Peter Long’s brief history of Watton – 1957

Development Squadron started the year with an unusual task. In February three of their Lincolns detached to RNAS Culdrose to take part in ‘Search and Rescue trials’ conducted by the Royal Navy.

On the 29th March the Station’s .22 Rifle team won the News of the World Team Competition Challenge Cup for .22 rifles following the elimination of 800 competing teams.

In April 192 Squadron’s first de Havilland Comet C2 XK663 arrived at Special Radio Installations Flight, in 3 Hangar to commence fitting out. This was to be the biggest modification job to be carried out by the Royal Air Force up to that time.

During June, whilst waiting to be re-equipped with de Havilland Sea Venom ECM21’s, 751 Naval Air Squadron’s strength was down to three aircraft. These three aircraft were Grumman Avenger AS4’s and well beyond their ‘use-by’ dates. The Sea Venoms arrived at the end of the month.

The second Comet, XK659, arrived at Watton in July and work began on its modification for service with 192 Squadron.

CSE Watton had always worked in close co-operation with its equivalent organisation in the United States. In July the CSE was visited by the US Radio Warfare Mission to the United Kingdom. The US Service Officers and Civilian Scientists belonging to the mission represented all aspects of US RW. They were given a conducted tour of the Station including a number of classified projects being carried out by the CSE.

In September an IB Lincoln took part in trials under the control of the RAE Farnborough. The Lincolns flew Jamming sorties against unspecified equipment that was being developed by Marconi.

At the end of September, the Navy left Watton. 751 Naval Air Squadron moved to its new permanent Station at RNAS Culdrose, in Cornwall.

Development Squadron carried out further IB tests in October. An IB Lincoln flew jamming sorties against an advanced airborne intercept radar (AI) fitted in Dev. Squadron’s Javelin fighter.

Air Marshall Sir Geoffrey Tuttle KBE CB DFC, Deputy Chief of the Air Staff and Mr S. Scott-Hall CB MSc FCGI DIC FIAS FRAeS, Principle Scientific Advised to the Air Ministry visited the CSE. They visited the Research Laboratory and inspected the modifications being carried out on the Comet aircraft. They also saw the work progressing on the RCM fit being added to the Vickers Valiant.

With the imminent arrival on the squadron of the first Comet, a meeting of CSE staff was held in December, to discuss the future use of 192’s Washington aircraft. The decision reached was that the aircraft would no longer be used for Sigint tasks and they be sent for disposal. No further major signals tasking would be undertaken by 192 Squadron until the first Comet was ready for service.

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

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