Peter Long’s brief history of Watton – 1955

Early in the year, Development Squadron’s Varsity aircraft began the task of flight testing a passive monitoring radar receiver which was being developed at Watton. Code named ‘Breton’, this piece of equipment was to be used in the next generation of Elint gathering aircraft to be used by the CSE. The RB29 Washington aircraft of 192 Squadron were intended for use by the CSE only in the short term. Already, following the consideration of a number of suitable airframes for the task, the RAF had finally ordered the modification of three de Havilland Comet C2’s which would become the new Elint gathering platform for the CSE to be operated by 192 Squadron.

During June, Development Squadron, equipped with an experimental centimetric radar jammer code-named ‘Catherine’ was tasked to assist the Royal Radar Establishment which was developing ‘Orange Yeoman’ radar which would in the future be used for the RAF’s surface to air guided weapon’s. The Lincoln was to carry out jamming exercises against this new radar.

In the same month Development Squadron’s Meteor NF12 began trials of a piece of equipment which was designed and was being developed specifically for the RAF’s Gloster Javelin all weather fighters. ‘Torus’ was a radar-based homing unit with the purpose of homing the Javelin to a target aircraft. The Meteor’s initial job was to test the fade-out range of the equipment.

It was during this year that the second incident occurred where a Meteor NF from CSE Watton landed by error in Communist East Germany. This time it was an NF14 of Development Squadron, ostensibly on a calibration sortie in the British Zone of West Germany. Having become lost they ran out of fuel and carried out a wheels–up landing in a German field. Unfortunately, they had landed on the wrong side of the border. Another diplomatic incident.

On Saturday 27th August a Varsity of 527 Squadron, in conjunction with the BBC carried out what is claimed to be the first air to ground television broadcast. This broadcast was followed by two others on the 28th and 30th. (See here for more information.)

By the end of September all of 527’s Meteor aircraft had been replaced by English Electric Canberra BMk2 aircraft, five in all. The squadron was also still operating Varsity aircraft.

For some time, there had been thought given at Group level to the possibility of moving the CSE away from Watton. In November the decision was taken to shelve indefinitely any possibility of deployment away from Watton.

Development Squadron’s Lincoln aircraft were to be prepared for the fitting of a new piece of equipment that they would be testing for some considerable time into the future. This new very powerful centimetric radar jammer code-named ‘Indigo Bracket’ (IB) was being developed by the CSE’s research facility.

These and the other ‘snapshots’ of my post-war history of RAF Watton are extracts from

‘In Support Of So Many’
Royal Air Force Station Watton 1945 ~ 2000
A Story of a Peacetime RAF Station

 

© Peter J. Long 1999