Latitude 05°5'32"S Longitude 39°04'18"E

OPENED May 1942?


COMMISSIONED as independent command 01 October 1942


PAID OFF 31 May1944 to Care & Maintenance On books of H.M.S. 'TANA'


FUNCTION Accommodation for disembarked Squadrons, small A/C erection facilities. Torpedo facilities.


ADDRESS R.N. Air Station.


East Africa


LOCALITY The airfield lies in flat country covered with coconut trees, 13/4 miles SW. of the coastal town of Tanga, and on the SE. side of the road and railway running WSW. from that town.
Mombasa lies 72 miles NNE. and Dar-Es-Salaam 105 miles S. by E.


LANDMARKS Ras Kasone, the S. entrance point of Tanga bay, with the small island of Tanga lying one mile W.
Tanga bay, with the town of Tanga on its S. shore.
The road and railway, running WSW. from Tanga, forming the airfield's N. boundary.

The landing strips are clearly visible from the air.


ROAD AND RAIL ACCESS Access to Tanga by road and rail. Tanga is distant 1oo miles (R) from
Kilindini harbour, Mombasa, and the road is impassable to lorries during the rainy season.
By rail the distance is 300 miles (R), and the authorities are reluctant to book traffic through except as a last resort, as the journey involves a change of rolling stock.
The airfield has its own rail siding.
By sea, the distance is only 8o miles, and opportunities to send cargo occur every 2 or 3 weeks.
Kilindini harbour is equipped with deep water berths, and several 3-ton and 5-ton electric mobile cranes. A I0-ton crane and a 6o-ton floating crane are also available.


CONTROL Control Building on N. side of strip 07,1'25, near its centre.


ELEVATION 115 above M.S.L.


RUNWAYS /LANDING AREA Three intersecting landing strips hard, grass-covered soil, u/s on 3 to 6 days a year during heavy rains. Slight downward slope towards the S.

01/19 QDM. 008°/188° .... 1.150 X 200  yds.

07/25 QDM. 066°/246° .... 1660 X 200  yds.

14/32 QDM. 140°/320° .... 1600 X 195  yds.


TRACKS 30' surfaced track connecting the eastern end of the strips.
The continuation on the western side was not completed and consists of a cleared surface only.
25' surfaced tracks lead to the hangar areas.


OBSTRUCTIONS None. Coconut trees surrounded the airfield, but flying gaps have been cut in the approaches to the landing strips.
Width of landing strips is restricted by coconut trees bordering their sides.


APPROACH No special approach sector recommended.


WIND INDICATOR Two windsocks, one in the corner of the central triangular area caused by the strip intersections.




APPROACH - VISUAL By day - None 

By night - None




COMMUNICATION EQUIPMENT details mot known, but one channel exists to R.N.A.S. Nairobi, Port Reitz and Mackinnon Road..




ACCOMMODATION Living quarters in camp N.  of railway, wooden hutting with concrete floors and thatch roofs.



Officers: 197
Chiefs, P.O.s and ratings: 924
W.R.N.S. Officers: None.
W.R.N.S.  Chiefs, P.O.s and ratings: None.
Native Police: 250

(East African Military Labour Service)





COMPASS BASE One,  diameter 70'


DISPERSAL One apron, 167 x 20 yds., on E. side of the S. end of strip 01/19, and a torpedo arming point, 135 x 32 yds., on the N. side strip 07/25, close W. of  the strip intersection.

Arming point apron, 140 x 80 yds.,  in front of explosives area near S. end of strip 14/32.


HANGARS On  N. & W. sides of the airfield:


Number /Type Size Door Height Door Width
13 Mainhill 60' x 80'  17' 55'


MEDICAL Sick bay and First Aid post near control building.

Sick Quarters in camp. One 16 bed officers ward and two wards with 60 and 30 beds, respectively.


METEOROLOGICAL Office adjacent E. of Control Building. Full service by Naval personnel when station in operation.

Prevalent winds: NE. from November to ?March and SE. from April to October.
Rainy seasons: April to June and November and December. Weather is suitable for flying all the year round.


Aviation: 2 installations of 18.000 gallons capacity each, and one of 11,500 gallons capacity.
M/T: One storage tank of 2.000 gallons capacity.
Oil : Drum storage


TEST BASE Non a/c radar test base.


TEST BUTT Test butt and 25 yard range; suitable for M.G. and cannon.


WORKSHOPS One A.R.S. hangar (Bellman, 200' x 95'), one Equipping and Erection hangar (Bellman, 187' x 110'); E.R.S. (Mainhill hangar)  and workshops to two squadron scale.


Air to ground: 3 targets on Rocky Island lying off the W. tip of Yanbe Island, distant 4 miles E.
Information taken from CB 4368 B. Admiralty Handbook of Naval Air Stations Aug. 45



List of first and second line squadrons, station flight and other flying units based at this location

788 Fleet Requirements Unit

Moved here from RN Air Sect China Bay 20.05.42.
This was the remnants of the Eastern Fleet TBR Pool, relocated here to regroup, re-equip and to reform as an FRU. Moved to Mombasa/Kilindini [RAF ?], 24.06.42.


795 Eastern Fleet Fighter Pool

Formed here 24.06.42 as the Eastern Fleet Fighter Pool. Initial equipment being Martlets & Fulmars.
Moved to RNAS Mackinnon Road 19.09.42.


796 Eastern Fleet TBR Pool.

Moved here from RN Air Sect. Port Reitz 30.09.42 equipped with Albacore, Swordfish & Walrus.
Disbanded here 28.03.44.


800 Fleet Fighter Squadron

Disembarked from HMS INDOMITABLE 22.05.42.
16 ? Fulmar I. Re-equipped with Sea Hurricane Ibs.
Move to RNAS Port Reitz 08.07.42, en route to the UK.


803 Fleet Fighter Squadron

Moved here from RNAS Port Reitz 29.08.42 equipped with 12 Fulmar II. Embarked HMS ILLUSTRIOUS 07.12.42.
Moved here from RNAS Port Reitz 14.01.43, with 12 Fulmar II. Absorbed 806 Squadron 18.01.43, a/c increasing to 18 ?  Squadron disbanded here 12.08.43.


806  'A' Flt disembarked from HMS INDOMITABLE ? Martlet II.
Re-embarked INDOMITABLE 08.07.42.
Moved here from RNAS Port Reitz 20.06.42 6 ? Fulmar II.
Squadron disbanded into 803 NAS 18.01.43.


810 Disembarked from HMS ILLUSTRIOUS 18.08.42 with 15 ? Swordfish.
Re-embarked ILLUSTRIOUS  29.08.42.
Disembarked from ILLUSTRIOUS  21.10.42. 15 ? Swordfish.
Re-embarked ILLUSTRIOUS 08.12.42.


829 Disembarked from HMS ILLUSTRIOUS 18.08.42. with 12 Swordfish II ASV.
[Operated daily detachments to RNAS Port Reitz]
Re-embarked ILLUSTRIOUS 29.08.42.


877  Formed here 01.04.43 as a Fleet Fighter Unit for local defence duties.
Initial equipment 9 RAF Hurricane IIbs.
Moved to RNAS Port Reitz 06.07.43.






Click here for a list of Primary sources

Additional sources:

Meredith, A. (2011) "The Pilot and the Commando: The Interlinked Lives of Two Young Christians in the Second World War", Milton Keynes, Authorhouse


Pountney, C. (1986) "Uncle's War in the Fleet Air Arm", Penzance, United Writers Publications Ltd











View Larger Map



Tanzanian locals pose in front of a swordfish, probably from 796 squadron.  at RNAS Tanga, c.1943

Image courtesy David Bilcliffe.


Tanzanian locals dance in front of a swordfish, probably from 796 squadron.  at RNAS Tanga, c.1943

Image courtesy David Bilcliffe.





 © 2013 Tony Drury


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