Leuchars Station

(RAF Leuchars)

A British Army base on the northern shore of the Eden Estuary in Fife, Leuchars Station is located 3 miles (5 km) northwest of St. Andrews. Formerly RAF Leuchars, the base transferred to the army in 2015 following a defence review. The RAF fast jets were reassigned to RAF Lossiemouth and Leuchars has become the home of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, who relocated here from Germany.

RAF Leuchars' association with aviation can be traced back to 1911, when military balloons were operated nearby. The first runways were built for the Royal Flying Corps in 1916. Once a Royal Navy Air Squadron (RNAS) fleet training station, it eventually became home to 43 and 111 squadrons of the Royal Air Force, which flew Tornado F3's, as well as the Army Air Corp Gazelle helicopters and RAF Grob T1 training planes. It was also home to the Leuchars mountain rescue team, but this was disbanded in 2013.

During the Second World War, Leuchars was the secretive point-of-entry for flights carrying ball-bearings from neutral Sweden, which was surrounded by German-occupied territories. These were vital for the British armaments industry and more than 500,000 tons arrived at Leuchars. The flights also carried refugees fleeing the Nazis including, in 1943, the Danish nuclear scientist Neils Bohr (1885 - 1962).

Leuchars was the RAF's preferred location for night training because of its relative isolation, as well as the site for many large scale exercises, such as Tactical Leadership Training exercises and Qualified Weapons Instructor Courses. A popular 'Battle of Britain' air-show took place here each September from 1946 until 2013, attracting up to 50,000 people. Leuchars had the International Air Transport Association (IATA) location code "ADX" (after St. Andrews).

The runways are still maintained and an RAF presence remains here as Leuchars is still the base for 612 (County of Aberdeen) Squadron Royal Auxiliary Air Force, 71 Engineer Regiment, the East of Scotland Universities Air Squadron and 12 Air Experience Flight.

A memorial at the entrance to the base is dedicated to the Norwegian squadron that was based here during the Second World War.

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