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RAF Lossiemouth

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Aircraft shelters, 2006
Aircraft shelters
© Ann Burgess

RAF Lossiemouth lies to the south west of the town of Lossiemouth on the Moray Firth at the mouth of the River Lossie, and lies some six miles north of Elgin.

World War II - RAF

RAF Lossiemouth was built during World War II, between 1938 and 1939, establishing 15 Flying Training School in 1939. The location proved ideal, with the coastal position enjoying good weather, resulting in the diversion of many aircraft to the airfield, in addition to the Oxford and Harvard training aircraft stationed there.

In April 1940, the site was handed over to Bomber Command, and 20 Operational Training Unit (OTU) was formed. About the same time, RAF Milltown was constructed as a satellite to Lossiemouth. Milltown had originally been created as a bombing decoy, or Q site intended to divert enemy bombers from the Lossiemouth airfield, but the location was found to be ideal for a second airfield about five miles southwest of the first, and the site was quickly converted.

A number of operational flights were carried out from Lossiemouth, and on November 12, 1944, 9 Squadron and 617 Squadron (The Dambusters) made the final successful attack on the German battleship Tirpitz, sunk using Tallboy bombs. This mission was flown using the Avro Lancaster B.1 Special, which had one turret, the mid-upper, and some armour removed, making it highly vulnerable to fighter attack. Fortunately for the crews, circumstances on the day meant the German defenders were not deployed.

Postwar - FAA

The end of the war saw Lossiemouth's active role diminish, as did that of RAF Milltown. On July 2, 1946, RAF Lossiemouth was officially handed over to the Fleet Air Arm (FAA) of the Royal Navy, and on July 7, 1946, the station was officially commissioned as HMS Fulmar, RNAS Lossiemouth, with RAF Milltown becoming HMS Fulmar II.

HMS Fulmar provided basic training for new pilots, before they moved on to RNAS Culdrose, Cornwall, for instrument flight training. Final training, deck landing, was carried out at RAF Milltown, after which the the student pilots were permitted to use HMS Theseus, a Royal Navy Colossus-class light fleet aircraft carrier. Completed in Govan in 1944, too late to take part in the war, the carrier was used as a training ship prior to deployment to Korea in 1950.

1972 - RAF

The airfield changed hands again, when the FAA handed the station back to the RAF on September 28, 1972, when the Helicopter Search and Rescue Flight, D Flight, 202 Squadron, became the first RAF unit to return to the field.

During 1991, the station formally received the Freedom of Moray.

RAF Lossiemouth has developed and grown to become the largest and busiest fast jet base in the RAF. Home to three operational squadrons of Tornado GR4s, the Tornado GR4 Operational Conversion Unit (OCU), a Sea King Search and Rescue Flight, an RAF Regiment Field Squadron, and an RAF Regiment Auxiliary Squadron. The base also provides an extensive range of operational, logistic and administrative support functions, employing a staff of some 2,800 military and civilian personnel (2007).

2014 - 75th anniversary

RAF Lossiemouth has celebrated 75 years of service – both as an air force station and a Royal Navy base.

The station officially opened on 1 May, 1939, with the war years proving to be a turbulent beginning to its history.

The core unit throughout this period was 20 Operational Training Unit (OUT).

In partnership with the legendary Vickers Wellington aircraft, the OTU trained thousands of aircrew for front line operational squadrons above the fields of Lossiemouth.

In addition, many operational raids were launched from RAF Lossiemouth, including the sinking of the German battleship Tirpitz and participation in the thousand Bomber raids over Germany.

In 1946, RAF Lossiemouth shifted to the control of the Royal Navy, and became a Royal Naval Air Station, known as HMS Fulmar.

During this period Lossiemouth was again instrumental in training aircrew, this time for the Fleet Air Arm, using Fairey Fireflies and Supermarine Seafires.

- RAF Lossiemouth marks 75th anniversary - The Scotsman.[1]


1 RAF Lossiemouth marks 75th anniversary - The Scotsman Retrieved 01/05/2014.

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