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Nose Dock Hangar at Former RAF Upper Heyford (Building 325)

A Grade II Listed Building in Upper Heyford, Oxfordshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.9297 / 51°55'46"N

Longitude: -1.2591 / 1°15'32"W

OS Eastings: 451041

OS Northings: 225942

OS Grid: SP510259

Mapcode National: GBR 8WT.SM7

Mapcode Global: VHCWW.4R7L

Entry Name: Nose Dock Hangar at Former RAF Upper Heyford (Building 325)

Listing Date: 7 April 2008

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1392505

English Heritage Legacy ID: 490616

Location: Upper Heyford, Cherwell, Oxfordshire, OX25

County: Oxfordshire

District: Cherwell

Civil Parish: Upper Heyford

Built-Up Area: Upper Heyford

Traditional County: Oxfordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Oxfordshire

Church of England Parish: Upper Heyford

Church of England Diocese: Oxford

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Listing Text

UPPER HEYFORD

1715/0/10007 Nose dock hangar at former RAF Upper H
07-APR-08 eyford (Building 325)

GV II
Nose dock hangar. 1951 to designs made c.1950-1, almost certainly by the British Ministry of Works as it followed the form of a wartime hangar used to service the Sunderland flying boats, but for the United States Air Force Strategic Air Command. Aluminium cladding on aluminium frame, with corrugated steel roof. Stepped 'T'-shape, with a long cantilevered front to create the long opening needed to accommodate the American B50Ds, KB29Ps, and later the B47 Stratojet that were based here. Folding doors on this long elevation of aluminium. Internal bracing also of aluminium.

HISTORY: RAF Upper Heyford was established as a bomber station as part of the Home Defence Expansion Scheme of 1923. Following the breakdown of East-West relations with the Berlin Crisis of 1948, it was identified for use by the USAF Strategic Air Command in 1950 as a permanent site for its aircraft. The existing hangars were too small for the massive new bombers, so a specific hangar type was developed, known as a 'nose dock'. As the name suggests, the nose dock hangars sheltered only the front section of the aircraft, so that it was possible to work on its nose and engines under cover. Cover for the rest of the aircraft was not regarded as important.

Upper Heyford was served by squadrons of KB-29P refuelling aircraft from the end of 1951 and from June 1953 by the B47 Stratojet. The aircraft were deployed in Britain on 90-day rotations, so that only routine maintenance and emergency repairs had to be undertaken here. By the late 1950s a policy of 'reflex alert' was established, which meant that Upper Heyford was used intensively while other bases saw little action. The base became the centre for the F111-E in 1970, and was the only European airfield for these planes until 1977 when Lakenheath was similarly upgraded.

The Upper Heyford trio are not only the most complete survivals of this type of hangar, but are of interest in being built of aluminium, then in its infancy as a building material. In 1956 the American journalist John Peter wrote that 'aluminium has been more widely used for large structural applications in Great Britain than in any other country. British engineers have produced brilliant designs whose ingenuity and precision have brought structural use of this easy-to-erect material to a cost roughly equivalent to that of steel.'

The hangars have historic interest as rare built survivals of this era, demonstrating graphically the special relationship between Britain and the United States, and they have technical interest in their early use of aluminium as a building material. The three hangars form a group with other Cold War survivals of similar interest, and together demonstrate the phases of the American nuclear deterrent in Britain as is found at no other base.

Sources
John Peter, Aluminium in Modern Architecture, Reynolds Metals Company/ Reinhold Publishing, New York, 1956, p.66
Wayne D Cocroft and Roger J C Thomas, Cold War, Building for Nuclear Confrontation 1946-1989, English Heritage, 2003, pp.52-71


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