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Manston

Military site : airfield

Built for Royal Naval Air Service use in the First World War, it was both an RAF and Fleet Air Arm base from 1918-50, and after the war a USAF Strategic Air Command base from 1950-51, a United States Air Forces Europe base from 1950-58, an RAF station again from 1958-1999. Since 1989 it has been known as Kent International Airport.

Detailed history

Built for Royal Naval Air Service use in the First World War, it was an RAF base from 1918-50. In Spring 1943 work started on a huge runway, 3000yds long and 250yds wide, with 500yd grass overruns at either end, created as an Emergency Landing Ground for Allied aircraft in distress. It opened in April 1944 and was much in use by both 8th and 9th Air Force. So much so that Detachment A of 16th Mobile Reclamation and Repair Squadron, USAAF, was stationed there from August 1944 to 12 May 1945.
After the war a USAF Strategic Air Command base from 1950-51, a United States Air Forces Europe base from 1950-58, an RAF station again from 1958-1999. Since 1989 it has been known as Kent International Airport.

English Heritage's record description

A former military airfield used in both World Wars and the Post-War period. It was first opened in 1916. During World War Two the airfield was used in the Battle of Britain as a fighter airfield by 11 Group Number 604 and 600 Squadrons. By 1944 the airfield had a single very broad 3000 yard long runway with dispersals and hardstandings to the north side. There were reused World War One hangers and Blister type aircraft hangars, the fate of these is unknown. A World War Two decontamination centre is still extant. At least part of the accommodation for personnel was semi permanent in nature. From 1969 to 1999 part of the airfield was run by civilian airlines. The site now houses two adjacent museums, the Manston History Museum and the Spitfire and Hurricane Memorial Building, run by the MoD. The former museum was established in what was the airfield's Motor Transport Section's garage, in 1997. The Memorial building was purpose built. The RAF station closed in 1999 but the airfield continued to be used for further flying as a civilian airport

Service

People

  • George Aguayo

    Military | Technical Sergeant | Radio Operator | 389th Bomb Group
    Killed in Action (KIA) 1 December 1943 on mission to Solingen, B24#42-40793 'Blonds Away' was damaged by fighters and exploded while trying to land.

  • Marvin Alford

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Right Waist Gunner, Waist Gunner | 445th Bomb Group
    Damaged by flak in the Bombardiers station and the left rudder enroute to V-sites in France on 15 Feb 1944, B-24H #42-7559 'Kelly' returned to England and crashed upon landing at RAF Manston, Kent. RTD. Shot down 1 April 1944 in B-24 #42110029. Result...

  • Lewis Allen

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Bombardier | 91st Bomb Group The Ragged Irregulars
    Prisoner of War (POW). 17 August 1943 in B17 42-5712 'My Prayer' on mission to Schweinfurt, Germany, ac attacked by fighters. With a/c afire, 7 of the crew bailed out near Frankfurt. Pilot Judy, Copilot Lays and Engineer Cherry stayed with the a/c and...

  • Robert Applin

    Military | First Lieutenant | Pilot | 466th Bomb Group
    Our pilot, Bob Applin, was a natural leader and an excellent pilot. - Barky Hovsepian, R/O Complete a 35 mission tour

  • George Arvanites

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Navigator | 303rd Bomb Group
    Hit by flak just after bombs away on a mission to Wizernes, FR on 26 Mar 1944, B-17G #42-31929 'Tennessee Hillbilly' crashed N of Sr Olmer after the crew baled out. Prisoner of War (POW). ...

  • Frederick Austin

    Military | Flight Sergeant | Pilot
    Flight Sgt Frederick Carleton Austin (1918-1942), born Omaha, Nebraska, U.S.A.; prior to the war was employed as an Investigator by Pinkerton Detective Agency; enlisted Royal Canadian Air Force, 30-8-40; carried out his pilot training at No. 8 F.T.S. ...

  • Charles Baiano

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Ball Turret Gunner | 91st Bomb Group The Ragged Irregulars
    Prisoner of War (POW). 17 August 1943 in B17 42-5712 'My Prayer' on mission to Schweinfurt, Germany, ac attacked by fighters. With a/c afire, 7 of the crew bailed out near Frankfurt. Pilot Judy, Copilot Lays and Engineer Cherry stayed with the a/c and...

  • Arthur Barks

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Navigator | 445th Bomb Group
    Shot down 22 December 1943 in B-24 #427555, 'Lizzie,' on the mission to Osnabruck. Killed in Action (KIA). Under heavy attack from fighters, after bombs away, a 20mm shell went into the nose of the bomber, exploding in Barks' stomach and killing him....

  • Robert Barrier

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Pilot | 384th Bomb Group
    Assigned to the 384th Bomb Group, 546th Bomb Squadron on AAF Station 106 Special Orders #243 dated 11 December 1944, as crew Pilot, one combat mission. Awards: PH.

  • Ralph Bass

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Waist Gunner | 392nd Bomb Group
    Shot up by fighters and exploded and crashed near RAF Manston, Kent on the return from a mission to the last resort target of Helmstedt of 20 Feb 1944 in B-24H #42-7529 'Coral Princess'. Killed in Action (KIA).

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Aircraft

  • 42-31484 'Mairsy Doats'

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 11/11/43; Kearney 10/12/43; Presque Is 14/12/43; Assigned 545BS/384BG [JD-F] Grafton Underwood 20/1/44; 546BS [BK-F]; battle damaged Gerolstein 27/12/44, crash landed Manston; 9KIA; Salvaged 28/12/44. MAIRSY DOATS.

  • 44-40468 Mean Kid

    B-24 Liberator
    On 14 June 1944, the 34th Bomb Group flew a mission to bomb Cambrai-Epinoy airfield in France, in support of Allied ground troops in Normandy. “Mean Kid”, a brand new B-24 on its fifth mission, was severely damaged by enemy fire over Antwerp. Unable to...

  • 44-40239 Flying Jackass

    B-24 Liberator
    "On a second mission the same day, 2nd Lt. Richard P. Rice returned over the U.K. with THE FLYING JACKASS (44-40239) badly shot up and the hydraulic system out. He landed at Marston without incident, but the next day a Lancaster came down on top of the...

  • 42-52644

    B-24 Liberator

  • 42-75271

    P-47 Thunderbolt
    Salvaged due to battle damage on 21 May 1944

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
03 September 2019 12:47:31 Emily Changes to english heritage description
Sources

Historic England National Monument Record TR 36 NW 238

Date Contributor Update
12 August 2016 16:04:22 Lucy May Changes to person associations
Sources

Connected up to airmen's records which mention Manston.

Date Contributor Update
15 November 2014 14:45:17 MikeO Changes to history
Sources

Correction to runway width

Date Contributor Update
11 November 2014 22:50:13 MikeO Changes to history
Sources

Information on RAF's Emergency Landing Grounds of WW2

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:02:17 AAM AAM ingest
Sources

Barry Anderson, Army Air Forces Stations (Alabama, 1985) / Chris Ashworth, Action Stations 9: Military Airfields of the Central South and South-east (Cambridge, 1985)

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