RAF Marham

RAF Marham
Near Marham, Norfolk in England

Shown within Norfolk
Coordinates 52°38′54″N 000°33′02″E / 52.64833°N 0.55056°E / 52.64833; 0.55056Coordinates: 52°38′54″N 000°33′02″E / 52.64833°N 0.55056°E / 52.64833; 0.55056
Type Royal Air Force station
Site information
Owner Ministry of Defence
Operator Royal Air Force
Website RAF Marham
Site history
Built 1916 (1916)
In use 1916-Present
Garrison information
Group Captain Richard A. Davies MA
Airfield information
Identifiers IATA: KNF, ICAO: EGYM
Elevation 23 metres (75 ft) AMSL
Direction Length and surface
01/19 1,853 metres (6,079 ft) Concrete
06/24 2,783 metres (9,131 ft) Concrete

Royal Air Force Marham, or more simply RAF Marham (IATA: KNF, ICAO: EGYM), is a Royal Air Force station and military airbase near the village of Marham in the English county of Norfolk, East Anglia.

It is home to No. 138 Expeditionary Air Wing (138 EAW) and, as such, is one of the RAF's "Main Operating Bases" (MOB). No. 138 EAW primarily consists of three squadrons of Panavia Tornado GR4/GR4A multi-role fast-jet ground-attack aircraft.

The station crest depicts a glaring blue bull, symbolic of a deterrent and awarded in 1957 with the arrival of nuclear capability; the station motto is simply Deter. The crest also figures in the name of RAF Marham's local radio station - Blue Bull Radio 1278 AM.

In 2008 RAF Marham was officially granted the Freedom of the City of Norwich and, as such, is allowed to march through the streets of Norwich with 'bayonets fixed'; this is usually carried out on occasions such as the annual Battle of Britain parade held on 12 September every year. RAF Marham 'took over' the Freedom of the City of Norwich after the former holder, RAF Coltishall was officially closed in 2006.



Opened in August 1916 close to the former Royal Naval Air Station Narborough, later RAF Narborough, the Marham base was originally a military night landing ground on an 80-acre (320,000 m2) site within the boundary of the present day RAF Marham. In 1916, the aerodrome was handed over to the Royal Flying Corps (RFC). The aerodrome was closed in 1919 when the last units moved out.


The new concrete runways viewed in 1944

In 1935 work started on a new airfield which became active on 1 April 1937, with a resident heavy bomber unit from within 3 Group, RAF Bomber Command. The first squadron, No 38, arrived in May 1937 with Fairey Hendon bombers. In June No. 115 Squadron RAF re-formed at Marham with the Handley Page Harrow. 38 Squadron received Wellington I bombers in December 1938, followed in 1939 by 115 Squadron. The Wellingtons moved out in 1941 and Mosquitos from No. 105 Squadron arrived. Marham became part of the Pathfinder force. They also tested and proved the Oboe precision bombing aid.

During March 1944 RAF Marham closed for the construction of new concrete runways, perimeter track, and dispersal areas, marking the end of its wartime operations.


In the postwar period the airfield was home to RAF units operating the Boeing Washington aircraft, and later the V bomber force and tankers: Vickers Valiant and Handley Page Victor. The station is also one of the few large enough for the operation of United States Air Force Boeing B-52, and a number of these aircraft visited on exercises in the 1970s and 1980s.

During 1980-82 24 Hardened Aircraft Shelters were constructed to house future strike aircraft, which would eventually see the arrival of the Panavia Tornado in 1982. These shelters were equipped with the US Weapon Storage Security System (WS3), each able to store 4 WE.177 nuclear bombs.[1]

No. 138 Expeditionary Air Wing (138 EAW) was formed at RAF Marham on 1 April 2006; encompassing most of the non-formed unit personnel on the station. The EAW does not include the flying units at the station.

The current Station Commander is dual-hatted; as the commander of both the EAW and Station.

Queen Elizabeth II is the Honorary Air Commodore of Marham[2] and has made a number of visits to the airfield,[3] most recently on 1 February 2016.[4]

Current occupation


Six Wings are currently lodged at RAF Marham:


Tornado GR4 in flight over RAF Marham

The GR4A is the reconnaissance variant of the Panavia Tornado but the modern reconnaissance equipment used on the Tornado is interchangeable between the GR4 and GR4A variants, and as such each squadron uses a mix of the two variants (the reconnaissance equipment originally used in the GR4A variant is now obsolete).

Formerly the Tactical Armament Squadron (TAS), its mission statement is "To deliver and develop specialist, expeditionary armament capability to support UK defence policy". It has approximately 130 staff and is a sub unit of No 42 (Expeditionary Support) Wing.

Other units


The UK fleet of F-35B Joint Strike Fighter aircraft will be based at RAF Marham from 2018. RAF Marham, will be provided with 300 million pounds by the MOD, for new and enhanced infrastructure. The aircraft will be operated by 617 Squadron of the Royal Air Force (the Dambusters) and 809 Naval Air Squadron of the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm, alongside at least another frontline squadron from each service. All four squadrons will have a mix of RAF and Royal Navy personnel, and will deploy "detachments" aboard the Royal Navy's new Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers.,[5] though it is believed that inherently, the Royal Navy may undertake the majority of routine embarkations in the new vessels. Additionally, Marham will the be the only RAF station with a Royal Navy Met Office.

Supported units

RAF Marham is the 'parent' station of

Former squadrons

RAF Canberra PR9 from 39(1PRU) Squadron RAF
Squadron Present Aircraft
No. 12 Squadron RAF 1993–1994 Panavia Tornado
No. 13 Squadron RAF 1994–2011 Panavia Tornado
No. 15 Squadron RAF 1950–1951 Avro Lincoln
No. 27 Squadron RAF 1983–1993 Panavia Tornado
No. 35 Squadron RAF 1951–1956 Boeing Washington, English Electric Canberra
No. 38 Squadron RAF 1937–1940 Fairey Hendon, Vickers Wellington
No. 39 Squadron RAF 1993–2006 English Electric Canberra.[6]
No. 44 Squadron RAF 1946–1951 Avro Lincoln, Boeing Washington
No. 49 Squadron RAF 1961–1965 Vickers Valiant
No. 51 Squadron RAF 1917–1919 RAF F.E.2b
No. 55 Squadron RAF 1966–1993 Handley Page Victor
No. 57 Squadron RAF 1951-1951 Avro Lincoln, Boeing Washington
No. 57 Squadron RAF 1966–1986 Handley Page Victor
No. 90 Squadron RAF 1950–1956 Avro Lincoln, Boeing Washington, English Electric Canberra
No. 100 Squadron RAF 1976–1982 English Electric Canberra
No. 105 Squadron RAF 1942–1944 de Havilland Mosquito
No. 109 Squadron RAF 1943–1944 de Havilland Mosquito
No. 115 Squadron RAF 1937–1941 Fairey Hendon, Handley Page Harrow, Vickers Wellington
No. 115 Squadron RAF 1950–1957 Avro Lincoln, Boeing Washington, English Electric Canberra
No. 139 Squadron RAF 1942–1943 De Havilland Mosquito
No. 148 Squadron RAF 1956–1965 Vickers Valiant
No. 149 Squadron RAF 1950-1950 Avro Lincoln
No. 207 Squadron RAF 1951–1956 Boeing Washington, English Electric Canberra
No. 207 Squadron RAF 1956–1965 Vickers Valiant
No. 214 Squadron RAF 1956–1965 Vickers Valiant
No. 214 Squadron RAF 1966–1977 Handley Page Victor
No. 218 Squadron RAF 1940–1942 Vickers Wellington, Short Stirling
No. 242 Squadron RAF 1959–1964 Bristol Bloodhound surface-to-air missile
No. 617 Squadron RAF 1983–1994 Panavia Tornado GR1
No. 231 OCU
No. 232 OCU Handley Page Victor K2

See also


  1. Robert S. Norris and Hans M. Kristensen (November–December 2004), U.S. nuclear weapons in Europe, 1954–2004 (PDF), Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, retrieved 2009-06-11
  2. "The Queen visits RAF Marham, Norfolk, in her role as Honorary Air Commodore". British Monarchy. Retrieved 7 November 2015.
  3. "Queen visits RAF Marham". lynnnews.co.uk. Retrieved 7 November 2015.
  4. "Queen cheered on visit to RAF Marham: February 3". Eastern Daily Press. Retrieved 15 February 2016.
  5. "£300m for RAF Marham fighter maintenance hub". BBC. 20 February 2015. Retrieved 7 November 2015.
  6. Disbanded on 28 July 2006, ending 55 years of RAF Canberra operations.
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