August ’19

Martlesham Heath Control Tower Museum

Martlesham Heath Control Tower Museum
What airfield near where you live has had a major impact on the development of Aircraft? One airfield is: RAF Martlesham Heath.
Opening in January 1917, and closing in 1963, this airfield played a major role in both World Wars and The Cold War witnessing flight develop from wood, wire, and linen machines with a top speed of about 80 Miles per hour to subsonic jets after World War 2.
In between the wars the Aeroplane and Armament Experimental Establishment (A. & A.E.E.) tested over 500 different types of Aircraft, both Civil and Military. The airfield became an internationally recognised Aeronautical Test centre where Military and Civilian Transport Aircraft from home and abroad were tested.
Early Airborne Radar test flights flew from here, working with the boffins at RAF Bawdsey.
During the 2nd World War planes from RAF Martlesham Heath fought off an Italian Air Force raid on the naval port of Harwich with their Hurricanes. On a normal day they would mix it with the German Luftwaffe. Three American Eagle Squadrons crewed by American Volunteer pilots operated from here at various times.
The airfield also played its part in the development of the Atomic Bomb, working with the Atomic Weapons Research engineers from Orfordness.
In 1942/3 the USAAF 356th FG arrived. Their job, in the main, was to escort the American bombers to Germany and back.
The A12 through Martlesham Heath today cuts the old airfield in two …. But airfield history is all around you if you know where to look!
No airfield runs without people, and during world War 2 about 3,000 people were involved with the Airfield.
The Museum tells the story of many of the thousands of British, Commonwealth, American, and Dominium Air Forces based here including RAF Fighter aces Bob Stanford Tuck, the legless Pilot Douglas Bader, Peter Townsend and American ace Don Strait and his fellow countrymen, 72 of whom never returned home and not forgetting the flying American Coyote, “Jeep”.
The Engineers and Airmen on the Ground such as Henry Tizard, Max Bygraves, Vic Skeet, and pioneer Aviation Photographer Walden Hammond are not forgotten.
Whilst there you can explore the Control Tower Air Raid Shelter
To find out more come along to the Martlesham Heath Control Tower built for the Americans in 1943. Open every Sunday afternoons from 2 – 5 p.m. until the last Sunday in October. We can open for School and Adult groups at other times by appointment.
Entry is free, (donations are welcomed). Parking is easy and free.
The Control Tower Parkers Place
Martlesham Heath
For more information go to: or Tel. 07707711104, alternatively e-mail:
The website details the monthly meetings of our Society, held on the first Friday of each month except August in the Martlesham Heath Community Centre, Felixstowe Road, Martlesham Heath, Suffolk IP12 4PB.
We have a special Open day on Sunday 15th September from 11:00 to 4:00 when we welcome many Vintage and Veteran vehicles.