Royal Air Force Station Acklington, simply known as RAF Acklington, is a former Royal Flying Corps and Royal Air Force station located 3.2 miles (5.1 km) south west of Amble, Northumberland and 8.8 miles (14.2 km) north east of Morpeth, Northumberland.

RAF Acklington
RAF Southfields
RFC Southfields

RAF type A roundel.svg Air Force Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg
Personnel of 'B' Flight, No. 409 Squadron RCAF, pose for a formal portrait with one of their Beaufighter Mk IIs at Acklington, January 1942. CH4903.jpg
'B' flight, No. 409 Sqn RCAF with one of their Bristol Beaufighters in January 1942.
Airport typeMilitary
OwnerMinistry of Defence
OperatorRoyal Flying Corps
Royal Air Force
LocationAcklington, Northumberland
Built1916 (1916)
In use1916–1920
1938–1975 (1975)
Elevation AMSL95 ft / 29 m
Coordinates55°17′46″N 001°38′04″W / 55.29611°N 1.63444°W / 55.29611; -1.63444Coordinates: 55°17′46″N 001°38′04″W / 55.29611°N 1.63444°W / 55.29611; -1.63444
RAF Acklington is located in Northumberland
RAF Acklington
RAF Acklington
Location in Northumberland
Direction Length Surface
ft m
05/23[1] 5,700 1,740 Asphalt
01/19[1] 4,554 1,390 Asphalt
12/30[1] 3,624 1,100 Asphalt

The airfield was operational initially from 1916 being used by the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) and from April 1918 its successor the Royal Air Force (RAF) before being closed in 1920 however it was reopened in 1938 being used by the RAF until 1972. After 1972 the site was turned over to Her Majesty's Prison Service for the creation of two new prisons.


First World WarEdit

Acklington was an aerodrome during the First World War and known as Royal Flying Corps Station Southfields.[2]

Second World WarEdit

The airfield was reopened on Friday 1 April 1938 being renamed to RAF Acklington where No. 7 Armament Training Station was formed which on 15 November 1938 transformed into No. 2 Air Observers School. During September 1939 the school moved to RAF Warmwell and the airfield was handed over to RAF Fighter Command as part of 13 Group where it became a sector airfield.[3]

The following squadrons were at some point posted or attached to RAF Acklington:[4]

On 3 February 1940 three Hawker Hurricane fighters from 43 Squadron at Acklington intercepted and shot down a Luftwaffe Heinkel He 111 bomber at Whitby. The formation was led by Flight Lieutenant Peter Townsend. It was the first German aircraft to fall on English soil in World War II (although it was not the first to be shot down in the United Kingdom, that having occurred in Scotland). The intercept was based on a plot by operators at RAF Danby Beacon, a radar station about ten miles west of Whitby. Townsend visited the German rear gunner in hospital the next day, and visited him again in 1968 when Townsend was writing his highly-successful book about the Battle of Britain, "Duel of Eagles," which recounts the incident in detail.[5]

On 21 October 1942 well known test pilot Gerry Sayer departed from RAF Acklington in a Hawker Typhoon to test a gunsight during gun firing into Druridge Bay Ranges, and was accompanied by another Typhoon. Neither aircraft returned and it was assumed that they collided over the bay. Sayer was replaced as Gloster's chief test pilot by his deputy, Michael Daunt.

Battle of BritainEdit

RAF Acklington was home to the following squadrons during the Battle of Britain:

October 1940–1945Edit

The following squadrons were at some point posted or attached to RAF Acklington:[4]

Postwar useEdit

The following squadron were at some point posted or attached to RAF Acklington:[4]

Airfield unitsEdit

The following units were at some point posted or attached to RAF Southfields/Acklington:[2]

Current useEdit

RAF Acklington closed in 1975 and the main camp became the site of Acklington and Castington prisons.[2] These have since been amalgamated and transferred into private ownership and are simply known as H. M. P. Northumberland. The airfield is virtually unrecognisable today having been subjected to open cast coal mining.

See alsoEdit



  1. ^ a b c Delve 2006, p. 26
  2. ^ a b c "Acklington (Southfields)". Airfields of Britain Conservation Trust. Retrieved 11 December 2012.
  3. ^ "RAF Acklington". The Wartime Memories Project. Archived from the original on 27 September 2012. Retrieved 11 December 2012.
  4. ^ a b c Jefford 1988, p. 153.
  5. ^ Peter Townsend, Duel of Eagles, (New York, Simon and Schuster, 1970), pp 7-8.
  6. ^ "Battle of Britain history of No. 72 Squadron". Royal Air Force. Retrieved 11 December 2012.
  7. ^ "Battle of Britain history of No. 79 Squadron". Royal Air Force. Retrieved 11 December 2012.
  8. ^ "Battle of Britain history of No. 32 Squadron". Royal Air Force. Retrieved 11 December 2012.
  9. ^ Jefford 1988, p. 35.
  10. ^ "Battle of Britain history of No. 610 Squadron". Royal Air Force. Retrieved 11 December 2012.
  11. ^ Jefford 1988, p. 99.


  • Delve, Ken. The Military Airfields of Britain: Northern England: Co. Durham, Cumbria, Isle of Man, Lancashire, Merseyside, Manchester, Northumberland, Tyne & Wear, Yorkshire. Ramsbury, Wiltshire, UK: The Crowood Press, 2006. ISBN 1-86126-809-2
  • Jefford, C G (1988). RAF Squadrons. A comprehensive record of the movement and equipment of all RAF squadrons and their antecedents since 1912. Shrewsbury: Airlife. ISBN 1-85310-053-6.
  • Stewart, Elizabeth (2002). RAF Acklington. Amble, Northumberland, UK: Amble Social History Group..

External linksEdit