History

Langar Airfield in 1943

The area we use is near the cross on the right of the picture

Click on the pic and you can see the Horsa gliders dispersed around the airfield.

Club History – A Little About Our Site

This pic, thanks to J Beardmore- is of the Avro Model Club at Langar in 1948. The Lancaster in the background was refurbished and repainted for the Argentinian Air Force,  in return for Corned Beef! The AV Roe works were just across the road where the trading estate is now.

There is still a post at the side of the road where a gate was placed across the road when a Lancaster or Shackleton was being moved to and from the factory.

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With the increasing success of our Annual Fly-Ins, it is interesting to look back over half a century when Langar Airfield was the venue for a much earlier series of Model Airfield Rallies.

Life long aero modeller Doug Bolton was still at school when he attended these events and in this article previously published in a 1993 Newsletter, Doug looks back and gives this very interesting account of Model Flying at Langar Airfield:

Langar Airfield, by Doug Bolton

The Club has been flying at Langar since 1967. However, this was not the first time the airfield had been assailed by happy aero modellers. Some 20 years earlier, a series of very successful and highly acclaimed rallies were held there.

Following the end of WW2, there was a big upsurge in aero modelling. It had been a popular hobby during the war, in spite of severe shortages of balsa (obechi wood was a poor substitute) and a ban on powered model flying. Enthusiasm grew enormously when materials became available again, and the introduction of small diesel engines transformed the free flight power scene. With a new branch of the hobby, control-line flying, coming over from the U.S.A. it was hardly surprising that clubs were flourishing. (There were not the debilitating distractions of T.V. and computer simulators to cope with either!)

Several of the local model clubs, led by the South Notts. MFC. formed the rather impressive sounding Nottingham Area Council of Aero Modellers, to promote aero modelling and start organising rallies; at this time (around 1947) this meant catering for free-flight and control-line models. (Practical R/C. was still a few years away). To enjoy free flight lots of space is needed, in short, an airfield. Langar presumably was the nearest one to Nottingham that was available.

It is my recollection that the first of these rallies was held in 1947 but there doesn’t seem to be any reference in the “Club News” sections of the Aero modeller magazines of that time until reports of two very successful events held in 1948. The first of these, in March attracted 267 entries from 22 clubs from all over the Midlands area, for the Free-Flight Duration (rubber, glider & power) and Control-Line Aerobatic events, in spite of poor weather. (It could be just as bad in those days). A rather dull photograph appeared in the July 1948 edition of aero modeller. The second rally of that year in September, had slightly fewer entries at 245, but attracted almost 3000 spectators. This was quite remarkable (an understatement if ever there was one! -ed.) bearing in mind that not many families owned a car and petrol was still rationed. Many clubs would have hired coaches, also, aero modellers were generally younger and fitter in those days (all that chasing after Free-Flight models?) and everyone owned a bicycle. Many local enthusiasts would therefore have cycled to the event.

The prospect of carrying relatively fragile Free-Flight models on a bicycle sounds rather daunting, nevertheless the usual technique was to put the models in a largish model box which was then strapped to your back with webbing straps. The alternative was to tow a trailer – indeed if you aspired to flying ten foot span Free-Flight Gliders which were starting to become popular, it was the only way. Unfortunately, using a bicycle to tow a trailer is very hard work, also. The trailers were invariably home made and usually fitted with pram wheels which were prone to falling off every few miles or so.

Control-Line models, being fairly small and more robust could be carried on one’s back via a loop of string. The snag there was that oil from the engine dripped onto your clothing. Enthusiasts could easily be identified by the dirty oil streaks down the back of their jackets.

During the winter of 1948-49, some clubs in the Nottingham area decided to amalgamate into one large club and the Foresters MFC was born. There was some controversy at the inaugural meeting over the name but the only alternative proposed but rejected was ‘Trent MFC.’

The Foresters got off to a good start with another well-attended rally in September 1949, which was notable for the near perfect weather conditions. As a result, spectators were quite disappointed at the absence of prangs!

Sadly this seems to be the last of the Langar rallies. It was some time after this that the Royal Canadian Air Force moved into Langar, so maybe the airfield was no longer available. In the early fifties the Foresters acquired the use of Tollerton airfield, albeit shared with full size flying. Also, there was a steady decline in Free Flight in deference to Control Line and R/C, neither of which needed so much space. Alternatively, the organisers of the Langar rallies may have just run out of enthusiasm!

Were any, now famous names flying in the Langar rallies of those days? Well the placings in the contests do list a couple. A certain Mr. J. G. Eifflander of Macclesfield was an up and coming Control Line aerobatic flyer, later to become synonymous with the world famous PAW model diesel engines. Another famous (or infamous!) Control Line competitor was P. Russell from Worksop. Pete of course, still writes articles for the R/C. model magazines and for many years was the proprietor of the model shop in Worksop.

Not surprisingly, aero modelling has seen many developments since those far-off days. Nevertheless, vintage enthusiasts still enjoy flying the model designs of that era (with R/C. assist) and some of the features of engine design technology have hardly changed at all.

Oh, and yes, Langar airfield is still there.

DOUG BOLTON

Doug, who was one of the founder members of NRCS, and was Secretary for many, many years, died in hospital in December, 2004.

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Chairmans Note:

The REAL history of Langar started in 1942, (just about the time I was born) when the MOD built the airfield for Bomber Command. In late 1942, the first users of the airfield, 207 Squadron, with Avro Lancasters, flew many missions fom here, mostly to bomb Berlin, often with Incendiary and the unreliable and dangerous ‘Cookie’ bombs. One Lancaster, with a full bomb load, crashing on take-off and making a large hole in the ground to the North of the 01 runway. Over 270 aircrew lost their lives on missions from Langar, all in the space of nine months.

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One famous mission was the trip over Berlin with Wynford Vaughan-Thomas of the BBC, which he recorded live on a disc recorder, the first such event. They shot down a night fighter on the return journey!

The airfield then reverted to care and maintenance until used to store Horsa gliders for the invasion.

In later years Shackletons were maintained at Langar, AV Roe had a workshop over the Harby road. We even had a couple of Vulcans there in the sixties!

I hope to account some of the tales of 207 squadron in the future – there are some remarkable stories!

Bob.