Control Tower Museum
Suffolk IP5 3QR
The historic RAF Martlesham Heath Airfield, 6 miles (9.6 km) east of Ipswich in Suffolk has disappeared under a housing estate but its extraordinary history is commemorated and recorded in the Old Control Tower Museum.
Martlesham Heath’s (MH) history began in the First World War when it was first used as a Royal Flying Corps (RFC) airfield. It became home to the Aeroplane and Armament Experimental Establishment and was responsible for the development of many aircraft and much of the equipment used in World War II, particularly Radar.
Royal Air Force Squadrons Nos. 15 and 22 were based at MH in the 1920s and No 64 Squadron arrived in the 1930s. At the outbreak of World War II in 1939 the Experimental Station was moved to safer premises in Wiltshire and RAF Fighter Command moved in. It was the most northerly station of No. 11 Group RAF Fighter Command and played a crucial role in the Battle of Britain.
Martlesham Heath was a huge station with squadrons of Bristol Blenheim bombers, Hawker Hurricanes, Supermarine Spitfires and Hawker Typhoons operating from the airfield. Of all the brave men who flew from MH some of the best known are Robert Stanford Tuck and Squadron Leader Douglas Bader.
MH holds a special place in the hearts of American airmen. Number 71 (Eagle) Squadron formed from American Volunteers in Britain operated from the station in the middle and end of 1941. There is a magnificent memorial to Eagle Squadron in Grosvenor Square in London.
In 1943 MH was assigned temporary status as a USAAF Air Base and became Station 369. The 356th Fighter Group flew Republic P-47 Thunderbolts until they were replaced by North American P-51 Mustangs in November 1944. The Group provided escorts for the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress/Consolidated B-24 Liberator bombers that attacked such objectives as industrial areas, missile sites, airfields, and communications.
With the departure of the American forces at the end of the War, MH reverted to RAF use. Unfortunately the runways were too short for jets and MH had outlived its usefulness. The Air Ministry closed the base in 1963.
Martlesham Heath Aviation Society
The Society was formed to promote public awareness of the role played by Martlesham Heath in aviation history. Members must have a family connection with the base’s operations so naturally many Americans belong. The Museum is full of items donated by the 250+ members ranging from uniforms (including some parachute silk knickers!) to photographs and bravery citations.
This fascinating museum pays tribute to all the wonderful men and women of RAF/USAAF Martlesham Heath who helped win the Second World War, many making the ultimate sacrifice.
Plan Your Visit
Accommodation - Search & Book through Expedia here:
Free but donations are always welcome.
Opening Dates & Times
Every Sunday from the first Sunday in April to the last Sunday in October 14:00 – 17:00 hours
Not available. Access to the museum is by a stairway entrance and there are no disabled facilities.
Refreshments - Tea and Coffee from the NAAFI bar.
Open Day & Events
Web: Martlesham Heath Aviation Society/ Open Day
If you live in the area and would like to know more about the Society, visitors are welcome to attend the monthly meetings go to Web: Martlesham Heath Aviation Society/ Meetings
Contact & Further Information
+44 (0)1473 624 510 or (0)1473 435 104
The MHAS Control Tower Museum website has excellent 'Getting There information'.
Google Maps - MHAS Control Tower Museum