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Site Details

NPRN 309965

Map Reference SS09NE

Grid Reference SS076973

Unitary (Local) Authority Pembrokeshire

Old County Pembrokeshire

Community Manorbier

Type of Site AIRFIELD

Broad Class DEFENCE

Period Modern

Site Description Of the wartime buildings, a Bellman hangar is still in use. The catapults installed to launch the Queen Bee drones (radio controlled De Havilland Tiger Moth planes) are still visible, as is the base of the Pickett-Hamilton retractable pillbox.

Event and Historical Information:
This airfield comprised an army camp with a small grass field runway which was initially used as an anti-aircraft training school and was established in the mid 1930s. The first unit to be based her was B Flight of 1 Anti-Aircraft Command Unit in 1937. Most of the early accommodation and workshop space was formed from canvas tents. By the 1939, the Pilotless Aircraft Unit was based permanently at Manorbier and brick buildings had begun to replace canvas. The runway was enlarged in 1940 and also acquired catapults to launch Queen Bees from the clifftops so that gunnery practice could be continued when the grass runways were too wet and flooded. Airfield defences included a Pickett-Hamilton retractable pillbox which could be fitted with different calibre guns and could be raised and lowered hydraulically. A tender was used to retrieve the drones from the sea and return them to Tenby harbour. The drones woudl then be returned by road to the base. The Pilotless Aircraft Unit continued to use the airfield after the war. The airfield continues in use by the army today, primarily for helicopters.

Sources include:
Defence of Britain Project
Jones, I, 2007, Airfields and Landing Grounds of Wales: West, pg54-65
Phillips, Alan, 2006, Military Airfields Wales, pg 141-4
Smith, David J, 1982, Action Stations 3: Military Airfields of Wales and the North West, pg 122-3

RCAHMW, June 2008.

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