RAF Weston Zoyland

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Bishop

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Weston Zoyland airfield was opened in 1926 to be used in conjunction
with the anti-aircraft gunnery range at Doniford. It was really just a
temporary grass stip base used in the summer months, there were no
buildings so visiting units would use tents and set up camp.

Krela and Norman by the contol tower.



In early WW2 the airfield was expanded but continued to be used as
a training base for the ranges at Lilstock and Steart. The base was
home to a number of aircraft used for target tugs for pilot gunnery
training.

16 Squadron arrived in late 1939 with Lysanders. 9/40 Weston Zoyland
became a permanent RAF station and was the main area for Army co-
operation squadrons with Lysanders, Masters, Martinets then Mustangs
(5/42).

Parachute store.



A general improvement of the airfield was started in the spring of 1943
including the provision for tarmac runways. With the tarmac runways
built the station could be used by pretty much everything the RAF
had, in 43 (?) WZ was used by RAF Transport Command Warwick
aircraft until 2/44.

Control tower interior.



The United States Army Air Force arrived in 1944 for glider and
parachute training in preparation for D-Day.
6/44 American 442nd Troop Carrier Squadron (303rd, 304th, 305th and
306th) arrive with C-47 transport aircraft (Brits called them Dakotas).
The Americans after their training were posted to Italy for the invasion
of Southern France.

Boilerhouse?



Post War, several fighter squadrons temporarily posted to WZ, station
is on care and maintenance by 1947.

Reopened in 1952-58 for training crews on Meteor fighters, Vampire
fighters and Canberra bombers. The station was retained until 1968
but had no flying units for a number of years.

WW2 Airfields page, lots of pics.
http://worldwar2airfields.fotopic.net/c713140_13.html

Somerset Historic Environment Record page. Lists everything
there with descriptions, location etc.
http://webapp1.somerset.gov.uk/her/details.asp?prn=11275

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saul_son

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Nice one mate,looks good! My kinda chillout solo UE this!!

Before the pics uploaded I thought you'd made the name up,lol!

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Bishop

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Thanks Saul_Son, yeah Weston Zoyland is an odd name but thats
Somerset for you, all sorts of weird and wonderful names for places
such as Huish Episcopi or Trikey Warren etc.


Found this on a RAF page, I'm guessing this squadron would have been
flying Canberras a twin engined medium bomber.

15 October 1955
No.308/5 Air Task Force, later redesignated 308.5 Task Group, is formed at RAF Weston Zoyland, under the command of Group Captain S.W.B. Menaul, to participate in the British atomic test at Monte Bello Island, off the northern coast of Australia.

Canberra bombers, also used by the Yanks and Australians.





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saul_son

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For nuclear weapons tests, if they were air deployable weapons, the RAF would have more likely to have used the AVRO Lancaster or Lincoln, the Valiant may have been in service by 1955, but I don't think the Canberra had a big enough bomb bay for the large A bombs such a Blue Danube. I may be wrong though,lol!

Some right weird names you've got down there:lol:

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Bishop

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You know your stuff Saul_Son, I can't say I know an awful
lot about the Uk's atomic weapon development so I did a
quick bit of research.

Right the first RAF aircraft to drop an atomic weapon was the
Vickers Valiant in 56, I googled Group Captain S.W.B Menaul
and found this.

In 1955 he was appointed the Air Task Group Commander for the British Atomic Tests at Maralinga in Southern Australia (Operation Buffalo). He actually flew aboard Valiant WZ366 on 11 October 1956 when it dropped Britain's first atomic bomb.

Above is from here.
http://www.rafweb.org/Biographies/Menaul.htm

Vickers Valiant landing at Filton, Bristol in 1961.



Canberras could carry small nukes but not until about 1958.
Short history of Britains nuclear weapon testing, bottom of
the page lists aircraft and what weapons they could carry.
http://www.keconnect.co.uk/~defcon/history.htm

Canberras were used in atomic tests, wouldn't catch me
volunteering to fly through an atomic cloud, bugger that.

14 October 1953
The second British atomic test, Totem/T1, takes place when a 10 kiloton atomic weapon is detonated on top of a 31 metre tower. In Operation Hotbox, an English Electric Canberra entered the atomic cloud 6 minutes after the explosion to assess the behaviour of the aircraft and the effects of the cloud on the crew. Subsequently, between 1952 and 1958 RAF squadrons operating modified English Electric Canberras were called upon to conduct extensive sampling sorties in support of the United Kingdom's atmospheric nuclear test programme.

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Bishop

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Hey Saul_Son, yeah part of the airfield is still in use but only
for small stuff like Cessnas and Microlights.
http://www.westonzoylandflyingclub.co.uk/

Approach shot of WZ.
http://ukga.com/aerodrome/content.cfm?aerodromeId=1493&contentId=1686

Heard a meaty grumble in the distance when we were walking over to
the control tower, could see a fast moving shape a few miles away
and we all thought it was a stunt plane like a Pitt Special or something
like that. Turned out to be a Supermarine Spitfire in D-Day invasion
stripes, it got closer and closer to the airfield until it was about a
mile away, pilot was pretty good he did loads of spectacular aerobatics
lots of loops and rolls etc. Merlin engine makes such a brilliant noise.

Old pic I swiped off the net.


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