Validation date: 12 12 2011
Updated on: 08 12 2016
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57°38'58"N 003°33'38"W

Runway: 07/25 - 2311meters/7582feet - Asphalt (CLOSED)

RAF Kinloss Station Crest

Kinloss airfield (Also known as RAF Kinloss, ICAO EGQK) was an airfield 190 kilometers North of Edinburg, Scotland.
The airfield was built in 1938 and opened in April 1939. The first units at the base were 14 Flying Training School (FTS) and 45 Maintenance Unit. Only a year later 14FTS was replaced by 19OTU (Operational Training Unit), training RAF bomber crews for operational missions on Whitley bombers. During the early years the airfield was still under construction. Like most of its counterparts at the time it received three runways. As enemy (Germany) attack was always a possibility, many attempts were made to camouflage the new airfield. One such attempt did not bother the Germans too much, as they happily put a reconnaissance photo in one of their magazines!
By May 1940 the base commander declared Kinloss to be fully operational and construction complete. Throughout the majority of the war 19 Operational Training Unit was the primary training unit. Between July 1940 and June 1941 it flew over 22,073 hours almost four times the rate achieved by 14 FTS the previous year.

The number of missions flown could not hide the fact that Kinloss suffered a high training accident rate. 68 accidents were registered in the first year of 19OTUs operations, with many deaths. Many trainees ended up ditching in nearby Findhorn Bay which was a Catch 22 situation. Ending up in the bay at low tide in a dinghy was useless, as the bay was a quagmire. On high tide it could occasionally flood the airfield. This led to the humourous situation that a crew that had landed thought they had accidentally overshot. Before climbing in their dinghies they made a distress call. Next thing they saw from their dinghies was firetrucks driving right up beside them.

19OTU disbanded after WE-Day and was replaced by 6 (Coastal) OTU. This marked the beginning of RAF Kinlosses maritme operations. They flew Lancasters that were adapted for ASW and SAR duties. Kinloss also became the final resting place for many surplus aircraft, and it was 45MU's task to dispose of them. The satellite airfield at Forres was closed around that same time.
In 1947 19(C)OTU was split into an Operational Conversion Unit (236OCU) and the School of Maritime Reconnaissance. In 1956 the two were reunited as the Maritime Operational Training Unit (MOTU). MOTU remained at Kinloss until 1965, leaving the three operational Squadons 120, 201 and 206.
Relationships with neighbouring communities were exceptional. In July 1962, the Station received one of its highest honours, the Civic Freedom of the Royal and Ancient Burgh of Forres, allowing Kinloss personnel the right to march through the Burgh with swords drawn. This was the first time any military unit had been so honoured by Forres throughout the Burgh's 1400 year history. Only one 'neighbour' occasionally 'suffered' from RAF Kinloss: RNAS (now RAF) Lossiemouth. One particular story tells of (RAF) Kinloss locking the (RNAS) Lossiemouth Air Traffic Controller in his tower and wiping all the Lossiemouth crockery with petrol. The Royal Navys response did not take too long. The next morning two helicopters hovered over Kinloss threatening to dump white paint over the blue RAF Neptune planes, unless the keys to the control tower were returned.

The remains of a Shackleton at RAF Kinloss in August 1974

The Neptunes were replaced with the Shackleton MR2 and MR3 from April 1951, and from 1969 the Nimrod MR1 was introduced. Around the same time Coastal Command disbanded, and the new RAF 18 Maritime Group of Strike Command became the new parent to Kinloss. In 1973 the Nimrod participated in Operation Dewey, better known as the 'Cod Wars', a dispute between Britain and Iceland. The operation lasted until 1976.
In 1980 two pilots were killed when a Nimrod suffered a birdstrike on takeoff from Kinloss causing it to crash. In 1982 Kinlosses Nimrods (now upgraded to MR2 standard) participted in the Falklands War. Between 1990 and 1991 Kinlosses Nimrods took part in Operation Desert Storm.
In the 1990s the announcement was made that the remaining Nimrods were to be upgraded to MRA4 standard. In 2005 206Sqn was disbanded as part of a Defence Review. The MRA4 program ran slow and became very costly, which led to the remaining operational Nimrods to be prematurely and permanently retired in an effort to safe money in 2010. The remaining squadrons, 120 and 201, plus 42(R) squadron (the OCU) were disbanded on 26 May 2011 following the cancellation of the MRA4 programme.

Fuselage of Nimrod XV247 ready to be transported from Kinloss for conversion to MRA4 by BAe in 1997 (Jim Simpson Aircraft Images).

Nimrod maritime reconnaissance aircraft parked alongside a taxiway at RAF station Kinloss (James Allan, via, licenced for reuse under this creative commons licence).

Nimrod MR2 aircraft on the ground and in the air on a wintry day at RAF Kinloss (RAF photo)

Left without aircraft, squadrons and a mission, Kinloss became surplus to requirements. Regular flying operations seized on 31 july 2011. Only 663 Volunteer Gliding School and the Moray Flying Club still use the airfield. In November 2011 the Ministry of Defence announced that the 39 Engineer Regiment (Air Support) would move from Waterbeach Barracks, near Cambridge, to Kinloss in the summer of 2012. This made Kinloss an Army barracks of the Royal Engineers. The RAF Kinloss Mountain Rescue Team continued to operate from their existing purpose built base at Kinloss for over two more years, until they moved into a former 'D' Flight No. 202 Squadron hangar at Lossiemouth in February 2015. The Kinloss ARCC (Aeronautical Rescue Coordination Centre) located at the base closed on 31 March 2016, with 27 RAF personnel being redeployed to other RAF stations, or leaving the service, and 10 civilian jobs being lost from Kinloss.

Black and White photo of RAF kinloss in 2008 (Google Earth)