RAF Breighton

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RAF Breighton
Breighton Airfield
Ensign of the Royal Air Force.svg

Breighton Airfield and Aeroplane Museum.jpg

Breighton Airfield and Aeroplane Museum
Owner Air Ministry 1940-1964
Private 1964 – present
Operator Royal Air Force 1940-1964
Private 1964 – present
Location Breighton, East Riding of Yorkshire
Built 1940 (1940)
In use 1942-1964 (1964)
Elevation  AMSL 20 ft / 6 m
Coordinates 53°48′07″N000°54′49″W / 53.80194°N 0.91361°W / 53.80194; -0.91361 Coordinates: 53°48′07″N000°54′49″W / 53.80194°N 0.91361°W / 53.80194; -0.91361
East Riding of Yorkshire UK location map.svg
Airplane silhouette.svg
Location in East Riding of Yorkshire
Direction LengthSurface
11/2900 Grass
00/0000 Asphalt

Royal Air Force Breighton or more simply RAF Breighton is a former Royal Air Force station located near to the village of Breighton, East Riding of Yorkshire, England which is now Breighton Airfield.

Royal Air Force Aerial warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces

The Royal Air Force (RAF) is the United Kingdom's aerial warfare force. Formed towards the end of the First World War on 1 April 1918, it is the oldest independent air force in the world. Following victory over the Central Powers in 1918 the RAF emerged as, at the time, the largest air force in the world. Since its formation, the RAF has taken a significant role in British military history. In particular, it played a large part in the Second World War where it fought its most famous campaign, the Battle of Britain.

Breighton village in Yorkshire, England

Breighton is a village in the East Riding of Yorkshire, England. It is situated on the east bank of the River Derwent, approximately 5 miles (8 km) north-west of Howden.

East Riding of Yorkshire County of England

The East Riding of Yorkshire, or simply East Riding, is an area in Northern England and can refer either to the administrative county of the East Riding of Yorkshire which is a unitary authority, to the ceremonial county (Lieutenancy) of the East Riding of Yorkshire or to the easternmost of the three subdivisions (ridings) of the traditional county of Yorkshire.



The airfield was built between 1940 and 1942 for No. 1 Group RAF, [1] its first residents were the No. 460 Squadron RAAF. [2]

No. 1 Group RAF Royal Air Force operations group

No. 1 Group of the Royal Air Force is one of the two operations groups in Air Command, the other being the No. 2 Group. Today, the group is referred to as the Air Combat Group, as it controls the RAF's combat fast-jet aircraft and has airfields in the UK, as well as RAF Support Unit Goose Bay in Canada. The group headquarters is located alongside Headquarters Air Command at RAF High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire. The current Air officer commanding No 1 Group is Air Vice-Marshal Harvey Smyth.

No. 460 Squadron RAAF Royal Australian Air Force squadron

No. 460 Squadron is a Royal Australian Air Force intelligence unit active within the Defence Imagery and Geospatial Organisation (DIGO). It was first formed as a heavy bomber squadron during World War II on 15 November 1941 and disbanded on 10 October 1945 after seeing extensive combat over Europe. The squadron was a multinational unit, but most personnel were Australian. No. 460 Squadron was reformed on 2 July 2010 and is currently located in Canberra.

From 1959 to 1963, as part of Project Emily, the base was a launch site for three nuclear-armed PGM-17 Thor intermediate-range ballistic missiles, operated by No. 240 Squadron RAF. [3]

Project Emily British deployment of American-built PGM-17 Thor intermediate-range ballistic missiles

Project Emily was the deployment of American-built Thor intermediate-range ballistic missiles (IRBMs) in the United Kingdom between 1959 and 1963. Royal Air Force (RAF) Bomber Command operated 60 Thor missiles, dispersed to 20 RAF air stations, as part of the British nuclear deterrent.

PGM-17 Thor first operational ballistic missile deployed by the U.S. Air Force

Thor was the first operational ballistic missile deployed by the U.S. Air Force (USAF). Named after the Norse god of thunder, it was deployed in the United Kingdom between 1959 and September 1963 as an intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) with thermonuclear warheads. Thor was 65 feet (20 m) in height and 8 feet (2.4 m) in diameter. It was later augmented in the U.S. IRBM arsenal by the Jupiter.

Intermediate-range ballistic missile ballistic missile with a range of 3,000–5,500 km

An intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) is a ballistic missile with a range of 3,000–5,500 km, between a medium-range ballistic missile (MRBM) and an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). Classifying ballistic missiles by range is done mostly for convenience; in principle there is very little difference between a low-performance ICBM and a high-performance IRBM, because decreasing payload mass can increase range over ICBM threshold. The range definition used here is used within the U.S. Missile Defense Agency. Some other sources include an additional category, the long-range ballistic missile (LRBM), to describe missiles with a range between IRBMs and true ICBMs. The more modern term theater ballistic missile encompasses MRBMs and SRBMs, including any ballistic missile with a range under 3,500 km (2,175 mi).

The base closed in March 1964, when the last active unit (which operated the Bristol Bloodhound air-defence missile) withdrew. [4]


No. 78 Squadron RAF Handley Page Halifax II/III/VI
Douglas Dakota
16 June 194320 September 1945 RAF Almaza [5]
No. 112 Squadron RAF Bristol Bloodhound I7 November 196031 March 1964Disbanded [6]
No. 240 Squadron RAF PGM-17 Thor 1 August 19598 January 1963Disbanded [3]
No. 460 Squadron RAAF Vickers Wellington IV
Handley Page Halifax II
Avro Lancaster I/III
4 January 194214 May 1943 RAF Binbrook [2]


Current use

Mustangs Flying During Breighton Airshow Mustangs Flying During Breighton Airshow.jpg
Mustangs Flying During Breighton Airshow

The original runways are covered in buildings but the outline of the runways, taxiways and dispersal stands are clearly visible using satellite imagery. [4]

A part of the airfield is currently used by the Real Aeroplane Company to house and maintain private and historic aircraft and a home for the Breighton Flying Club which uses a separate grass runway located within the original airfield grounds. [1]

Five people were injured in a helicopter crash at the airfield on 17 July 2016. [8]

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  1. 1 2 "Airfield history". The Real Aeroplane Company. Retrieved 27 September 2012.
  2. 1 2 Jefford 1988 , p. 93.
  3. 1 2 Jefford 1988 , p. 76
  4. 1 2 Delve 2006, p. 50.
  5. Jefford 1988 , p. 48.
  6. Jefford 1988 , p. 56.
  7. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 "Breighton - Units". Airfields of Britain Conservation Trust . Retrieved 4 June 2016.
  8. "Five casualties after helicopter crash". BBC News. Retrieved 17 July 2016.