Unit History: RN Air Station Zeals

RN Air Station Zeals
RAF Zeals was a Royal Air Force station, to the north of the village of Zeals, next to the village of Stourton and the Stourhead estate in Wiltshire
The site operated between May 1942 and June 1946, and during this short time was occupied by the Royal Air Force, the United States Air Force and the Royal Navy (as HMS Hummingbird or RNAS Zeals)
Until August 1943 the site was used by the RAF as a base for Hurricanes and Spitfires. The site was taken over in August 1943 by the United States Army Air Force whose initial plan was to use the airfield for maintenance of C-47 Skytrain transport aircraft. However, the damp conditions prevented heavy loads so P-47 Thunderbolt fighter aircraft were flown from Zeals instead. From March 1944 the airfield returned to the RAF who used it as a base to launch Mosquito fighter planes against incoming German bombers. Following D-Day, the RAF used the airfield for glider training in preparation for action against Japan, and in April 1945 the base was taken over by the Royal Navy who used the airfield for aircraft carrier training.
The site was closed down from January 1946 and in June it was returned to farmland. As of 2006, the control tower, now a private house, remains on Bells Lane in Zeals.
A memorial stands at nearby Beech Knoll in Stourton to mark the site where a Dakota transport plane crashed in February 1945, killing more than twenty people. The plane had taken off from Zeals airfield to return to Lincolnshire after two weeks of glider training and flew into some cloud-covered beech trees on the knoll.

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