Burtonwood Celebrated its 80th Anniversary of Opening on 1st April 2020

RAF Burtonwood opened as No 37 Maintenance Unit (MU) on 1 April 1940, 80 years ago. Its main role was as an Aircraft Storage Unit, receiving aircraft from the manufacturers, preparing them for service, modifying and issuing them. The site was split in two, 37 MU and the airfield on the west side of Cow Lane (later Burtonwood Road) and Burtonwood Repair Depot Ltd (BRD) on the east side, sharing the airfield. BRD was a civilian operated organisation operating as a ‘shadow factory’ under the control of Fairey Aviation and later the Ministry of Aircraft Production.BRD Site was completed first and employed approximately 4,000 workers overhauling aero engines, manufacturing parts and actually assembling some Bristol Blenheims on site. Very soon it became responsible for receiving American aircraft arriving under the Lend-Lease scheme. The first job was the modification of a number of Martin Marylands. Eventually it became responsible for most US aircraft prior to Pearl Harbor. No 37 MU initially handled Hampdens, Magisters, Oxfords, Spitfires, Lysanders, Ansons, and Whitleys. The airfield and infrastructure was not complete, comprised two short runways, 04/22 and 15/31 each being only 3,150 ft long. Things were change dramatically.Initially the living sites were incomplete and arriving airmen were billeted out into local houses whilst the unlucky had to use tents. Unfortunately there are virtually no photos of the RAF at Burtonwood prior to 1942 but I attach four stills from an IWM film depicting the actual construction of BRD Site and a Luftwaffe target photo showing the layout as at 1940. Happy Birthday RAF Burtonwood

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