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British Industrial History

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Airborne Forces Experimental Establishment

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The Central Landing Establishment was set up at Ringway, Cheshire; it was a Royal Air Force unit under Army Cooperation Command. The Establishment consisted of glider and paratroop training squadrons and a glider development unit.

Late 1941: The Establishment was renamed the Airborne Forces Establishment (AFE). The training squadrons were moved out and absorbed into normal Royal Air Force units and AFE concentrated on developmental and experimental work in connection with the transport and delivery of airborne forces and their equipment. The glider development unit was replaced by a Technical Development Section and the entire Establishment was placed under the technical control of the Ministry of Aircraft Production.

1942 The establishment was renamed Airborne Forces Experimental Establishment, its main function being to test and to assist in the technical development of the means of transporting airborne forces with their equipment and delivering them on the ground in a serviceable condition so that they could engage the enemy immediately.

1942 AFEE left Ringway in August for a site with more suitable facilities at Sherburn-in-Elmet, Yorkshire. However, this was handicapped by adverse weather conditions and was remote from other Experimental Establishments and from Army Airborne Development formations with whom close liaison was necessary.

By the end of 1944 a satisfactory alternative site was found at Beaulieu in Hampshire. The Establishment moved there in January 1945. The better weather conditions at the new airfield permitted a considerable increase in the output of experimental work.

1946 The Ministry of Supply assumed control of AFEE

1950 the Establishment was moved to Boscombe Down where it merged with the Aeroplane and Armament Experimental Establishment.

See Also


Sources of Information

  • [1] National Archives