Latitude 50°25′20″N   Longitude  04°06′32″W

   

ACQUISITION

Civil aerodrome requisitioned by the Admiralty  September 1939
 

OPENED

September 1939
 

COMMISSIONED

September 1939 'on Books of DRAKE' RN Barracks, Devonport
 

PAID OFF

01 May 1942. Transferred to RAF 15 group control.
 

O.I.C.

Sub-iLeut. (A) P. O'M. Hears OCt 1940
Lieutenant (A) P. C. Roberts Jan 1941
 
 
 

FUNCTION

Accommodation for disembarked squadrons
 

ADDRESS

R.N. Air Station
Roborough,
Roborough Aerodrome,
Crown Hill,
Plymouth,
Devon
 

LOCALITY

4 miles NE. of Plymouth
 

LANDMARKS

Kits hill Chimney 12 miles E.
City of Plymouth 4 miles SW.
 

ROAD AND RAIL ACCESS

Rail access at Plymouth North Road station, GWR  & SR services.
 
   

 

   

CONTROL

Control Building located on SE side of the airfield.

 

ELEVATION

 480' above M.S.L.

 

RUNWAYS /LANDING AREA

Irregular grass surface.

Landing areas:

S - N  800 X 100 Yds.
NE- SW 900 x 100 Yds.
SE - NW 600 x 100 Yds.

 

TRACKS

None

 

OBSTRUCTIONS

Navigation

None.

Circuit

None.

Approach

Woods at S. & SW. boundary of the airfield.

 

APPROACH

No special approach recommended.

 

WIND INDICATOR

 
   
   

HOMING - VISUAL

By day:

None.

By night: None.
 

HOMING--RADIO

D/F:

M/F, H/F and VH/F.

Beacon: None.
 

APPROACH - VISUAL

By day:  

None.

By night:
 

COMMUNICATION EQUIPMENT

 M/F and H/F

? transmitters, ? receivers

VH/F  ? transmitters, ? receivers.
 

GROUND RADAR

None

 

   

ACCOMMODATION

Living quarters

 

Capacity:

Officers:

Unknown.

Chiefs, P.O.s and ratings:

336

W.R.N.S. Officers:

None.

W.R.N.S.  Chiefs, P.O.s and ratings;

None.

Figures based on RAF use

ARMOURIES

 

 

COMPASS BASE

 

 

DISPERSAL

1 concrete hardstandings with 3 brick walled pens.

 

HANGARS

Hangars located on SE side of the airfield.

 

Number /Type

Size

Door Height

Door Width

1 x Blister 45' x 45' - -
4 x Civilian ? ? ?
 

MEDICAL

 

 

METEOROLOGICAL

 

 

FUEL AND OIL

Aviation:

Not known.

M/T:

Not known.

Oil :

Not known.

   

TEST BASE

None.

 

TEST BUTT

None.

 

WORKSHOPS

 

 

EXPLOSIVES

 

 

BOMBING AND FIRING RANGES

 

Air to air

 

Air to ground and R. p. Firing

 

Live and practice bombing

 

Practice bombing

 

Assault training

 
   
   

 

 

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

 

BRNC Air Exp Flt

Britannia Royal Naval College Air Experience Flight
Began operations in early 1961. Became the RN Grading Flight and later the Royal Naval Flying Training Flight.
Equipped initially with Tiger Moth, replaced by Chipmunk in 1966, and finally Grob 115E Tutors in 1994.

 

727

Royal Naval Flying Training Squadron
Formed here 06.12.2001 by elevating the Royal Naval Flying Training Flight to squadron status. Moved to RNAS Yeovilton January 2007.
Equipped with Grob 115E Tutors.

 

801

Fleet Fighter Squadron
Moved here from RAF Southampton 26.07.1937. Returned to RAF Southampton 09.08.1937.
Equipped with Ospreys

 

810

Torpedo, Spotter, Reconnaissance Squadron
Moved here from RAF Southampton 26.07.1938. Returned to RAF Southampton 09.08.1938.
Equipped with Swordfish Is

 

814

Torpedo, Spotter, Reconnaissance Squadron
Disembarked from HMS ARK ROYAL 28.08.1939.
Embarked in HMS HERMES 01 - 20.09.1939.
Re-embarked in HMS HERMES 03.10.1939.
Moved here from RNAS Worthy Down 25.01.1940.

Re-embarked in HMS HERMES 10.02.1940.
Equipped with Swordfish Is

 

815

Torpedo, Spotter, Reconnaissance Squadron
Disembarked from HMS ILLUSTRIOUS 12 - 21.06.1940.
Equipped with Swordfish Is

 

819

Torpedo, Spotter, Reconnaissance Squadron
Moved here from RNAS Ford 27.05.1940. Embarked in HMS ILLUSTRIOUS 11.06.1940.
Detachment (6) from ILLUSTRIOUS operated here 16 - 20.06.1940.
Equipped with Swordfish Is.

 

 

 

A temporary airstrip on a former polo field was first used in September 28th 1923 but operations ceased after only one month. In 1929 the Air Ministry acquired or rented part of the site and Royal Engineers from the Plymouth Garrison turned the polo field and two fields adjoining in to an aerodrome.
The polo ground, which bordered the Plymouth to Tavistock road, was nearly 700 yards long and 300 yards wide. The two smaller fields lay to the east, alongside the road from the George Hotel to Plym Bridge. About 300 yards of the high bank and hedge that divided the polo ground from the fields was demolished and replaced by a temporary wire fence that could be removed when the RAF wanted to use the site. The hedge between the two small fields was also removed. A number of trees at the north-western edge had to be removed and the telegraph wires that ran alongside the main road were re-laid underground to give clear access.

The site was only required for a couple of days each week during June, July and August for important air co-operation exercises to be carried out between the Royal Air Force, the Royal Navy and the Army and was not intended to be a permanent RAF airfield. The work was completed on June 6th 1929.

The site was licensed as an aerodrome in 1930; it was also chosen to become a civic airport and Plymouth City Council bought the site at Roborough for £20,478. After further development the aerodrome was officially opened by HRH the Prince of Wales on July 15th 1931. The site had four small hangars, and during the 1930s was used by the Plymouth & District Aero Club, and Great Western Railway, Railway Air Services, Channel Air Ferries and the Great Western & Southern Air Lines and Jersey Airways. One of these was a unique in that its design had the control tower on top of the roof.

The first resident RAF unit arrived in June 1939 when No.15 Group Communications Flight formed here with single examples of the Miles Magister, Vega Gull and Envoy plus two Walrus amphibians. This was followed by No.46 Elementary & Reserve Flying Training Squadron formed here on August 1st equipped with Hart and Audax aircraft but moved to Portsmouth on September 2nd.

 


RN use of the airfield

The first use of Roborough by a Fleet Air Arm squadron was on July 26th 1937 when the Opsreys of 801 Fleet Fighter Squadron arrived from RAF Southampton for a fortnight of Army, Navy and Air Force joint exercises. They returned to RAF Southampton on August 9th. A year later on July 26th the Swordfish of 810 Torpedo, Spotter, Reconnaissance Squadron arrived from RAF Southampton for the year’s fortnight of Army, Navy and Air Force joint exercises, returning to RAF Southampton on August 9th.

The next arrival was 814 TSR (Torpedo, Spotter, and Reconnaissance) Squadron which disembarked their Swordfish from the Fleet Carrier HMS ARK ROYAL on August 28th 1939, three days before War was declared with Germany.

 


Commissioned as an RN Air Station

The aerodrome was requisitioned by the Admiralty shortly after the declaration of War with Germany and opened as RN Air Station Roborough. It was not given as ship’s name but its accounts were carried in HMS DRAKE, the Rn Barracks in Plymouth.

814 squadron embarked in Fleet Carrier HMS HERMES on September 1st disembarking again on the 20th. They finally departed on October 3rd, re-joining HERMES. They returned in the New Year, arriving back on the station from RNAS Worthy Down on January 1st 1940, only to re-embark in HMS HERMES on February 10th.

The station was quiet until May when the Swordfish of 819 TSR Squadron arrived here from RNAS Ford on May 27th. They embarked in the Fleet Carrier ILLUSTRIOUS on June 11th but a detachment of 6 aircraft returned to operate ashore on the 16th, re-joining the ship on the 20th. A second Swordfish TSR squadron from ILLUSTRIOUS, 815, arrived the station on June 12th, re-embarking on the 21st. They were the last Fleet Air Arm unit to operate from Roborough during the war.

From August 1940 RAF units only operated from the station: No. 247 squadron reformed here on August 1st 1940, equipped with Gloster Gladiator II biplanes they were tasked with the defence of the south west of England including the ports of Plymouth and Falmouth. They re-equipped with Hurricanes in February 1941; during this month No. 19 Group Comms Flight which arrived on the 5th operating various aircraft types. They were joined by No. 10 Group ASR (Air Sea Rescue) Flight flying Lysanders on April 1st. They were joined by Lysanders and Walrus aircraft from October 1941 when a detachment from 276 ASR squadron arrived. A detachment of Lysanders from No.16 tactical reconnaissance squadron used the station during 19041 and 1942.
 


Returned to RAF Control

By the spring of 1942 Roborough was no longer required for use by the RN and the station was transferred to the Air Ministry on May 1st 1942.

 

 


Post-Wart RN use of the airfield

Early in 1961 the Britannia Royal Naval College Air Experience Flight was formed at Roborough to provide flying for Dartmouth officer cadets and to grade those aspiring to become pilots in the Fleet Air Arm. Operated by Air Work Services Ltd. the Flight used initially used Tiger Moths until these were replaced by Chipmunks in 1966. In 1994 the flight re-equipped with five new Grob 115E Tutors and continued operating as the RN Grading Flight and later the Royal Naval Flying Training Flight. On December 6th 2001 the flight was elevated to squadron status, being commissioned as 727 Royal Naval Flying Training Squadron. In January 2007 the squadron moved to RNAS Yeovilton to continue operations ending the Fleet Air Arm’s long association with Roborough.

 


 

 

Click here for a list of Primary sources


Additional sources:

 

Admiralty Fleet Orders:

 

Confidential Admiralty Fleet Orders:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aerial view of Roborough showing the layour of the aerodrome and the landing strips.
 

 

 

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