Includes R.N. Air Section China Bay and
R.N.A.M.Y. Clappenburg Bay
R.A.F. Station China Bay opened 01.08.1938 with lodger
facility for RN Air Section. from August 1940. Station
transferred to Admiralty 15.11.1944.
01.08.1940 on Books of 'LANKA'
01..071943 on Books of
01.01.1944 as 'BAMBARA'
31.12.1847 to C & M
Returned to R.A.F. 05.1950
R.N. Aircraft Maintenance Yard.
Reserve aircraft storage.
Fleet Requirements Unit (733 Squadron)
No. 4 M.A.T.M.U.
R.N. Air Section
R.A.F. Station China Bay
R.N. Air Station,
R.N. Aircraft Maintenance Yard, Clappenburg Bay,
The R.N. Air Station is situated on the W. side of
Trincomalee harbour, on the neck of the peninsula which
separates the harbour from Tambalagam bay on the W.
Trincomalee, on the E. side of the harbour, lies 3 miles
Trincomalee harbour and the town of Trincomalee with the
Naval base adjacent S.
The peninsula, on which the airfield is situated, separating
Trincomalee harbour from Tambalagam bay.
Great Sober Island, at the entrance to the inner harbour,
lying ½ mile E. of the airfield.
ROAD AND RAIL ACCESS
Main road and rail communication with China Bay and
The distance by road to Trincomalee is 10 miles (R).
Railway stations at China Bay, distant ½ mile (R), and at
Trincomalee, both on the Colombo-Trincomalee broad gauge
At Clappenburg Bay, a pier with 15' of water alongside,
fitted with a 10 ton crane, is available.
Control Building on SE. side of landing area
10' above M.S.L.
One, tar macadam, with a sub-base of 6-inch broken stone
on consolidated earth foundation.
06/24 QDM. 062°
.... 2,400 x 50 yds.
80' taxiways connect the end of the runways and give
access to dispersal areas, hangars and Aircraft
"Short" type rubber buoys in Malay Cove.
Two slipways each connected to a Bellman hangar, on the
S. side of Malay Cove. The easterly slipway is suitable
for small marine craft only, but the westerly one is
capable of working large flying boats.
Hill (493), distant 3 miles NW.
Hills: (3541, 2200 yds. NNW. ; (234'), on Great
Sober Island, 2100 yds. E. ; and (362'), 1800 yds. SE.
W/T masts, zoo', moo yds. NW. of " 06 " end of runway.
W/T masts (alt. 150') and (230'), 600 yds. SE. and 1400
yds. ESE. respectively of the "24" end of the runway.
Normal approach is either from the NE. or SW.
In both cases the approach, over water, can be made low.
Two windsocks, one on S. side of airfield, one on hangar
on S. side of Malay Cove. the eastern approach to the
HOMING - VISUAL
H/F and VH/F
251 MS, YG & YJ.
APPROACH - VISUAL
APPROACH - RADIO
R.A.F. ASV. beacon H.T.
M/F & H/F
8 transmitters, 8 receivers.
3 transmitters, 3 receivers.
Fighter direction using G.C.I. and Interrogator.
Camps at Natchykanda promontory, TambalagamBay, at
Clappenburg Bay and in Headquarters buildings.
There is also accommodation for W.R.N.S.
Chiefs, P.O.s and ratings:
W.R.N.S. Chiefs, P.O.s and ratings;
Stocks to provision 8 squadrons of all types, except A/C
fitted with R.P.
One, diameter 80'.
Dispersal areas, on SE. and NW. sides of airfield, are
at present being re-sited and re-modelled to suit R.N.
needs [R.A.F. layout]. Existing facilities, 20
heavy A/c standings. Parking area for 200 single engined
Two Bellmans, at the head of the two seaplane slipways
on the S. side of Malay Cove. One large hangar on SE
side of the airfield.
2 Bellman ..
175' X 95'
I Type "C" ..
300' X 150'
Main Sick Quarters at Clappenburg bay and in
Limited accommodation at Natchykanda Camp.
Full service by Naval personnel.
Weather conditions are governed primarily by the
December to March (NE. Monsoon). Flying conditions in
the vicinity of
the airfield are to a large extent governed by the
strength of the monsoon ; when ‘it is strong, skies are
generally overcast, cloud base is low, and rain is often
heavy and persistent—especially in December and January
; when it is weak clear or partly cloudy skies are
common. Cloud amount averages about 6/10 in December and
January and 3/10-4/10 in February and March ; there is
little diurnal variation. Rain falls on 12-16 days per
month in the first two months decreasing to 3-4 days per
month in February and March.
April to May. Conditions are generally good apart from
thundery squalls which are common in May and sometimes
reach gale force. Cloud cover is similar to that during
the latter half of the NE. Monsoon season, hut with a
considerable increase in amount during the afternoon and
June to September (SW. Monsoon). Flying conditions near
the airfield are generally good in June and July ; there
is little rain, and cloud amount averages 5/10 in the
forenoon increasing considerably in the afternoon and
evening. In. August and September showers and
thunderstorms occur on 4-7 days per month.
October to November. Conditions are often unfavourable.
Thundery squalls are common in October and rain,
sometimes heavy and persistent, falls on 13-17 days in
each of these months. Cloud amount, which is a maximum
in the afternoon and evening averages about 6/10.
Visibility in all seasons is good except when reduced by
heavy rain, and sometimes in the early morning from
November to January when light mists may occur.
FUEL AND OIL
90,00o gallons in two installations.
Three further installations with a total capacity 72,000
gallons are projected.
Installation with capacity of 18,000 gallons at the A/C
9,500 gallons (including A/c. Maintenance Yard).
8,000 gallons. In addition 4,000 gallons at A/c
A/c Radar base projected.
Test butts for M.G. and for cannon available.
A double Class "B" Aircraft Repair Yard with Torpedo
Workshops (later reclassified as an Aircraft Maintenance
Yard) situated on the W. shore of Clappenburg Bay, about
one mile SE. of the Control Building and connected to
the airfield by taxi-tracks. There are 6 hangars in the
Yard, types and sizes not known.
Visiting A/c. park subject to change.
BOMBING AND FIRING RANGES
Air to air
Air to ground
Above are all at R.A.F. range Nileveli
Note: Seaplane hangars and facilities in Malay
Cove are in use by R.A.F.
Information taken from CB 4368 B. Admiralty Handbook
of Naval Air Stations Aug. 45 and B.R. 1807 Dec 48.
List of first and second line squadrons, station
flight and other flying units based at this location
RAF China Bay is still being used as the Air Force Academy of the Sri Lanka Air Force. Area is smaller. Clappenburg is outside the Academy and the WRNS quarters now abandoned. Runway was extended slightly and very much in use. Slipways were later used to facilitate boat repairs and remembers of the racetracks leading from Malay cove and Clappenburg could still be made out by a discerning eye.