How can you help?

Dunsfold Airfield History Society is keen to encourage you to help us preserve the valuable and unique heritage that is Dunsfold Airfield.

How can you help?

You can do so in a number of ways:

  1. You can become a free member of the Society by subscribing to this website with a simple email registration.
  2. You can add to the information on this website, via the comments sections, the forum, or by contacting us directly.
  3. You can support our recent submission for the Aerodrome to be designated a Conservation Area.  Conservation Area status is a vital step to protecting the buildings and structures from further decay.

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Type T2 Hangars

T2 “Black” Hangers 1980s

By 1940 with the rapidly increasing development of large-span bomber aircraft, it became obvious that the pre-war standard RAF transportable hangar known as the Bellman Shed was rapidly becoming obsolete. As a result, the Air Ministry in collaboration with Teesside Bridge & Engineering Ltd, developed a series of end-opening hangars known as Type ‘T’. The first design was the T2 and like the others in this family it is built of a series of standard steel-fabricated lattice wall and roof units of welded-and-bolted construction. The complete framework is clad with galvanised corrugated iron, 22-gauge for the roof and 24-gauge for the walls. T2 were designed by the architect AE Cotton.

General Eisenhower addressing Airmen of 320 Squadron in 1944 in the T2 Hangar at Dunsfold

Additional knee bracing and wind loading braces appear to be contemporary modification using T2 components. The doors have six leaves either side that open the full width.

T2 Hanger with Skyways operations 1948
Folland Gnat in T2 Hangar Dunsfold possibly around 1967
T2 Hanger 2016
Top Gear Studio 2016

There are two T2 Hangers on the Dunsfold site.  The western end of the westernmost “black hangar” (that is actually green) is the current venue for the BBC Top Gear studio.

T2 Hanger 2016
T2 Hanger 2016
T2 Hanger 2016
T2 Hanger 2016

Please note: The aerodrome is private land and an active airfield. Access is not permitted to some of the buildings and features and we strongly discourage access without permission.

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Engine running pens – Listed Grade II

The engine running or detuning pens were originally built to test the aircraft engines for the Hunter.

Three pens were arranged in a curve. One has been completely removed.

Of the two remaining; the unique example survives that was used to test all ‘jump jets’ or VTOL. The VTOL pen is lined with metal sheeting and sound absorption. Channels below ground take extract for the jets nozzles. Historical significance is for the development of the ‘jump jet’, P1127 through to the Harrier. All aircraft engines were tested and run here before being assembled and shipped worldwide.

The two engine running pens were given Grade II Listed Building status in December 2017.  Historic England’s detailed Listing report

The first P.1127, XP831, in the ground running pen at Dunsfold with Rolls-Royce representative John Vowles in the cockpit.  Photo courtesy BAE Systems via Brooklands Museum
Pen Construction 1960’s: BAE Systems via Brooklands Museum
Hawk 200 in Engine Running Pen (1980s) (courtesy Brooklands Museum archive)
Engine Pen exhaust. Photo Alec Bryan
Engine running pens
Harrier ZB604 in the engine pen.
Continue reading

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Compass Swing Base

Circular concrete platform marked out in degree divisions accurately aligned with local magnetic north. The aircraft is placed on the pad in a series of angular positions and the reading of the aircraft’s magnetic compass is compared with the true heading on the pad. The aircraft system is then adjusted to match and any unresolvable residual errors are recorded. This process is called ‘swinging the compass’. A magnetic compass on an aircraft is influenced by the magnetic materials and components in the aircraft. Nearly all airfield had such bases, but they are now rare due to commercial pressures for space.

Compass swing base



Please note: The aerodrome is private land and an active airfield. Access is not permitted to some of the buildings and features and we strongly discourage access without permission.

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VTO grids – Listed Grade II

Photo courtesy of BAE Systems via Brooklands Museum

The main runway has the unique Vertical Take Off Grids, known as VTO Grids or Hover Grids – used for the tethering of jump jets such as the Harrier whilst hovering. These are located on aprons that adjacent the main runway and are within the Operational Readiness Platform [ORP].  Beneath these gratings is a large void chamber to take the hot air, condensation and gases from the downdraft of the jet engines of the aircraft. Within the eastern Engine Testing Pen there is a similar arrangement that is a unique feature to Dunsfold.

Continue reading

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Bomb Stores Site

Dunsfold Bomb Stores Plan

The Bomb Stores Site has two access roads with seven concrete hard standings in between and earth banks separating each hard standings or bays. These bays were used to store the bombs which were placed on wooden frames. The earth banks that separated each bay gave a degree of isolation should there be an accident and these are still visible. Continue reading

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A1 Hangar

3 x Type A1 Hangars – large end opening aircraft repair hangars which were erected on ‘Base’ type operational bomber stations and aircraft factory airfields. Here stand three Type A1 hangars erected side by side. They were relocated from their original WWII site to meet the needs of Hawker Siddeley Ltd in 1953. The type A1 hangars were designed by T Bedford Consulting Engineers, a manufacture funded by the Ministry of Aircrafts Production.

Used by British Aerospace for Harrier production and testing.

1st Hawk 200 ZG200 Photo: Andy Lawson, BAe Systems

Harrier. Photo Andy Lawson BAe Systems

A1 Hangers paintshop 2016



Please note: The aerodrome is private land and an active airfield. Access is not permitted to some of the buildings and features and we strongly discourage access without permission.

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Fusing Point Building

16ft span Nissen Hut located within the WWII Bomb Stores Site. A concrete roadway splits and enters the structure to allow the bomb ladened trolleys to be fused ready for deployment before being taken to the aircraft.

Fusing Point Building

Fusing Point Hangar, former bomb store. (Compare with view from 1943 below.) Photo Dave Yoxall

ROYAL AIR FORCE: 2ND TACTICAL AIR FORCE, 1943-1945. (CH 12840) A bomb train leaves the ordnance-store at Dunsfold, Surrey, for loading into North American Mitchells of No. 2 Group for an attack on flying-bomb sites in northern France, (‘Noball’). Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205210537


Please note: The aerodrome is private land and an active airfield. Access is not permitted to some of the buildings and features and we strongly discourage access without permission.

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