RAF Odiham

Badge for RAF Odiham

THE STATION

RAF Odiham in Hampshire is a front line support helicopter base working within the Joint Helicopter Command.

The Station provides critical, rapid support for UK military operations throughout the world.

Home of the UK Chinook Force, RAF Odiham operates three Chinook squadrons.

Commander

Portrait of Group Captain Lee Turner

Group Captain Lee Turner

Group Captain Turner took command of RAF Odiham and the Chinook Force in September 2017.  Before that he held the role of Assistant Director Commitments and Chief of Staff within the Joint Helicopter Command.

He commanded No 18(B) Squadron at RAF Odiham from 2013, and has previously served in the Balkans, Afghanistan and Iraq in support of UK Operations.

ADDRESS

RAF Odiham, Hook, Hampshire, RG29 1QT.

Council: Hart District Council

KEY DATES

  • 1937 - RAF Odiham is officially opened.
  • 1942 – No.13 (AC) Sqn Blenheims take part in the 1,000 Bomber raids on Germany.
  • 1942 – The Station plays a major role in support of the ill-fated Dieppe raid – Operation Jubilee.
  • 1947 – The World’s first Jet Formation Display Team ‘The Black Knights’ is formed by No.54 (F) Sqn at RAF Odiham.
  • 1948 - The first jet crossing of the Atlantic Ocean by Vampires of No.54 (F) Sqn left from RAF Odiham.
  • 2017 - RAF Chinooks of No. 18 (B) and 27 Sqns assist in the post Hurricane relief efforts in the Caribbean as part of Op RUMAN.

HISTORY

Military flying began on the site in 1926 for use by locally based Army Co-Operation Command Units supporting the British Army on exercise. In 1934 the site was chosen as the site for a permanent RAF flying station as part of the pre-war RAF Expansion Scheme and Station Headquarters was established on the 11th January 1937. 

In June 1943 RAF Odiham came under the control of Fighter Command and later the 2nd Tactical Air Force and it played a central role in the preparations for the D-Day landings a year later. 

From June 1945 RAF Odiham became part of Transport Command and was home to Dakota aircraft of Nos. 233 and 271 Sqns, flying mail and supplies into Europe and returning with former British POWs. In October the station was transferred to the control of the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) and became home to No. 120 (Transport Wing) RCAF, again operating Dakota aircraft of Nos. 436 and 437 Sqns.

In June 1946 the station was returned to RAF Fighter Command and for the next 13 years was home to Spitfires, Tempests, Vampires, Meteors, Hunters and Javelins. In February 1956 No.46 (F) Sqn became the first unit in the world to operate all weather delta winged fighter aircraft in the shape of the Gloster Javelin.

Odiham reopened in January 1960 again under Transport Command as the UK home for the RAF light transport fleet of both fixed and rotary wing aircraft.  RAF Odiham’s long association with helicopters began with the arrival of No.225 Sqn and its Sycamore and Whirlwind helicopters that month.

For the next 20 years the station was home to Single and Twin Pioneer, Belvedere, Wessex and Puma aircraft. In December 1980 the twin rotor Chinook was first introduced into service with the RAF with No.240 Operational Conversion Unit (OCU) and the first Sqn to be formed on the type was No.18 (B) Sqn in August 1981.

With the deployment to the Falklands Conflict in April 1982 of 5 Chinooks, there began an unbroken 36 year period, wherein not a year has passed without Chinooks being deployed in an operational capacity of some kind around the world, be it for either humanitarian relief, security or war fighting. Since 1998 RAF Odiham has been home to Nos. 7, 18 and 27 Sqns, who together form the UK Chinook Helicopter Force.

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