History of Carnaby Airfield
During World War Two, the Air Ministry bought agricultural
land in Carnaby to build an emergency landing strip
for bombers. Carnaby was to be used for battle-damaged
bombers who were unable to reach their home bases and
for diversions due to poor weather conditions. The airfield
was built by a company called Monks and was operational
by March/April of 1944.
The runway was one of the longest in the country and
measured 3,000 yards long and 250 yards wide - five
times the normal width. Over 1,500 bombers made an emergency
landing at Carnaby, including the Allied Forces. Heavy
bombers, such as Halifaxes, Lancasters, Stirlings and
US bombers Liberators, Dakotas and Fortresses frequently
landed here, with Halifax bombers far outnumbering them
The airfield's busiest day came at the end of January
1945 when 65 USAAF bombers, mainly B24 Liberators, were
diverted there after an aborted raid on Brunswick. 20
Halifax bombers landed on Boxing Day and it is reported
than one airman counted over 100 Halifaxes, Lancasters
and Stirlings parked nose to tail on the airfield. The
famous "Dambusters" (617 Squadron) also landed
at Carnaby with their Grand Slam bombs still on board
when they were diverted due to bad weather over their
target in Germany. They remained grounded until the
next day when weather conditions improved.
Carnaby was also equipped with a special fog dispersal
system called F.I.D.O. (Fog Investigation Dispersal
Organisation). The F.I.D.O. system consisted of two
rows of pipes through which petrol was burnt. The pipes
ran down each side of the runway. When lighted, the
heat from the fire raised the air temperature enough
to disperse the fog above the runway. In effect it created
a hole or "window" through the fog allowing
pilots a clear view of the runway. Pilots were then
able to land their bomber safely on the runway. To light
F.I.D.O it used a staggering amount of fuel, 120,000
gallons of fuel per hour. However, it saved the lives
of many aircrew and aircraft.
The airfield remained open until well after the war,
closing as an emergency runway in 1946. In 1947 Blackburns
used the airfield for prototype trials for a short period.
Then in 1949, No 203 Flying School at Driffield used
the airfield as a relief landing ground for Meteors
and Vampires. By 1954, the airfield changed use again.
It was earmarked for use by the United States Air Force
(USAF), and then in 1959 it became a base for Thor missiles
and Bloodhound units before being finally closed as
an airfield in 1969.
The airfield was sold in 1972 for £50,000 to
East Riding of Yorkshire Council for development. It
is now a thriving industrial estate and the old runway
has been re-named Lancaster Road in honour of the bombers
that landed there.