Unit History: RAF Cottesmore

RAF Cottesmore
RAF Cottesmore is a Royal Air Force station in Rutland, England, situated between Cottesmore and Market Overton. The station houses all the operational Harrier GR7 squadrons in the Royal Air Force, and No 122 Expeditionary Air Wing.
 
RAF Cottesmore opened on 11 March 1938. The station was used mainly for training, and the first squadrons were equipped with Vickers Wellesley aircraft, but soon converted to Fairey Battles. Later RAF Bomber Command took over the airfield, again as a training station, flying Handley Page Hampdens.
 
These units remained in residence until a few days before the outbreak of war in 1939 when they were sent to RAF Cranfield to serve as a pool providing replacements for combat losses. Their place at Cottesmore was taken by Nos. 106 and 185 Squadrons, with Handley Page Hampden, moving in from RAF Thornaby.
 
 
Early Wartime Use
However, with the outbreak of war, the aircraft and crews were sent to locations in the north and west, as enemy air attacks were expected over the southern half of England. As these never materialised, the Hampdens returned in the spring of 1940 and No. 185 Squadron became the Hampden operational training unit, No. 14 OTU.
 
Cottesmore’s Hampdens’ first trespass into hostile airspace was a leaflet dropping operation over northern France. In October 1940, No. 106 Squadron moved to RAF Finningley while No. 14 OTU remained training crews for Bomber Command, its Hampdens and HP.53 Herefords being replaced by Vickers Wellingtons in 1942. Training continued for three years and three months until August 1943 when No. 14 OTU moved to RAF Market Harborough.
 

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