DUXFORD
Station crest

Post War (1946-1974)
 
In January 1946 the Station commander, Wing Commander Alan Deere received the first post war active RAF squadrons. The first arrival, on 18 January, was 165 Squadron, which flew Spitfire LF9s. In April, 91 Squadron flew in with more Spitfires, and there was a Station Flight which used Harvards. On 8 June there was a Victory flypast over London, and the two Duxford squadrons took part. On 1 August, Duxford Spitfires flew over the US Embassy in Grosvenor Square to honour United States Air Force Day. Soon afterwards, 91 Squadron went to the training area at Lubeck in Germany. Returning to Duxford on 1 September, the squadron personnel found that 165 Squadron had been disbanded and reformed as 66 Squadron, which then took off for training at Lubeck.

A new sight and sound came to Duxford on 30 October 1946, when 91 Squadron took delivery of its first Gloster Meteor F3 jet fighter. On returning from Lubeck, 66 Squadron also began to re-equip with Meteors, and both squadrons gradually worked up on the type. In November, 91 Squadron left for Debden, which which had a paved runway more suitable for the operation of jet aircraft. On 31 January 1947, 91 Squadron was renumbered 92 Squadron and returned to Duxford from Acklington on 15 February.
 
Gloster Meteor
 
Britain's Gloster Meteor, which first took to the air in March 1943, was the only operational Allied jet fighter during the war. Successive post-war developments led to two variants. From 1950 to 1955 the F8 was the RAF's principle day fighter and was produced in greater numbers than any other version. Both 64 and 64 Squadrons at Duxford were equipped with the F8 in the early 1950s. The Armstrong Whitworth Meteor NF11 first entered RAF service in 1951 and had a lengthened nose to house the radar equipment necessary for night operations and an extra seat for the radar navigator. From August 1956 to September 1958, Meteor NF12s and NF14s were flown from Duxford by 64 Squadron. 
 
A Gloster Meteor F8 (right). This example, WK827, flew with 65 Squadron at Duxford from 1953-1957. 
65 Squadron Gloster Meteor F8
 
One of Duxford's previous residents, 56 Squadron, returned on 17 April, now also equipped with Meteors. In September, several temporary inhabitants could be seen at Duxford, from where they took part in that year's Battle of Britain flypast; they included 74 and 222 Squadrons with Meteors and 3 and 80 Squadrons flying the piston-engined Hawker Tempest fighter. By now, the more advanced F4 version of the Meteor was due to replace the F3, but trouble with Duxford's PSP runway was experienced. On 1 February 1948, 56 Squadron moved to Thorney Island and in March 92 Squadron left for more training at Lubeck. Soon it was back, and along with 66 Squadron took delivery of the first Meteor F4s at Duxford. Halfway through working up on these, both squadrons moved temporarily to Martlesham Heath to allow repair and updating work to be carried out on the runway. Once the work was complete, the squadrons returned, only to be told that the Air Ministry plans had been revised and it was thought that Duxford was no longer a suitable Station for the operation of jet aircraft. The plans were revised again and there was talk of a concrete runway being laid alongside the PSP strip. By the middle of 1949, rapid take-off and Wing formation were considered critical to oppose the threat presented by Russia's huge fleet of long-range bombers.

In June, all squadrons took part in a major exercise. This triggered the Ministry into ordering the runway to be laid at Duxford, and in October 66 and 92 Squadrons left for Linton-on-Ouse in Yorkshire. Duxford was then put on "Care & Maintenance" while funding was found for construction. Extra land was purchased at the eastern end of the airfield, which meant that the site would border directly onto Duxford village. In 1950, the contractors W. & C. French Ltd moved in and started work. The new runway was 6000 ft in length and a perimeter track and hardstandings were also provided. An Operational Readiness Platform was built as a widening of each end of the runway, and work was completed in August 1951. In addition to the runway, a new T2 hangar was built at the eastern end to give more maintenance space.
 
Royal Air Force Duxford, 1951 Royal Air Force Duxford, 1951 

A = Double-bay Belfast hangar 
B = Single-bay Belfast hangar 
E = Officers' mess 
F = Sergeants' mess 
G = Airmans' mess 
I = Sewage farm 
J = T2 hangar 
K = Control tower 
L = Jet dispersal (four groups of eight)

 
In late summer 1951, Duxford became fully operational again and two new squadrons, 64 and 65, both flying Meteor F8s, flew in and formed a new Duxford Wing. Within a month, both squadrons were taking part in the Quick Reaction Alert system which had been brought about by the fear of a direct and devastating attack on Britain by Russian bombers. So great was the apprehension that all RAF squadrons were issued with live ammunition and worked a 24-hour rota system to intercept any unidentified aircraft that entered British airspace. The exercises were so intense and regular that it became possible to get all 32 Meteors off the ground in 75 seconds.

King George VI died unexpectedly on 6 February 1952. On 15 February, the day of his funeral, there was no flying and a short service was held on the parade ground. He was succeeded by the present monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, and the Duxford Wing was chosen to lead the ceremonial flypast over Buckingham Palace on Coronation Day, Saturday 2 June 1953. Six other Wings were also to take part. The weather was very bad and the flypast was nearly cancelled, but after a short delay Duxford's Wing Commander Wallace successfully led 144 RAF Meteors and 24 Royal Canadian Air Force Sabres at 12000 ft up the Mall in line astern, as the newly crowned Queen took the salute from the balcony of Buckingham Palace.

At Duxford, two more squadrons, 3 and 67, arrived for temporary attachment, bringing Sabre aircraft (F-86 in USAF service), a type never based at Duxford. On 15 May 1954, the Wing escorted the Queen on her return in the Royal Yacht Britannia from a six-month round the world tour of the Dominions and Colonies. Spitfires had last been seen at the airfield in 1947, and it was a pleasant surprise when Station Flight received Spitfire LF16 TE357 in the summer of 1954. The aircraft was to be used for ceremonial purposes and flypasts and was entered in Station records as "The last Spitfire in Fighter Command."

In 1956 the roles of the Duxford Wing were diversified and plans were made to re-equip 64 and 65 Squadrons. By August 1956, 64 Squadron had become a night fighter squadron equipped with Meteor NF12s, and before long the updated version, NF14, was added. Early in 1957, 65 Squadron received Hawker Hunter F6s and retired its Meteors on 21 March. An accident occured on 24 January 1957 involving the Station Flight Spitfire, and it was struck off charge, but later it was replaced by a similar aircraft, SL542. That year the annual Battle of Britain day was held on 14 September, and on display was one of the very latest pieces of RAF equipment, the English Electric P1, prototype of the Lightning. At the same show, a Spitfire was demonstrated by Jeffrey Quill to mark his retirement from test flying. He had started with the Meteorological Flight at Duxford in 1933 and had gone on to become a test pilot for Supermarine on the Spitfire, flying the first operational Spitfire into Duxford in 1938, so his display was a fitting end to a long career.
 
64 Squadron Meteor NF14 night fighter From August 1956, 64 Squadron operated Gloster Meteor NF14 night fighters from Duxford. 
 
A Hawker Hunter F6 belonging to 65 Squadron.
65 Squadron Hawker Hunter
 
In September 1958 64 Squadron's Meteors were replaced by Gloster Javelin FAW7s and blast walls were built to protect them. The Javelin was the worlds first twin engine delta-wing fighter. It was designed to operate at high altitudes and in all-weathers, night or day and in fact was the RAF's main night fighter from 1956 to 1964. By the summer of 1959, the Station had settled down to a routine and life was fairly orderly. 65 Squadron managed to gain some media attention when Sqn. Ldr. Maughan took part in the Daily Mail Bleriot Anniversary Race from Paris to London. His winning time, achieved by running, riding a motor-cycle, flying in a helicopter and flying a 65 Squadron Hunter, was 40 mins 44 secs. On 20 February 1960 Wing Commander Storey, who had taken over command of the Duxford Wing, led 36 of 65 Squadron's Hunters over Buckingham Palace to celebrate the birth of Prince Andrew the day before. He led a similar formation up the Mall on 11 June to mark the Queen's official birthday.
 
64 and 65 Squadrons in 1959 Pilots, navigators and ground crews of 64 and 65 Squadrons with their Javelins and Hunters respectively, at Duxford in May 1959.
 
Hawker Hunters of 65 Squadron and a Gloster Javelin of 64 Squadron over Duxford in May 1959. Note the new T2 hangar to the east of the Belfast hangars (bottom right in picture). 65 Sqn. Hunters and a 64 Sqn. Javelin
 
Exactly 25 years on from the Jubilee Review of 1935, 64 and 65 Squadrons both celebrated 25 years service. A double ceremony was held at Duxford on 6 July 1960 and Marshal of the RAF Sir William Dickson was called upon to present their standards to the squadrons. Dickson had himself flown in the 1935 flypast, 25 years ago to the day.
 
Shortly afterwards 64 Squadron's Javelins were replaced with later Mk9s with re-heat, but Duxford's days as a RAF station were numbered. The Air Ministry considered extending the runway but due to the condition of the buildings on the airfield and the cost of refurbishment or replacement, the plans were dropped. Also, Duxford's location was no longer favourable because changing defence requirements were turning Britain's fighter umbrella northwards. It was decided that Duxford no longer had a future with the RAF and a decision was made to close it. 65 Squadron was disbanded on 31 March 1961 and Station Flight followed in May, the ceremonial Spitfire going to Coltishall. 64 Squadron moved to Waterbeach on 28 July, and three days later Air Vice Marshal R N Bateson, who had led 613 Squadron's Mosquitoes on the raid on the Gestapo HQ at The Hague in 1944, took off in a Meteor NF14, thus bringing to an end 43 years of service by Duxford to the RAF and USAAF. On 1 October RAF Duxford was transferred to Flying Training Command, but was quickly vacated.
 
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    *in association with Duxford Aviation Society and Cambridgeshire County Council. The contents of this UNOFFICIAL website does not in any way reflect the opinions or ideas of any owner or operator present or past involved with the location popularly known as Duxford Airfield.