Posted 30 August 2010 - 10:58 AM
Whilst on holiday in Cornwall last week, I seized on the opportunity to visit RNAS Culdrose and Predannack to view the FAA at work. Culdrose was rather quiet due to the annual summer block leave, but this was more than compensated by a close up inspection of some of the wrecks and relics at the FAA Fire School at nearby RNAS Predannack - Culdrose's satellite and RLG.
For those unfamiliar with the site, Predannack lies about 6 miles south of Culdrose on the Lizard peninsula. It occupies some 780 acres of rough heathland and was opened in May 1941 originally as a satellite for RAF Portreath. It's wartime service saw it cccupied by numerous RAF units including 247 Sqn Hurricanes, 263 Sqn Whirlwinds, 264 Sqn Mosquito NF IIs, 141 Sqn Beaufighters, 1 and 165 Sqn Spitfires IXs, Wellingtons of 311 (Czech) Sqn and 1457 Flt Havocs. The base's position in the extreme south-west made it ideal as a launch pad for anti-shipping operations, as a stopping off point for missions/deployments to North Africa, and for emergency landings for aircraft returning from missions over the Atlantic.
Post WWII the base reverted to care and maintenance status but was brought back to life briefly in the early 1950s by Barnes Wallis and the Vickers team who were to conduct variable geometry trials on site under the Wild Goose programme. The base was again abandoned in October 1954, only to reopen 4 years later as a relief landing ground for RNAS Culdrose. In the early 1970s the RN Fire Fighting School arrived on the airfield and thus began a long time hosting of various time expired airframes for fire and rescue practice. Also currently resident is 626 VGS which operates 5 x Viking T.1 gliders for ATC/CCF air experience and glider training.
Very little of RNAS Predananck can be seen from the roads outside the base, so the best option to get a closer view is to take the coastal footpath from Kynance Cove. From the delightful sandy beaches at Kynance Cove it is necessary to climb the steep and jaggd path leading to the cliff tops, and from there take an approximate 1.5 mile walk towards Mullion. The coastal path goes right past the western perimeter of the base where the dumped wrecks can be easily seen from the adjacent bridleway. Although there is no perimeter fence as such, if you are planning to visit, for your safety I would recommend going when there are not likely to be any helicopter activities such as at weekends or during block leave.
For the record, the current inhabitants of the FAA Fire School are: Canberra B(I)6 WT308 (ex DARA/ETPS); Dominie T1 XS738/U; Harrier GR3s XV753, XV783, XZ969 and ZD667; Harrier T4s XW271 and XZ145; Jaguar T4 XX845; Jetstream T2 fuselage XX479; Sea Harrier F/A2 ZD581; Sea King HAS5 XZ570; Wessex HAS1 XS885 (ex 771 NAS), Wessex HAS3 XP137 and Wessex HU5 XS520.
As you will see from the pictures below, many of these frames are now in a state of advanced deterioration which is very sad, but at least it is good to be able to see up close a number of types which have now disappeared from active military service.
A couple of views of Dominie T1 XS738/U 'Lima'.
Canberra B(I)6 WT308
Harriers abound at Predananck including GR3 XV753 (top) and T4 XW271 (below)
Cab of Sea King HAS.5 (XZ570)
Wessex assortment. From top HAS1 XS885(DD512); HAS.3 XP137 (centre); and HU.5 XS520/P (bottom)
Latest arrival is ex DCAE (and formerly 6 Sqn) Jaguar T.4 XX845
Thanks for looking, C&C always welcome.
Posted 06 September 2010 - 12:44 PM
Thanks very much indeed for your comments. It was my first trip to Predannack but certainly wont be my last. It is a slightly spooky place with a real WWII feel. It was also eerie to hear the wind whistling through the launch wires on the Vikings as they take to the skies.
You live in a stuning part of England!
Very nice photographs. I haven't been there for a while, good to see the place still looks the same.
Posted 06 September 2010 - 01:04 PM
I might have to go and pay a visit to Predannack myself at some point. I could do with exploring that end of the county a little more anyway, really!
I didn't realise it was summer leave at Culdrose, but that explains why for a few weeks now I have had maybe a Merlin or Sea King over my house every couple of days, when usually it is in the region of two or three each day!
Thanks for the piccies
Edited by Davec_24, 06 September 2010 - 01:04 PM.
Posted 06 September 2010 - 03:22 PM
All the aircraft photographed - and a few others which are a bit more distant - can be seen from the bridlepath. There is no perimeter fence as such.
Nice photos, but I have to ask - can you see the wrecks from the path like this or did you have to 'look the other way' at the sign?
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