RAF Bentwaters, Suffolk, UK

RAF Bentwaters, Suffolk, UK

Ex-RAF and ex-USAF base which retains most of its buildings, hangars, etc and even has some aeroplanes and helicopters remaining on site.

Visited December 2018 Near Woodbridge, Suffolk in England Now used as filming location and business park

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.

Current Uses

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”.

Aerial view of the site after becoming Bentwaters Parks
Aerial view of the site after becoming Bentwaters Parks

Star Wars Building

The so-called “Star Wars Building” is surrounded by concrete blast walls and contains some interesting spaces including a medical room.

RAF Bentwaters - The Star Wars Building's blast walls
RAF Bentwaters – The Star Wars Building’s blast walls
RAF Bentwaters - Concrete blast walls
RAF Bentwaters – Concrete blast walls
RAF Bentwaters - Entrance of the Star Wars Building
RAF Bentwaters – Entrance of the Star Wars Building
RAF Bentwaters - Interior of the Star Wars Building
RAF Bentwaters – Interior of the Star Wars Building
RAF Bentwaters - Interior of the Star Wars Building
RAF Bentwaters – Interior of the Star Wars Building
RAF Bentwaters - Medical facility
RAF Bentwaters – Medical facility

Bomb Stores

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!

RAF Bentwaters - Entrance to the Bomb Stores
RAF Bentwaters – Entrance to the Bomb Stores
RAF Bentwaters - Armoured Guard House
RAF Bentwaters – Armoured Guard House
RAF Bentwaters - High security entrance
RAF Bentwaters – High security entrance
RAF Bentwaters - Razor wire fences
RAF Bentwaters – Razor wire fences
RAF Bentwaters - One of the storage facilities with overhead cables
RAF Bentwaters – One of the storage facilities with overhead cables

One of the store buildings had a couple of old fire engines parked up behind it….

RAF Bentwaters - Fire engines
RAF Bentwaters – Fire engines
RAF Bentwaters - Volvo Saxon FL6
RAF Bentwaters – Volvo Saxon FL6
RAF Bentwaters - Ford A-Series tender
RAF Bentwaters – Ford A-Series tender

Planes and Helicopters

There are all sorts of jet aeroplanes and helicopters parked up around the site, in varying states of decay and dismantlement.

RAF Bentwaters - Exxperious shooting the planes
RAF Bentwaters – Exxperious shooting the planes
RAF Bentwaters - McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom Aircraft
RAF Bentwaters – McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom Aircraft
RAF Bentwaters - Cockpit of Sepecat Jaguar T4
RAF Bentwaters – Cockpit of Sepecat Jaguar T4
RAF Bentwaters - Hawker Hunter F.6A aircraft
RAF Bentwaters – Hawker Hunter F.6A aircraft
RAF Bentwaters - Selection of abandoned aircraft
RAF Bentwaters – Selection of abandoned aircraft
RAF Bentwaters - Helicopter and Aeroplane
RAF Bentwaters – Helicopter and Aeroplane
RAF Bentwaters - Harrier Aircraft
RAF Bentwaters – Harrier Aircraft
RAF Bentwaters - Harrier side view of cockpit
RAF Bentwaters – Harrier side view of cockpit
RAF Bentwaters - Harrier viewed from wing
RAF Bentwaters – Harrier viewed from wing
RAF Bentwaters - Lynx Helicopters
RAF Bentwaters – Lynx Helicopters
RAF Bentwaters - Lynx Helicopters and Phantom
RAF Bentwaters – Lynx Helicopters and Phantom
RAF Bentwaters - Twin Huey Helicopters and Phantom
RAF Bentwaters – Twin Huey Helicopters and Phantom
RAF Bentwaters - Aircraft and service vehicles
RAF Bentwaters – Aircraft and service vehicles
RAF Bentwaters - Most of the engine had been removed
RAF Bentwaters – Most of the engine had been removed
RAF Bentwaters - Selfie!
RAF Bentwaters – Selfie!

K-9 Building

The K-9 building contains spacious dog kennels.

RAF Bentwaters - K-9 Building
RAF Bentwaters – K-9 Building
RAF Bentwaters - Kennels inside the K-9 Building
RAF Bentwaters – Kennels inside the K-9 Building
RAF Bentwaters - In one of the spacious kennels
RAF Bentwaters – In one of the spacious kennels

Hangars

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.

RAF Bentwaters - One of the many hangers
RAF Bentwaters – One of the many hangers
RAF Bentwaters - Typical interior of the hangers
RAF Bentwaters – Typical interior of the hangers
RAF Bentwaters - Original sliding door controls
RAF Bentwaters – Original sliding door controls
RAF Bentwaters - The framework sits on rails and supports the huge doors, allowing them to slide fully open
RAF Bentwaters – The framework sits on rails and supports the huge doors, allowing them to slide fully open
RAF Bentwaters - 527th Aggressor Squadron Hardened Aircraft Shelter
RAF Bentwaters – 527th Aggressor Squadron Hardened Aircraft Shelter

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.

RAF Bentwaters - Deputy Commander Operations building
RAF Bentwaters – Deputy Commander Operations building
RAF Bentwaters - Lot's of decay inside the Deputy Commander Operations building
RAF Bentwaters – Lot’s of decay inside the Deputy Commander Operations building
RAF Bentwaters - Indoor garden
RAF Bentwaters – Indoor garden

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.

RAF Bentwaters - The Control Tower pictured in 1972
RAF Bentwaters – The Control Tower pictured in 1972
RAF Bentwaters - The Control Tower today (poor quality due to crazy crop, as we didn't go over there!)
RAF Bentwaters – The Control Tower today (poor quality due to crazy crop, as we didn’t go over there!)
RAF Bentwaters - North/South runway with the control tower in the distance
RAF Bentwaters – North/South runway with the control tower in the distance
RAF Bentwaters - De-icer truck
RAF Bentwaters – De-icer truck
RAF Bentwaters - Another truck on the runway
RAF Bentwaters – Another truck on the runway
RAF Bentwaters - Runway sweeper
RAF Bentwaters – Runway sweeper

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.

RAF Bentwaters - Exterior of the exhaust tunnel
RAF Bentwaters – Exterior of the exhaust tunnel
RAF Bentwaters - Interior of the Hush House
RAF Bentwaters – Interior of the Hush House
RAF Bentwaters - The exhaust tunnel
RAF Bentwaters – The exhaust tunnel
RAF Bentwaters - Hush House control booth and viewing window
RAF Bentwaters – Hush House control booth and viewing window

 

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