Opened in 1939, RAF Silloth was a large grass expansion-era airfield initially used solely by No.22 Maintenance Unit for the maintenance and repair of a variety of training aircraft in the RAF inventory, mainly Avro Ansons, Airspeed Oxfords and Blackburn Bothas. It was soon joined by No.1 Operational Training Unit of Coastal Command who trained crews using Ansons, Bothas and Bristol Beauforts. After three concrete runways were laid in 1941 it could handle larger aircraft and American Consolidated Liberators landed here, with the airfield also being home to Lockheed Hudsons of No.320 (Netherlands) Squadron for a period.
The Silloth Trainer was developed here. Based around the cockpit of a disused Hudson, it was built to train crews in emergency procedures, and was a forerunner of the modern flight simulator. The airfield was bombed in 1940 after a trial involving marker flares caught the attention of the Luftwaffe. In 1941 it was used to film the Tyrone Power / Betty Grable film ‘A Yank in the RAF’.
The airfield closed in 1960 and is now an industrial estate. Most buildings survive, but those not occupied may not be safe to enter to please only view from a safe distance.
You can visit the dedicated Silloth Airfield Project website and watch an excellent film about the airfield’s history by following this link:
Image credit – Solway Coast Discovery Centre collection
Aerial image – James Smith