RAF Cosford History

RAF Cosford History

The History of RAF Cosford

As part of the pre-World War 2 RAF Expansion Plan, the requirement for additional aircraft storage and repair facilities and a network of Aircraft Storage Units (ASUs) was recognized; a site near Shifnal, Shropshire, was selected for an ASU to be erected.

E Type Hangar

Additionally, the upsurge of manpower requirements was soon to overwhelm the RAF's existing training units at Halton, Cranwell and Uxbridge. Further analysis showed that a succession of Technical Training Schools would ease the manpower and knowledge gaps and it was suggested that the ASUs could house the new schools. Building started at Cosford in August 1937.

The RAF's No 2 School of Technical Training (No2 SofTT) was formed on 15 July 1938; by the outbreak of World War 2, Cosford had 3,580 trainees consisting of apprentices in the trades of (Fitter) Engines, Airframes, Armourers, plus a significant number of Flight Mechanics and Flight Riggers (however, the apprentice element was ordered back to RAF Halton in March 1940). In March 1939 No 9 Maintenance Unit took up residence at Cosford, its initial role being to store, maintain, modify, repair and, ultimately, issue aircraft to operational units.

Throughout the war years many and varied units came to Cosford, (an Officers' School, No 12 Ferry Pilots Pool, a Czechoslovak Depot, School of Musketry to name but a few); some remained for many years while others departed relatively quickly.

Air Transport Auxiliary

A major RAF Hospital was added to the site in 1940 and towards the end of the war it was decided that repatriated RAF PoWs would be processed through RAF Cosford. Nos 106 and 108 Personnel Reception Centres were established and over 13,000 ex-PoWs had passed through RAF Cosford by 23 August 1948 when the units were eventually closed down. The hospital continued to serve the RAF and the local community until it closed in 1977.

Op Exodus - Returning POWs

Post-World War 2 there were numerous organisational changes but No2 SofTT continued in the training role and even re-commenced training apprentices and, later, RAF Boy Entrants. Other significant moves included the move to Cosford of the RAF School of Photography in 1963 (it became a Joint Service School in 1972); in Aug 1977 the RAF School of Physical Training moved to the camp.

Boy Entrant Chefs

This was followed by the University of Birmingham Air Squadron in 1978 and the Cosford element of the RAF Museum in 1984. Following the transfer of RAF Halton's remaining technical training during the period 1993 to 1995, RAF Cosford took on the mantle of the No 1 School of Technical Training and the Air Force's premier technical training establishment. The last major arrival at Cosford was, following a major building programme, that of No 1 Radio School (formerly at RAF Locking) in 1999.

Flowerdown Hall - built for No 1 Radio School

Following the publication of the outcome of the Defence Training Review (DTR) in 2001, and the implementation of the DTR Rationalisation Programme thereafter, the whole of the MOD's Phase 2 training was placed within one of 6 training streams (Air Engineering (AE); Electro-Mechanical (EM) Engineering; Communication & Information Systems (CIS); Logistics; Security, Languages, Intelligence and Photography (SLIP) or Police and Administration). Each training stream, headed by a one-star officer, would constitute a Federated College.

The Defence College of Aeronautical Engineering (DCAE) located its headquarters at Cosford (the site being renamed DCAE Cosford on vesting of the College on 1 April 2004).

Vesting Day of the DCAE

No1 Radio School and the Defence School of Photography remained at Cosford post-1 April 2004 but their command and control migrated to the Defence College of CIS and Defence Intelligence and Security Centre, respectively. The Aerosystems Engineering and Management Training School (AE&MTS) achieved full operating capability in January 13 following the migration of Engineer Officer training from Cranwell.

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