Welcome, and glad you found us. This website serves in the public domain for those inquiring or curious about RAF Station Kirknewton and the USAF and their Top Secret mission during the cold war years of 1952-1966.
A directory on the left are links to background information. Click on the underlined topic to view.
The abandoned RAF Station Kirknewton was first evaluated by the USAF in January 1952. In the words of Colonel Russell T. French in his now declassified (but at the time Top Secret) oral history interview as follows.
"…it was about 6 o'clock in the morning. It was probably the most dreary picture I ever had in my life--cold, overcast, and everything. I finally managed to find out where (redacted) was and managed to get hold of a cab, and after several wrong turns, we arrived at a desolate bunch of buildings which had formerly been used as a PW camp for Italian prisoners. They were basically concrete block buildings and not very many of them. Also, a big old hangar which had originally been used by the (redacted) to use as storage for their aircraft because it had been built originally for a fighter field. But there was a big hill located at one end of the airfield, and I guess after (redacted) lost several aircraft into the hill, they discontinued all operation. Then it became an Italian PW camp, and then subsequently a possible location for (redacted). …. a wider part of the base, was an opportunity for housing to be put into that area…...the other part which is the airfield site is where the antenna field would go…….nothing there except an old hangar and no water or anything there. It was sort of a dreary picture. I remember returning from the so called site survey and my recommendation basically was that although it appeared from a geographical standpoint and looking at the map an ideal location, ….it was not a very practical place to move…...but that was sort of glossed over in a hurry by the powers-to-be to advise me that not only were we going to send (redacted) but I also was probably going to be the commander of it. So we kind of rolled with the punches. When I returned we had a cadre I believe of about 30 enlisted people and I think six officers. And we departed on or about July 1952…….arriving at (redacted). When we first got there we stayed in various places--I know that the six officers with me arranged to stay in a boarding house (redacted) …..stayed there for I guess approximately three months, and in the meantime were able to get some support (redacted) to get some tents put up and get some camp stoves and make the place habitable for the small cadre. Then we built some more tents to handle the people--the typical WWII type thing of putting down a wood base and putting the tent over it and had the old diesel camp stove which used fuel oil to heat with. So the situation was quite primitive for the first year, and then managed to get some construction…...as we continued to build up the base from the six officers and 30 men until we got up to I guess 3-400 men who were living in tents and we were operational. In fact we were operational from the very beginning. I think we had one or two positions that we got going in a matter of three or four weeks after we were there".
Operations in August 1952 had 17 officers and 155 airmen living in tents with wooden floors. During 1953 construction of support facilities was undertaken and the airmen began moving into prefab H-frame buildings heated with small oil burners. During 1953 the staffing level was brought up to about 450 personnel in the 37th Radio Squadron Mobile (RSM) and the 7535th Air Base Squadron was formed to provide base support services with additional personnel. The 37th RSM was redesignated the 6952nd RSM in May 1955 and became the 6952nd Radio Group in July 1963 and stood down in 1966. The tour of duty was three years for single and married personnel accompanied by family. It is estimated that approximately 3000 airmen or more served at RAF Station Kirknewton from 1952 through 1966. Around 1900 names are on the alumni list. This list can be viewed by clicking on Alumni Information in the Directory on the upper left.
Not much exists today of the old RAF Station Kirknewton site. The upper main site has been demolished and the area now is high-end expensive homes. The buildings utilized by the USAF at the lower site have been demolished except for 2 airplane hangars that are in use today. The runways on the lower site still exist and are utilized by the 661st Volunteer Glider Squadron (VGS). The 661st resides in temporary administrative buildings and utilize one of the hangars to house the gliders. The other hangar is utilized by local residents for private airplanes.
A reunion of former USAF members that served at RAF Station Kirknewton was held in Edinburgh, Scotland September 18-23, 2013. The 661st hosted the group for a luncheon and presentation on their glider activities. This was followed by a presentation to them on the USAF years at RAF Station Kirknewton.
From 2000-2014 a members only website called Clan Kirknewton existed on Myfamily.com where members could share memories and photos. Myfamily.com stopped providing that service on September 30, 2014. A new members only website has been established on spokt.com. If you served at RAF Station Kirknewton during this time, and would like to be a member, send me an email and I will direct you to the proper contact.
Harry Hathhorn, Webmaster
RAF Station Kirknewton (Aug 1955--Nov 1957)
Det 3-2, Samsun, Turkey (Dec 1957--Dec 1958)