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RAF Leuchars, Technical Side, Former Operations Block, Building 181

A Category C Listed Building in Leuchars, Fife

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Latitude: 56.3785 / 56°22'42"N

Longitude: -2.8801 / 2°52'48"W

OS Eastings: 345744

OS Northings: 721041

OS Grid: NO457210

Mapcode National: GBR 2N.20WX

Mapcode Global: WH7RR.QYQ0

Entry Name: RAF Leuchars, Technical Side, Former Operations Block, Building 181

Listing Date: 8 February 2010

Category: C

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 400361

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB51422

Building Class: Cultural

Location: Leuchars

County: Fife

Electoral Ward: Tay Bridgehead

Parish: Leuchars

Traditional County: Fife

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Probably H Binge and F Hawbest (see NOTES), probably 1938-39. Single storey largely rectangular plan flat-roofed brick former operations block now communications building with very small internal courtyard. Original concrete roof surmounted by later brick courses. Some multi-pane metal windows and cast iron rainwater goods.

Tall surrounding concrete wall with angled earth and turf bank. Concrete angled entrances to S and E.

INTERIOR: partially seen (2008). Internal courtyard with small document incinerator.

Statement of Interest

This former operations block dates from the 1930s expansion of RAF Leuchars when the Air Ministry designated the airfield to be one of six of strategic importance. Constructed around 1938 it would have been a key component of the operational side of the airfield. The building would have received and transmitted messages critical to the running of the airfield. Consequently the building was designed to withstand a near miss from both blast and incendiary bombs.

The operations block was built during the last two of a number of phases of pre WWII expansion at RAF Leuchars and communicated with Dutch aircrew carrying out patrols over the North Sea as well as monitoring the German Navy, in particular the ship the Admiral Tirpitz before its eventual sinking by RAF bombers in November 1944. Information from AiX suggests that the building may be a unique example of its type, with adaptations to the standard fighter base operations block design. The attribution for the design of the building to F Binge and H Hawbest is based research of similar RAF buildings.

RAF Leuchars is remarkable for its collection of airfield structures detailing aviation and military history from the First World War until the Cold War period and beyond. Within Scotland it is one of the best-preserved airfields and in UK terms it is considered to be within the ten most important sites. It is one of the earliest aerodromes in Scotland with balloon flights taking place from a nearby site in 1911 and the airfield itself became a permanent establishment by 1918. It was used as a training base in the 1920s and the site was chosen by the War Office for its major expansion of RAF Stations in the 1930s. A number of hangars and other buildings were added in 1938-9 and World War II acted as a catalyst for yet more development. Unusually, the airfield continued in use after the the Second World War and jet fighters were introduced in 1950. The construction of NATO Cold War defences in the early 1980s was further significant addition to the structures on the site. Buildings dating from all major stages of the airfield's development remain at Leuchars. It is currently the Royal Air Force's principal operational fighter station.

The site covers 371 hectares and has an east-west and northeast-southwest runway layout with perimeter taxiways and the typical arrangement of a domestic side and a technical side separated by a road.

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