Ex-RAF and ex-USAF base which retains most of its buildings, hangars, etc and even has some aeroplanes and helicopters remaining on site.
History of RAF Bentwaters
RAF Bentwaters is a former Royal Air Force station in Suffolk, named after Bentwater Cottages, two small houses that stood on the site of the main runway prior to its construction. Construction of the base began in 1942 for use by RAF Bomber Command and opened for operational use in April 1944. In December that year it was transferred to No. 11 Group, RAF Fighter Command. The runways were constructed in the typical RAF layout of one main runway diagonally intersected by two secondary runways, forming a triangle.
The base was used by the RAF during the Second World War, and then used by the United States Air Force from 1951 until 1993, primarily for efforts during the Cold War. Bentwaters was to play a key role in the defence of Western Europe during the Cold War when large numbers of USAF aircraft were assigned as part of the air arm of NATO.
Bentwaters was handed back to the UK Ministry of Defence in 1993 and was subsequently closed. Now known as Bentwaters Parks, the site is used as a business park and filming location. Owners are constantly developing the filming and production facilities available at the site. Movies and TV programmes filmed there include Derren Brown’s Apocalypse, movies The Numbers Station and Fast & Furious 6, along with some Top Gear stunts, amongst others.
In 2007 the Bentwaters Cold War Museum opened, including tours of the fully restored “War Operations Room” and “Battle Cabin”.
Star Wars Building
The so-called “Star Wars Building” is surrounded by concrete blast walls and contains some interesting spaces including a medical room.
Built during the Cold War to securely store nuclear and conventional weapons, the bomb store was heavily fortified with three layers of fencing, razor wire, a swing-arm vehicle barrier, two gates, pressure pads, armoured guard house, guard tower and overhead cables to keep helicopters out.
We didn’t get passed the gate!
One of the store buildings had a couple of old fire engines parked up behind it….
Planes and Helicopters
There are all sorts of jet aeroplanes and helicopters parked up around the site, in varying states of decay and dismantlement.
The K-9 building contains spacious dog kennels.
The site has a lot of hardened aircraft shelters, or hangars, spread out across a vast area. Several are in use by private companies, and others are empty. A common feature of the hangars is the huge sliding doors that form the entire hangar’s frontage – these slide to the side on rails to open up fully allowing access for aeroplanes.
Deputy Commander Operations
This building had been out of use for quite some time and is suffering a lot of decay. The moisture and condensation cause constant rainfall inside the building, which was ideal for plant growth.
Runway, Control Tower and Maintenance Vehicles
We didn’t make it over to the control tower, which is situated within the live business park area of the site. The runway still has some of the maintenance and de-icing vehicles parked up.
The Hush House
Originally built as a jet engine testing facility with an exhaust tunnel, the Hush House was a soundproofed hangar where fighter jet engines could be tested without annoying the neighbours.