Site 14. RAF Wick – Construction

In early 1939 as war loomed in Europe, the construction of an RAF base at Wick was started by a 300 strong labour force from Wimpy Construction that was employed to construct the airfield and associated buildings. Following the declaration of war on the 3rd of September 1939 due to the German invasion of Poland, the airfield was prematurely declared operational. The Station Headquarters were hastily formed on the 15th of September and stores and equipment were hurriedly massed at the site to enable the first squadrons to arrive by the 30th of September 1939.

Wick Airfield Camoflaged
Wick Airfield Camoflaged

Whilst construction of the three main tarmac runways continued, the newly arrived squadrons had to operate off the grass airfield at Hillhead Farm which was being used by Scottish Airways. Wire mesh had to be laid over this grass runway to allow for heavier aircraft to operate from the field as it would become a quagmire during periods of heavy rain. Construction of the RAF airfield was completed by February 1940 with the inclusion of four massive Type C Aircraft Hangars along with three temporary canvas Bessonneaux Hangars. These canvas structures were only used for the winter of 1939/40 whilst the Type C Hangars were completed.

The three runways initially measured 3,500 feet (1067m) in length by 150 feet (46m) wide, but owing to the ever larger Coastal Command aircraft operating out of the airfield, runway 14/32 had to be extended at both ends in February 1942. As well as the runway extensions, additional aircraft hardstanding points were also constructed at the same time. In 1946 the airfield was transferred to the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) as a civilian airport and in the 1950s runway 14/32 was extended once more to its current length of 6000 feet (1829m).

Unfortunately, many of the airfield buildings were demolished in the years after the war and the remaining technical and administration buildings were torn down in the 1980s to make way for the modern industrial estate. However, two of the huge Type C Hangars still exist as well as the original 518/40 Watch Office (Control Tower) which was used up until the construction of a new control tower in 1993. To the north of the airfield lies the remarkably intact bomb stores which are now designated as a scheduled monument of national importance.

Control Tower Main Workshops Motor Transport Workshops Motor Transport Workshops Motor Transport Workshops Officer's Mess Armoury





1960s photogragh of RAF Wick
1960s photogragh of RAF Wick with some Photograph from late 1941 with camouflaged runways buildings removed.