City of Norwich Aviation Museum

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The airfield at RAF Horsham St Faith was developed in 1939 and opened in June 1940 as a base for Bomber Command. The base was developed with five C Type hangars, permanent brick and tiled buildings with central heating and accommodation buildings, all built to a high pre-war standard.

Although initially used by Bristol Blenheims detached from nearby RAF Watton, the station hosted fighter squadrons equipped with the Spitfire and Boulton Paul Defiant before once again returning to its role as a bomber station initially housing Blenheim IV’s of 114 Sqn before 105 Sqn arrived while still training on the new de Havilland Mosquito.  Operations began with this legendary aircraft from June 1942 with photographic and bombing sorties over Germany.

CNAM 56th FG

Horsham St Faith was made available to the USAAF from September 1942 as AAF Station 123 and would become home to a number of USAAF units between 1942 & 1945 including the famous 56th Fighter Group, who moved onto the site in April 1943. It was decided that Horsham St Faith would become a heavy bomber station and work began to enlarge the site to accommodate the larger aircraft. As the work began, the 56th FG were relocated to Halesworth, a move that was deeply unpopular with the group who had grown accustomed to the modern facilities at Horsham St Faith and now found themselves living in somewhat more austere and muddy surroundings!

This work saw the construction of new hard standings, concrete runways, and a new perimeter track before the 458th Bombardment Group (Heavy) arrived in January 1944 equipped with the B-24 Liberator flying its first combat mission on 24th February. Flying a total of 240 missions, the group flew its last combat mission on 25 April 1945, losing 47 aircraft in combat.

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After the war the station was returned to the Royal Air Force and as a front line station was home to a number of aircraft types including RAF Mustang III’s, Gloster Meteor’s, Bristol Sycamore and Westland Whirlwind helicopters as well as the Gloster Javelin.

RAF Horsham St Faith was in use until it was decided to close the station on 1st August 1963. The story of this station could have ended there, however it was decided that the site was suitable for a commercial airport. Now known as Norwich International  Airport, the site still retains many of the former wartime buildings that have now been converted for other uses including the of the five pre-war hangars.

Today the City of Norwich Aviation Museum is located on part of the former RAF Horsham St Faith. This museum tells the story of the Eighth Air Force’s time at Horsham St Faith and also houses many other displays dedicated to telling the story of Horsham St Faith as well as other local bases such as RAF Sculthorpe and RAF Coltishall. There are a number of excellent aircraft exhibits, many of which are accessible to the public on open days.

 

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Old Norwich Rd, Horsham St Faith
Norfolk NR10 3JF
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