RAF Khormaksar

Royal Air Force Khormaksar or more simply RAF Khormaksar was a Royal Air Force station in Aden, Yemen. Its motto was "Into the Remote Places".[1] During the 1960s, it was the base for nine squadrons and became the RAF's busiest-ever station as well as the biggest staging post for the RAF between the United Kingdom and Singapore.

RAF Khormaksar
Air Force Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg
Aden in Yemen
RAF Khormaksar Crest.jpg
Motto: Into the Remote Places
RAF Khormaksar is located in Yemen
RAF Khormaksar
RAF Khormaksar
Shown within Yemen
Coordinates12°49′46″N 045°01′45″E / 12.82944°N 45.02917°E / 12.82944; 45.02917Coordinates: 12°49′46″N 045°01′45″E / 12.82944°N 45.02917°E / 12.82944; 45.02917
TypeRoyal Air Force station
Site information
OwnerMinistry of Defence
OperatorRoyal Air Force
Site history
Built1917 (1917)
In use1917 – 29 November 1967 (1967)
Airfield information
IdentifiersIATA: ADE, ICAO: OYAA
Elevation1 metre (3 ft 3 in) AMSL
Direction Length and surface
08/26  Asphalt

It later became Aden International Airport.


Established in 1917, RAF Khormaksar was enlarged in 1945 as the British spread their influence deeper into the Arabian Peninsula. No. 8 Squadron RAF arrived in 1927, and stayed until 1945, operating the Fairey IIIF, Vickers Vincent, Hawker Demon, Martin Maryland, Fairey Swordfish, and the Lockheed Hudson.

On 10 June 1940, Italy declared war on Britain and France, and Aden quickly became an important British base for the East African Campaign. Khormaksar launched its first combat sorties three days later, when 8 Squadron sent nine Blenheims to bomb an airfield at Assab in Italian-occupied Eritrea, across the Red Sea from Aden on 12 June. Five Vincents attacking the same airfield that night.[2] On 5 August 1940, Italy invaded British Somaliland, and 8 Squadron's Blenheims flew missions against advancing Italian troop columns. The Italians heavily outnumbered the British and Commonwealth defences, and the port of Berbera, immediately south of Aden across the Gulf of Aden, was occupied by the Italians on 19 August.[3][4]

8 Squadron continued to be based at Khormaksar equipped with Bristol Blenheims. The squadron flew Vickers Wellington XIIIs were flown from December 1943 until May 1945.[5]

In 1943 a Communication Squadron, HQ British Forces Aden Communication Squadron, was established here. It changed names twice in 1951 and 1955 before being disbanded in 1956.

In 1958, a state of emergency was declared in Aden as Yemeni forces occupied nearby Jebel Jehaf and RAF squadrons were involved in action in support of the British Army. In the 1960s, during operations around Rhadfan, the station reached a peak of activity, becoming overcrowded and attracting ground attacks by rebels. In 1966, the newly elected Labour government in the United Kingdom announced that all forces would be withdrawn by 1968.[6]

Belvedere HC.1 of 26 Squadron based at Khormaksar c. 1964

In May 1967, it was expected that planned final force levels at Kormaksar ahead of the January 1968 withdrawal would be:[7]

*The Army element, comprising Tactical Headquarters Aden Brigade, one commando, one battalion, one armoured car troop, one light artillery troop, one engineer troop and elements of the small Joint Headquarters. Total of some 1,150 personnel.

*The RAF element, comprising a squadron of Hunters and a Wessex flight (both with servicing support parties), a visiting aircraft servicing party, the Communications Centre, elements of an ATOC, movements, airfield services and elements of the Joint Headquarters. Total of some 350 personnel.

Khormaksar played a role in the evacuation of British families from Aden in the summer of 1967. The station closed on 29 November 1967.

Units and aircraftEdit

Unit Dates Aircraft Variant Notes
No. 8 Squadron RAF 1927–1945; 1946–1967 with some interruptions Frequent changes of aircraft type (see below) See below
No. 12 Squadron RAF 1935–1936 Hawker Hart [8]
No. 21 Squadron RAF 1965–1967 Douglas Dakota
Hawker Siddeley Andover

No. 26 Squadron RAF 1963–1965 Bristol Belvedere HC.1
No. 37 Squadron RAF 1957–1967 Avro Shackleton MR.2
No. 41 Squadron RAF Oct 1935 – Mar 1936 Hawker Demon Mk I To Sheikh Othman Mar-Aug 1936
No. 43 Squadron RAF 1963–1967 Hawker Hunter FGA.9
No. 73 Squadron RAF 1956 de Havilland Venom FB.1
No. 78 Squadron RAF 1956–1967 Scottish Aviation Pioneer
Scottish Aviation Twin Pioneer
Percival Pembroke
Westland Wessex
No. 84 Squadron RAF 1956–1967 Various
No. 94 Squadron RAF 1939 Gloster Gladiator I and II
No. 105 Squadron RAF 1962–1967 Armstrong Whitworth Argosy C.1
No. 114 Squadron RAF 1945 de Havilland Mosquito VI Originally used the Douglas Boston
No. 203 Squadron RAF 1940 Bristol Blenheim IV
No. 208 Squadron RAF 1961–1964 Hawker Hunter FGA.9 also 1956 detached from RAF Akrotiri
No. 216 Squadron RAF 1942 Lockheed Hudson VI detached from Cairo West
No. 233 Squadron RAF 1960–1964 Vickers Valetta C.1
No. 244 Squadron RAF 1944 Vickers Wellington XIII detached from Masirah
No. 259 Squadron RAF 1943 Consolidated Catalina IB detached from Dar es Salaam
No. 265 Squadron RAF 1943 Consolidated Catalina IB detached from Dar es Salaam
No. 413 Squadron RCAF 1942–1945 Consolidated Catalina IV detached from Koggala
No. 459 Squadron RAAF 1942 Lockheed Hudson III detached from LG227 and LG143
No. 621 Squadron RAF 1943–1945 Vickers Wellington XIII
No. 683 Squadron RAF 1951 Vickers Valetta C.1
No. 1417 Flight RAF 1958–1960 Gloster Meteor FR.9
No. 1417 Flight RAF 1963–1967 Hawker Hunter FR.10 / T.7
Aden Communication Squadron RAF 1 December 1951 – 31 August 1955[9]
Aden Protectorate Communication and Support Squadron RAF 1955–1956[10]
Headquarters British Forces Aden Communication Squadron RAF 1943–1951, became Aden Communication Squadron [11]
No. 131 Maintenance Unit March 1942[12] until 1966 Servicing Blackburn Beverley, Armstrong Whitworth Argosy, Scottish Aviation & Bristol Belvedere aircraft in 1965

No. 8 Squadron RAF was based at Khormaksar on eight occasions:[13]

No. 84 Squadron RAF were based between 1956 and 1967 and operated the Vickers Valetta, Bristol Sycamore, Percival Pembroke, Blackburn Beverley and Hawker Siddeley Andover.

See alsoEdit



  1. ^ Pine, L.G. (1983). A dictionary of mottoes (1 ed.). London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. p. 115. ISBN 0-7100-9339-X.
  2. ^ Shores 1996, p. 18–19.
  3. ^ "The Ethiopian Campaign - 1940-1941". 8 Squadron Royal Air Force, 4 September 2006. Retrieved 19 September 2012.
  4. ^ Shores 1996, pp. 45–54.
  5. ^ Halley, 1988, p. 35
  6. ^ Brian Lapping, 'End of Empire,' Guild Publishing, London, 1985.
  7. ^ Air Forces Middle East. "(extracts from) Operational Order AFME/S216/Air, dated 23 May, 1967". radfanhunters.co.uk. Retrieved 30 November 2020.
  8. ^ Jefford 1988, p. 28.
  9. ^ Lake 1999, p. 9.
  10. ^ Lake 1999.
  11. ^ Lake 1999, p. 128.
  12. ^ National Archives – A History of 131 MU: Khormaksar
  13. ^ Ashworth, Chris (1989). Encyclopaedia of modern Royal Air Force squadrons. Wellingborough: Stephens. pp. 43–45. ISBN 1-85260-013-6.


  • 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.
  • Lake, A (1999). Flying units of the RAF. Shrewsbury: Airlife. ISBN 1-84037-086-6.
  • Sturtivant, Ray, ISO and John Hamlin. RAF Flying Training And Support Units since 1912. Tonbridge, Kent, UK: Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd., 2007. ISBN 0-85130-365-X.

External linksEdit