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DEBDEN AIRFIELD

ALTERNATIVE NAME:  CARVER BARRACKS, RAF DEBDEN, USAAF STATION 356
DESCRIPTION + /

A former military airfield, opened in 1937 and closed in 1975. This airfield is today recognised as a key site in Britain's military aviation heritage. Construction by W L Fench Limited began in 1935 and continued through to 1940 when the station was already open. It was designed as base for fighter aircraft, initially the two landing surfaces were grass, replaced with concrete in 1940. During the Battle of Britain, the base played a vital role as one of Group 11's sector stations- this was the group that bore the brunt of the air battle. The base was bombed and raided twice in August 1940. Eight RAF fighter squadrons served at the base in addition to 51 Operational Training Unit (in 1941). In 1942 the base was transferred to American use, as United States Army Air Force Station 356. It was then the home of 71 Eagle Squadron, which later became 334th, 335th and 336th Squadrons of the 4th Fighter Group. Late in 1944 616 Squadron of the Royal Air Force used the airfield for new Meteor (jet) aircraft. The airfield then became a Royal Air Force Technical Training School and later became the British Army's Carver Barracks. Today the site is considered so important beacuse it features a largely intact defensive perimeter and flying-field with associated blast pens, representing one of the most complete fighter landscapes of the Battle of Britain period.

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