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RAF Leuchars, Technical Side, General Service Aircraft Sheds

A Category A Listed Building in Leuchars, Fife

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Latitude: 56.3763 / 56°22'34"N

Longitude: -2.8757 / 2°52'32"W

OS Eastings: 346014

OS Northings: 720792

OS Grid: NO460207

Mapcode National: GBR 2N.27WM

Mapcode Global: WH7RR.SZTQ

Entry Name: RAF Leuchars, Technical Side, General Service Aircraft Sheds

Listing Date: 8 February 2010

Category: A

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 400362

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB51423

Building Class: Cultural

Location: Leuchars

County: Fife

Civil Parish: Leuchars

Unitary Authority Ward: Tay Bridgehead

Traditional County: Fife

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Designed by Lieutenant-Colonel BHO Armstrong, constructed by Melville, Dundas & Wilson of Glasgow, 1917-18. Timber truss roofs by D Anderson of Belfast. Rare survival of pair of 100ft wide by 15 bays General Service Aircraft Sheds (formerly group of 3; see Notes) with coupled very flat segmental arched corrugated metal roofs. Later alterations. Long brick outer walls with piers dividing bays, clearstorey with multi-pane fixed pane glazing. Various low lean-to annexes. Later corrugated metal entrance doors with flanking taller brick gantries.

INTERIOR: dominated by close-spaced whitewashed timber Belfast roof trusses with diagonal grid infill. Later concrete floor.

Statement of Interest

The only surviving examples of their type in Scotland and one of only a handful remaining in the United Kingdom. Constructed for the Royal Naval Air Service, these are the oldest hangars in use in Scotland and they have been in continuous use since before the formation of the Royal Air Force on 1st April 1918. Surviving airfield buildings from the First World War period are extremely rare as most were expected to be temporary and built for the duration of the conflict only. This surviving pair are an important part of aviation and military history. Originally part of a group of three paired sheds, only two now remain. They are a highly significant part of RAF Leuchars and form a distinctive landscape feature. The sheds are of standard War Office design and correspond to drawing number 332/17 in the Royal Air Force Museum (RAFM) archive, which is dated 1917.

The original specification for the flooring was re-inforced concrete and it is probable that they would have been constructed with timber doors with asbestos cladding. The Belfast truss roof design originated from the Ulster flax industry as a way of creating a very economical wide span roof.

The sheds were originally built to accommodate the training of Royal Flying Corps and Royal Naval Air Station pilots for campaigns in Europe during the First World War. Adjacent to the Eastern most shed is a WWI flight office, and the original plan form for the sheds incorporated a single storey suite to the centre 7 bays, which would have housed workshops on the technical side and offices and dressing rooms on the domestic side.

The standard design of the sheds for the Directorate of Fortifications and Works at the War Office was by Lieutenant-Colonel BHO Armstrong, considered by AiX to be the most important War Office architect of WWI. He was also responsible for the design of the Armstrong Hut, a collapsible timber and canvas hut used on operations by the British Army and at RAF bases for temporary accommodation.

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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