View Full Version : RAF Manston

13th Feb 2007, 14:59
Anybody have any info on RAF manston when it was about or any old photos?

16th Feb 2007, 09:09
I don't know whether this is true but I was led to believe that the runway does not face the prevailing winds but 'faces' Germany. This was so that beat up aircraft on their way back from WW2 missions could come straight in if they needed to.

There is a mirriad of underground tunnels and rooms still in existance.

16th Feb 2007, 14:20
In the old days (!) before the tarmac went down, the prevailing grass runway was 24/06 which of course is predominantly into wind. When they laid the tarmac it was realigned to 27/09

16th Feb 2007, 17:25
Almost correct. The main runway is now 10/28 but before that it was 11/29. The 24/06 runway is not currently used.

17th Feb 2007, 04:04
I remember Manston well just after the war finished. My scout troop camped just outside the airfield and a couple of us enterprising (and very foolish) 12 year old's got under the fence and walked over to see the Spitfires. We didn't see the Spitfire on short final until he went around just above our heads.
I recall stepping carefully over the huge FIDO pipes and then a guard came belting over the horizon armed with a Lee-Enfield and told us in no uncertain terms to get the hell out of there. At the time I didn't at first understand his words of "Piss-Orf" but the pointing of his rifle helped with the message.

17th Feb 2007, 09:46
Often hear about this type of tunnelling ect, let's hope that some enterprising chap is keeping a photo record of them all, we found one or two of them at Sturgate back in the seventies before the local farmer began his digging opearations, mostly full of junk and water though and dozens of cases of old spark plugs of all things.. :confused:

PPRuNe Pop
17th Feb 2007, 10:44
I well recall amid my IR training in the late 60's doing GCA approaches at Manston. ATC would always accept such as a good method of training. Talk down was to 1/2 mile. I fine airfield with a fine history.

Many years later I did a real GCA approach at Goose Bay in blinding snow all the way to the ground. Then the 'Follow Me' found us and did a good job to get us to the stand.

3rd Mar 2007, 16:00
What sqn's were based at the turn of 70's? Would anybody know?

India Four Two
4th Mar 2007, 11:13
Here's a good book for you:

RAF Manston in Old Photographs

ISBN 1-84013-196-9

Published by:

Universal Books Ltd
The Grange
Kingsnorth Industrial Estate
Hoo, Nr. Rochester
Kent ME3 9ND

4th Mar 2007, 13:22
I've landed at Manston a number of time when transitting back from Germany to the UK, for fuel and Customs. I was once flying with a pilot on attachment from the US Army; on hearing the accent, Radar offered us the 'scenic tour', via the chunnel workings, and other picturesque parts of East Kent. Despite my best efforts to dissuade him, he accepted, and we took the long way round, which gave HM Custom & Excise plenty of time to drive up from Dover to meet our duty-free laden Lynx. :ugh:

4th Mar 2007, 15:28
Hangar 9 wrote "What sqn's were based at the turn of 70's? Would anybody know?"
Surely you could have googled for info, it only takes seconds.
Anyway try wikipedia for an easy to read history.

9th Mar 2007, 08:29
It used to be one (of two?) RAF airfields that could lay a foam strip for aircraft with undercarriage problems to land on. ISTR that (for a helicopter) a GCA onto the westerly runway (29?) had the UK's, if not the world's lowest BOH on a PAR - 50 feet on QFE!

And some at least of the Customs men were very friendly to westbound Wessex full of duty-free.......:ok:

I think by the 70s there was only the SAR Flight there. IIRC it was the first location (in the UK) to operate the Wessex in the SAR role.......

Edited to add: I should say the first RAF Wessex on SAR in UK before RN or Bristows veterans complain.;)

9th Mar 2007, 09:53
Also 617 Gliding School (ex Hendon) and an AEF (7?)

9th Mar 2007, 11:05
Other "Crash Strips" were at Woodbidge in Suffolk and Elvington in Yorkshire. The runways were much longer and wider than was then (WWII) normal.

9th Mar 2007, 11:54
Elvington was a standard three-runway airfield until re-worked in the 1950's to a single long runway. Carnaby was the FIDO strip in Yorkshire, just inland and to the South of Bridlington.

9th Mar 2007, 11:58
Not Elvington but Carnaby near Bridlington. Elvington was one of the selected SAC bases extended post war but I don't think the USAF ever moved in (like Bruntingthorpe).
The three emergency runways were 3,000 yards long and 150 yards wide giving 3 parallel landing strips on each one, the technique being to use one for landing, then if it got blocked by a crash, use the next one til that got blocked, then use the third, by which time the first should have been bulldozed clear - literally! There was no intention to recover crashed aircraft for possible re-building you see.

9th Mar 2007, 21:12
FIDO was a bit more widespread than just Manston, Woodbridge and Carnaby.

Coastal Command certainly had FIDO at St Eval.

I believe that Bradwell Bay, Downham Market, Fiskerton, Foulsham, Graveley, Ludford Magna, Melbourne, Metheringham, Sturgate and Tuddenham also had FIDO installed to help out Bomber Command.

10th Mar 2007, 07:34
FIDO (Fog Intense Disposal Of) was developed by the University of Birmingham. I thought it was initially tested at Blackbushe but cannot find a record of it at the moment.

Kieron Kirk
10th Mar 2007, 07:56
FIDO-Fog Investigation and Dispersal Operation.

Excellent book on the subject "Flying Through Fire" Geoffrey Williams, Grange Books ISBN 1-85627-900-6 1995.

henry crun
10th Mar 2007, 08:18
Roly Beaumont in "The Years Flew Past" mentions being diverted from Manston because of fog, to Bradwell Bay which also had fog, and where he was given his first GCA and landing on a Fido lit runway.

10th Mar 2007, 14:27
The FIDO channels at Blackbushe are still there, at least partially, and the petrol tanks at Manston were still there during my only visit in 1988.

Didn't St Merryn also have it? Arthur C. Clarkes autobiographical novel 'Glidepath' seems to indicate it did, and it would seem logical being on the Atlantic coast probably with the same weather that affects St. Mawgan/Newquay International. Incidentally I've read eslewhere that FIDO stood for Fog INTENSIVE Dispersal Operation, so what's the correct name?
Someone re-invented it a few years back using butane or propane, but I don't think anyone installed it; probably the cost outweighed the extra revenue possible.

10th Mar 2007, 19:49
chevvron included......
"Someone re-invented it a few years back using butane or propane, but I don't think anyone installed it; probably the cost outweighed the extra revenue possible."
Aviate 1138 adds
Was lucky enough some years ago to be flying up and down the Western USA in a North American B-25.
One of the airfields we used was Arcata /Eureka, an ex US Navy airfield I think and certainly one of the foggiest in the USA. The threshold of the 32/14 being on the cliff top. In 1980 the pipe/trenches were still visible.
Must have been an erie sight to approach between two walls of flickering flame!
Aviate 1138

11th Mar 2007, 10:01
I read a report once which said that the sight was most impressive, (I've seen film of it too) then you hit the turbulence caused by the updraughts from the flames! The proposed 'gas' system was an air heating system I think, so that just hot air was emitted from the pipes rather than naked flames.
I used to have fun years ago in foggy weather with one of our assistants by saying 'have you got some matches? (he was a smoker) Can you nip out and light the FIDO?'
So was the system at Arcata a petrol or gas system? (Thinks - Thread creep!!)

11th Mar 2007, 10:49
chevvron - "So was the system at Arcata a petrol or gas system? (Thinks - Thread creep!!)"
As it was the USA I am sure it was US Gas or Petrol as we say. Pipe diameter was too small for a hot air system, I think - surely they would have just burnt gas as they did petrol? Bet they had problems with gas/air ratios and huge backfires as they turned it off!!! At least the pilots could see what they had to avoid. Wouldn't want to fly over superheated air in the dark anyway!
Returning to the thread about Manston, can't see why a runway would be aligned to suit returning bombers, they must have returned from quite an arc? Surely it would be prevailing wind/landscape parameters? ie longest possible/widest runway etc.
Aviate 1138

31st Mar 2007, 10:29
For those interested in the earliest years of Manston, there is a book entitled "Wings Over Westgate" (Author Geoffrey Williams, published by the Kent County Library) which is the history of RNAS Westgate. The book outlines the very baptism of Manston as a night landing ground with a small detachment from RNAS Westgate. RNAS Westgate was subsequently abandoned and some of the buildings and equipment transferred to Manston.

According to the book, the first recorded use of Manston was by Flight Lieut. Horace Austin Buss in a BE2c on 19 March 1916. The book also contains a small map entitled "Manston Naval Air Station" that is marked "Secret" and is dated August 1916.

31st Mar 2007, 18:23
Don't forget up to about '73 or '74, there was an airport at Ramsgate, about 2 miles from Manston and almost on its centreline.

1st Apr 2007, 05:59
Google 'Old Ramsgate' and open the first one that shows up and click on "Out of town" link.
Nice pics. Can't post the url as Pprune objects for some reason.
Aviate 1138

PPRuNe Pop
1st Apr 2007, 06:18
Henry! It's Beamont! := ;)

henry crun
1st Apr 2007, 07:44
Oh dear, it has been a good day up until now :{

8th Apr 2007, 12:05
Title: - RAF Manston Album
Authors: RAF Manston History Club
Publisher: Sutton Publishing 2001
ISBN: 0 7509 2913 8

This combines in one edition two previously published books:
RAF Manston published 1993 (Now Part -1)
RAF Manston Another Selection published 1994 (Now Part 2)
All Sutton have done is put the two books in one cover!

However a amazing range of pictures from the earliest days (including coverage of Westgate - First Manston Picture is from 1916) to the near present.

23rd Apr 2007, 19:47
As far as I recall 7 AEF were always at Newton until they moved to Cranwell

Out Of Trim
24th Apr 2007, 00:23
RAF Manston hosted No1 AEF.

19th Nov 2009, 03:43
During my time there (1970 - 1974), Manston hosted -

No1 Air Experience Flight (Chipmunk)
617 Gliding School (Slingsby T31 and T21)
RAF Airport Fireman Training School
Bristow Helicopters (Westland Whirlwinds - took over from 22 Sqn detached flight on SAR duties)

Invicta Airways (2 x DC4's, then some Vanguards - 3 x I think?)

1 x Piper Aztec - I think it was somehow tied in to the Invicta operation.
1 x Piper PA-18-150 Supercub (flown in from South Africa by the owner, a chap named Vladimir Mukalov) and parked in the middle of the airfield - it never seemed to blow away in high winds.

The most frequent visitors were old tailwheel Shackeltons destined for 'strip and burn' duties with the Fireman School, mostly ex-120 Sqn from St Mawgam who were re-equipping with Nimrods.

Also the mid-week nightly drone of Varsities doing instrument and nav training from Topcliffe?

And of course various 'diverts' in snotty weather plus a few users of the foam carpet.

The summer months used to bring the Red Arrows down from Kemble for the weekend (training), which always seemed to swell the ranks of available local crumpet in the Mess whenever they were there.

They were nice years.


20th Nov 2009, 08:37
In 1988, the best coffee I ever tasted was at No 1 AEF; closely followed by Rotterdam Airport Departure lounge. At this time, the RAF had re-taken the SAR task, and Kent Radar (operated by a NATS controller in the RAF tower) was still in operation.

India Four Two
21st Nov 2009, 15:11
there was an airport at Ramsgate, about 2 miles from Manston and almost on its centreline.

Not quite, it was about one mile off the centreline, but my school (Chatham House) was very close. A wonderful assortment of aircraft to be seen on two mile final back in the days when Manston was no longer USAF, but was a Master Diversion Aerodrome. I remember cycling from Broadstairs to Manston to take what was probably my first aircraft picture - the Spitfire gate guardian. It is interesting that I remembered it as a low-back bubble-hooded Spitfire, but actually it was a Mk. XVI TB752, now at Rochester.

I have a soft spot for Ramsgate Airport - my first flight was from there. An extended circuit in a Rapide for 7/6d! The pictures that aviate1138 referred to can be seen here: Old Ramsgate (then and now): Out of Town and Miscellaneous... (http://is.gd/50p85) and more from the same set of 1930s pictures are here Aviation Archives for Thanet and Kent (http://is.gd/50pzq). It's a shame that the wonderful Art Deco terminal was demolished to make way for an industrial park.

Out Of Trim
22nd Nov 2009, 15:53
The Spitfire gate guardian. It is interesting that I remembered it as a low-back bubble-hooded Spitfire, but actually it was a Mk. XVI TB752, now at Rochester.

Not quite.. TB752 was fully restored at Rochester to pristine condition and went back to RAF Manston in 1979. Where it is now housed in a purpose- built Gate Guard Memorial Building from 1981 onwards.

I was serving there in ATC 1979 - 1982.

India Four Two
23rd Nov 2009, 13:23

I was obviously not paying enough attention when I was reading the website about TB752. I'll have to drive down to Manston next time I'm in Kent.

Incidentally, in this picture (http://www.spifirememorial.org.uk/images/spit08.jpg) there is a Javelin in the background. When did that arrive and what happened to it?


23rd Nov 2009, 13:35
Some of the first tests of the FIDO concept were in the bed of either Queen Mary or Datchet Reservoir near Staines/Heathrow. My Dad was one of the frire brigade crews on safety duty for them.

I knew Manston well in the late 60s. As the only Plt Off then Fg Off on 360 I was also for a while the only "White Card" - always seemed to get launched on Friday afternoon for a 3 hour navex to keep the flying hours "above the line" (circuits and instrument approaches would have been more use but produced fewer flying hours), and then get weather-diverted from foggy Norfolk, almost always to Manston - after a while I started taking an overnight bag on Friday navexes, and there was no great queue of navigators to fly with me as they were not looking for a weekend away either.

Out Of Trim
23rd Nov 2009, 15:57
The Javelin was there before my time - I've seen one photo dated 1971. It was apparently; sadly scrapped in 1990.

This was more like I remembered it:-

Ah, just found the answer to when it arrived at RAF Manston..

11/05/1967 XH764 C Javelin FAW9R 29 Sqn Suffered a heavy landing at Manston, Kent. Damage was only slight but with the impending withdrawal of the type it was allocated to 7972M and was put on display there. It had been en route to 27MU Shawbury store.

23rd Nov 2009, 21:13
Chevvron - I think you are right about FIDO at St Meryn. My mother was stationed there during the war and I remember her talking about it.

26th Nov 2009, 16:51
Back to Manston. My log book tells me that we used to clear customs/refuel at Manston when bringing a Canberra back from Akrotiri to UK in 1964/5/6.
In February 1966 we got a grade 1 diversion from Manston to Lossiemouth due to fog/snow etc. So fido wasn't working then, if it had it probably would have frightened me silly.
Looking back of the 3 crew no one knew anything about Lossie or even where it was ,apart from, Scotland so we tried these new radar thingies and were picked up by Southern radar and handed over all the way to PAR at Lossie. Wonderful. We didn't even have any charts north of Leeming either!!:ok:

30th Nov 2009, 10:24
This was photo of GAOVS was taken on the 12th March 1976 when we were operating a series of animal flights to Milan Malpensa for Invicta.