- Britain's most northerly fighter station
Badge: The Cross of St. Andrew
superimposed on a globe of water with an upright broadsword
'Attack and Protect'.
S Bryant ADC MA BA RAF
Base to 3 Tornado F3
43 (Fighter) Squadron
- 'The Fighting Cocks'
56 (Reserve) Squadron
- 'The Firebirds'
111 (Fighter) Squadron
- 'The Tremblers'
Also 8 Lodger Units
3 Flight Army Air Corps
71 Engineer Regiment
117 (Highland) HQ & Support Squadron
612 (County of Aberdeen) Squadron
, Royal Auxiliary Air Force
East Lowlands Universities Air Squadron
Aberdeen, Dundee, St Andrews Universities Air Squadron
12 Air Experience Flight
There is a long history of aviation at Leuchars and St Andrews, there was a balloon squadron of the Royal Engineers based there in 1911. They were soon joined by what was to become the Royal Flying Corps who used the long, sandy beach of St. Andrews as a runway for their early aircraft.
Work began on Leuchars airbase itself in 1916, and was intended as a training base from the start, designated a 'Temporary Mobilisation Station', then a 'Naval Fleet Training School' for the training of aircrews in Naval work. In March 1920, Leuchars was officially named 'Royal Air Force Leuchars', but retained links with the Navy.
In 1935, Leuchars became home to No. 1 Flying Training School, and bombing ranges were set up in nearby Tentsmuir Forest. Then, as war became more and more likely, No. 1 FTS was moved to Netheravon, and 224 & 233 Squadrons arrived. The station was now an active airbase for the first time. On the second day of WW2 a Hudson from 224 Squadron became the first British aircraft of the war to engage the enemy, attacking a Dornier 18 over the North Sea. Leuchars was not an interceptor station like those on the south coast, but a maritime patrol base instead, still working closely with the Royal Navy, conducting anti-submarine and anti-shipping strikes until the end of the war.
During the Cold War, the responsibility of Leuchars was to defend British airspace from Soviet incursion by long-range aircraft. Initially, Lightnings were used, followed by Phantom aircraft from 1969. For nearly 40 years, Leuchars has fulfilled this role of defence, providing an effective deterrent.
More recently, Tornado F3s from Leuchars have seen action in both Gulf conflicts and the policing of Iraq's no-fly zone. Eurofighter Typhoons will be introduced at Leuchars within the next few years.
With a main runway of 8491 ft, and close proximity to St. Andrews, the RAF has decided to open Leuchars for private and commercial flights. There are no scheduled flights to Leuchars, only private planes and business charters. It does get very busy during golf events such as during The Open, and the Dunhill Cup. The RAF are very keen to make sure that military operations are not affected by civilian traffic, and so capacity is limited.
P.S. mcai7et2 mentions that Leuchars holds an annual airshow, which is excellent :). Provisionally, the next Leuchars Airshow will be on Saturday 11th September 2004.
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