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Three Type C Fighter Pens, Evenley

Description: Three Type C Fighter Pens

Grade: II
Date Listed: 21 July 2011
English Heritage Building ID: 1403308

OS Grid Reference: SP5657733040
OS Grid Coordinates: 456579, 233053
Latitude/Longitude: 51.9931, -1.1774

Locality: Evenley
Local Authority: South Northamptonshire District Council
County: Northamptonshire
Country: England
Postcode: NN13 5LL

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Listing Text


Three Type C fighter pens built in 1940-41 and constructed in accordance with standard Air Ministry designs of concrete and brick, and covered in earth. Concrete hard-standings.

Reason for Listing

The three type C fighter pens at RAF Croughton, constructed 1940-41, are recommended for designation for the following principal reasons:
* Rarity: fighter pens at former RAF aerodromes are quite rare, and this group of three is a good example, showing approaches to airfield defence
* Intactness: the group survives in good condition, and its function is clear through the survival of hard-standings and the legible sites of adjacent structures
* Historic Interest: RAF Croughton served as an Emergency Landing Ground during the Battle of Britain, and had an interesting history


RAF Croughton occupies an area of relatively flat ground 1 km to the south-east of the village of Croughton. It was built in 1938 as part of the RAF's massive pre-war expansion programme, started in 1935 in response to the increasing strength of the German armed forces. Known as Brackley Landing Ground, it became RAF Brackley in 1940 and obtained the name of RAF Croughton in July 1941. It consisted of a grass airfield with three grass runways, surrounded by a perimeter track. From June 1940 until July 1942 the station functioned as a satellite for RAF Upper Heyford and the No.16 Operational Training Unit (OTU), providing extra airfield space for night-flying training. In September 1940, during the Battle of Britain, the airfield became designated as an emergency landing site in order to provide assistance to any operational aircraft returning damaged or with engine problems. The airfield was bombed several times in 1941. From July 1942 onwards, RAF Croughton functioned as a training base, for training on the gliders which played an important role during D-Day and the Battle of Arnhem. Training continued until after the war, but ceased on 25th May 1946. In 1950, the USAF took over the airfield, giving RAF Croughton a new role as a communications base which it retains to the present day.

The Fighter Command Works aircraft fighter pens at RAF Croughton are thought to have been built in 1940 or 1941, when the airfield functioned as a satellite for RAF Upper Heyford. Each provided protection for two Bristol Blenheim-sized or similar twin-engine, medium-sized bombers. Originally there were six fighter pens divided into two groups of three, one group positioned on the northern edge of the perimeter track and the other group on the eastern edge. Only fragmentary remains of the eastern group survive.


Laid out in a line along the perimeter track of the airfield, 55 metres apart, each fighter pen consists of three arms arranged in the shape of a curvilinear 'E', enclosing a concrete hardstanding, for two aircraft, one either side of the central arm. The arms are evident as turf covered, earth mounds, revetted by low brick walls on either side of the central mound and on the inner edge of the outer mound. The central arm measures approximately 23.8 metres long, 6.4 metres wide and 2.2 metres high. The outer mound is curved and is approximately 3 metres high and 12 metres wide. As the natural topography drops down to the north, the northern slopes of the outer mound are considerably longer and wider than the internal slopes. On either side of the central arm of the fighter pens and set within the curved outer mound, is a brick-lined entrance which gives access to a pre-cast, concrete, Stanton type air-raid shelter set within the central section of the outer mound. The shelter could accommodate up to 25 men during an attack. The rear of the outer curved mound contains a third entrance, originally an emergency exit. The hardstandings are surfaced in concrete slabs and some small areas have been patched with tarmac. The eastern hardstanding has four round holes which are believed to have been the positions of aircraft tie-down points.

Outside the footprint of the fighter pens, an F-shaped taxiing area consisting of a series of concrete tracks extends from the main perimeter track, midway between the western and the central fighter pen. Originally, three Blister hangars were located at the end of the tracks, but these are now gone. Concrete footpaths run between the eastern and central fighter pen to support buildings, now lost, beyond the fighter pens. A short road allowed vehicle access to the flight offices. Rectangular and circular slightly raised platforms represent the remains of a sleeping shelter for each fighter pen, flight offices, squadron offices, a parachute store, a drying room and a latrine.

Source: English Heritage

Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.