Whenever I fly over southern or eastern England I see a lot of runways, many of them disused. The majority were built during WW2 for the RAF and USAAF, others date back to the early cold war years. New airfields were built in many parts of the UK at this time. Is there a record of how many new RAF/USAAF/USAF airfields were constructed between, say, the mid-1930s and 1960?

I can find lists of current and former RAF and US stations, but it isn't clear whether a particular station was also an airfield, and much of the dating information is incomplete.

1 Answer 1


By 1939 around 100 permanent airfields had been constructed.

Year   Military  Licensed Civil

1935    60        90
1940   280         0
1945   720
1950   270        90
1955   210       105
1960   130       115

According to the Aeroplane Directory, in 1945 the UK contained 720 operational service airfields (including flying-boat bases), occupying in total around 360,000 acres; by 1965 the number had dwindled to around 100 with a further 50 or so being reserved for other military purposes.
–– Nine Thousand Miles of Concrete: A Review of Second World War Temporary Airfields in England (PDF)

Apparently also of interest;

–– USAAF AIRFIELDS Guide and Map (PDF)

  • 1
    Those are really usefull documents! Thanks very much Nov 6, 2019 at 10:11

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