DESPITE not having an airbase in Dorset any longer, at one point in history the county had numerous RAF stations to be proud of. 

We no longer have any military air bases in use in Dorset but once upon a time the county had a hub of Royal Air Force stations. 

Over the years the county's RAF bases have closed and become abandoned or forgotten for numerous reasons, from being no longer needed after the war to simply changing location. 

Here are some of Dorset's forgotten RAF stations:

RAF Christchurch 

Dorset Echo:

Aerial photograph of Christchurch Airfield, 1944.

Originally starting out life as Christchurch Airfield the base was located southeast of the A337/B3059 intersection in Somerford, Christchurch. 

It was a civil airfield starting from 1926, then it was used during World War II by the Royal Air Force and the United States Army Air Forces Ninth Air Force.

At the start of the Second World War the Air Defence Research and Development Establishment was built at the northeastern end of the airfield, and in May 1940, the RAF Special Duties Flight, operating an assortment of aircraft arrived to take part in the experiments with radar.

The Airspeed factory was also built on part of the original airfield and began production of Horsa Mk I gliders, AS.10 Oxfords, and de Havilland Mosquitos for the RAF.

Dorset Echo:

Republic P-47D-25-RE Thunderbolt 42-276552 of the 405th Fighter Group, 510th Fighter Squadron

In 1943, the United States Ninth Air Force required several temporary advanced landing grounds along the southern English Channel coast prior to the Normandy invasion. 

Christchurch was provided to offer tactical air support for the ground forces landing in France and played an important role.

After the war the airfield returned to civilian use and the airfield complex was then demolished in 1966.

Currently there is housing and The Runway Industrial Park located on the site.

RAF Hurn 

Dorset Echo:

Martin B-26B-55-MA Marauder Serial 42-96142 of the 596th Bombardment Squadron.

RAF Hurn is a former Second World War air base and is located approximately 4 miles north west of Christchurch.

Opened in 1941, it was used by both the Royal Air Force and United States Army Air Forces - it was used primarily as a transport and fighter airfield.

Hurn was the final airfield in England for aircraft flying to Morocco for the North African and Italian campaigns, avoiding the airspace above France, Spain and Portugal.

On 5 August 1944 the specially trained 397th Bombardment Group arrived from RAF Rivenhall, equipped with Martin B-26 Marauders (pictured above). 

The group's identification marking was a yellow diagonal band across both sides of the vertical tailplane.

It moved the Advanced Landing Ground at Gorges, France, (A-26) on 19 August.

The airfield was closed by the RAF in October 1944 and turned over for civil use in 1969 where it was known as Bournemouth Airport.

RAF Warmwell 

Dorset Echo:

Aerial photograph of Warmwell Airfield, 1944. 

RAF Warmwell was a Royal Air Force station near Warmwell between Lulworth and Weymouth.

The base operated between 1937 and 1946 - during WWII it was used by the Royal Air Force and the United States Army Air Forces Ninth Air Force.

RAF Warmwell originally opened in May 1937 as a landing ground named RAF Woodsford, for units carrying out air-to-ground firing and bombing on ranges set up off the south coast of Dorset at Chesil Bank. 

With the airfield code of 'XW' it was renamed RAF Warmwell in July 1938 due to possible confusion with Woodford, near Manchester, which was an airfield where Avro was producing the Lancaster bomber.

Warmwell's three runways remained grass-surfaced for its entire life even though as the war progressed, and the emphasis became on intruding into German-occupied Europe.

Many intruder units were based here, using the Supermarine Spitfire, Hawker Hurricane and Tempest, and the Westland Whirlwind, the first twin-engined heavy fighter for the RAF.

Dorset Echo:

The old air base cinema now used as Crossways Village Hall - Google Maps

The airfield has been occupied by a quarry which has effectively removed all trace of the flying field, whilst the site on which the technical site once lay is now a small village called Crossways.

The original northern taxiway is still in use as a road through the village and the old station cinema is now the village hall.