authority will now be preparing the statutory notices required under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest.

Video: VTO Pads in use during the development of the P.1127:

DAHS Editor’s note:  This brings the total of Listed Structures on the Airfield site to 5:

Primemeads Farm – Grade II

VTO Blast Pads – Grade II

Engine Running Pens – Grade II

Royal Observer Corps Monitoring Post – Grade II

Canadian War Memorial – Grade II

Duncan Simpson

Duncan Simpson    23rd December 1927 –  7th December 2017

Duncan Simpson. Photo from Tangmere Military Aviation Museum

We very much regret to announce the death on 7th December of Duncan Simpson OBE CEng FRAes FIMechE

Duncan was at the forefront of UK military aviation for many years.  He played a key role in the development of the Hunter fighter, the Harrier and Sea Harrier, and led development of the Hawk advanced trainer also flown by the Red Arrows.

His link with Dunsfold is inextricable –   Simpson joined Hawker in 1954 and became Hawker’s Chief Test Pilot in 1970, notable that he flew the P.1127 as well as making the first flight in a Hawk.  He was Master of the Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators in 2002, and in 2011 received the Guild’s Award of Honour in recognition of his outstanding lifetime contribution to aviation.  He was also a Fellow of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots.

Latterly he  served with distinction as the Tangmere Military Aviation Museum’s Honorary President from 2007 until 2013.

His son John contacted the Heritage Society to inform us of his father’s passing:  “He died peacefully at his home on Thursday 7th December 2017 having endured severe ill health since early 2015.  We are aware of the highly valued relationship he had with all those at Dunsfold. We would very much appreciate it if you could please pass on this message to others who remember him.  Any former colleagues or close friends we would very much like to hear from.  Messages can be sent to dmssimpson@btconnect.com .     A Memorial Service is being held at St Clement Danes WC2R 1DH on Tuesday 24th April at 11am and after at the RAF Club W1J 7PY.  Any donations please to the RAF Benevolent Fund.

A Memorial Service to celebrate his life will take place at St Clements Dane’s on Tuesday, 24th April 2018″

A short profile of Duncan is here.

Crash of two RAF B-25’s at “Pallinghurst” Rudgwick 7th Jan. 1944

Collision and crash of two RAF North American Mitchell II bombers at “Pallinghurst”, Guildford Rd, Rudgwick on 7th January 1944.

Jan. 7th 13.35 hrs. North American Mitchell II, FR396, Code letter ‘K’ of 180 Squadron collided over Alfold with Mitchell II, FL682, Code letter ‘N’ of 98 Squadron. This occurred as they awaited their turn to land in bad weather after operations to bomb a target in Occupied France (180 Squadron on Primary Target a V1construction site at La Sorellerie II at 12:58hrs from 12,000ft and 98 Squadron on Alternative Target (because of cloud over the Primary) a V1construction site at Mesnil Au Val at 12:55hrs from 12,000ft). Crew members of both aircraft all killed.

Aircraft ‘K’ of 180 Squadron and ‘N’ of 98 Squadron were not noted as having or not having dropped their bomb load. Aircraft ‘B’ and ‘X’ of 180 Sqdn. and aircraft ‘V’‘P’‘S’‘U’ and ‘X’ of 98 Sqdn. did not bomb due to cloud cover obscuring the target. Each aircraft carried 8 x 500lb Medium Capacity bombs.

One Mitchell FL682 crashed 200 yds north-east of “Pallinghurst”, Guildford Rd, Rudgwick (now the Japanese Rikkyo School) on the County Boundary (nr. Stables), approx 2.5 miles south-east of Dunsfold airfield. This 98 Sqdn. aircraft had probably not dropped its bombs load due to cloud cover obscuring the target. One or more bombs exploded when the aircraft it hit the ground or fell out nearby as the aircraft descended. Other unexploded bombs were defused.

Continue reading “Crash of two RAF B-25’s at “Pallinghurst” Rudgwick 7th Jan. 1944”

Crash of 180 Sqdn. B-25 August 25th 1944

An enquiry came into the Society for information about a B-25 that ditched in the sea off Beachy Head in 1944.  Flight Officer Hodder had survived being shot down and his family were researching the details.  There were no known pictures of his aircraft Daily Delivery.

We managed to trace Daily Delivery (photo below) but the crew was not F/O Hodder’s crew.  This photo was taken a few weeks before the crash, but further research by colleagues of DAHS determined that the 180 Squadron crews rotated aircraft as operational restrictions dictated.  So the question was which aircraft was ditched in the sea? F/O Hodder’s later memoirs of the event are written below, with the Squadron ORB recording the official account.

D – Daily Delivery at Dunsfold. Informal group portrait of RAF ground staff with RAAF and Royal New Zealand Air Force air crew of a Mitchell bomber squadron, 180 Squadron RAF with the Second Tactical Air Force. Left to right: two RAF ground crew, Jock (Fitter) and Alf (Rigger); 422248 Flying Officer (FO) Jack B O’Halloran, pilot of Sydney, NSW, (later Flight Lieutenant and DFC); 417379 Pilot Officer James Crosby (Jim) Jennison (later Flying Officer and DFC) of Adelaide, SA; 422175 FO Reg J Hansen of Sydney, NSW; FO Harry M Hawthorn, RNZAF of Hastings, NZ

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Open Day for VC10 at Dunsfold

On Saturday 15th July we will be holding an Open Day at Dunsfold Aerodrome for our VC10 ZA150, which lives there. This was the very last VC10 of 54 built at Brooklands in the 1960s and was one of the last two to fly with the RAF from Brize Norton in Oxfordshire. On its retirement in September 2013 it was acquired by Brooklands Museum and flew in to Dunsfold, where a team of dedicated volunteers maintain it in running order.

Entry is by pre-purchased ticket only and the timetable is as follows:

  • 12.00-14.00 Pre-booked visitors will arrive via Stovolds Hill
  • 13.00-13.15 Taxi run
  • 13.45-15.30 Visits on board in small groups
  • Last entry to Dunsfold will be 14.00

More info at Brooklands site.

Willards Farm Spitfire Crash

A Spitfire Mk XIV of the Flying Training Wing crashed at Willards Farm Dunsfold on 19th January 1945. The pilot – Flying Officer Fisher – bailed out and was injured.

Has anyone further information and about the cause of the crash and what became of the aircraft?

Spitfire Mk XIV similar to that involved in the crash at Willards Farm Dunsfold

Mystery Mitchell Crash Summer 1944

Bill Allom has asked for some more information on a number of incidents at Dunsfold during 1944 that don’t appear in our limited records.  Bills father was stationed at Dunsfold with 180 Sqdn.

1 – The first is about a Mitchell FL 217 that crashed on landing on 20/6/1944. Bill states: I think this date is correct my ORB copy is poor and hard to read”

2 – The second query:   Bill says:  ” My father returned on a mission with the hydraulics shot out. While the ORB does not indicate the plane crashed on landing it appears to never fly again.   This occurred on 24/7/1944 in Mitchell FW 185.  Dad records 40 hits a/c badly holed, hydraulics shot up. Could the undercarriage still be lowered with damaged hydraulics?   I am unable to confirm if this aircraft returned to service or was written off.  I hope you can help solve these mysteries.”

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