Hawarden Airfield was established on 1st September 1939 and was one of the main RAF airfields for the UK during the ‘Battle of Britain’. RAF Hawarden was classed as of the best yet dangerous training grounds for pilots, flying Spitfires and Hurricanes. It also held the RAF’s no 48 maintenance unit and until July 1957 stored, maintained and scrapped military aircraft, including Handley Page Halifax, Vickers Wellingtons, Horsa Gliders, Avro Lancasters and de Havilland Mosquitos.
A short concrete runway was built in 1939 for test flights and a further two runways were built in spring 1941. At the end of the war, between June and September 1945 more than 1000 aircraft were brought back to Hawarden to be broken up. The RAF then ceased their operations at Hawarden on 31st March 1959.
Hangars were constructed at Hawarden airfield for the many aircraft they stored, some which still remain in operation today. Many of the hangars still show the scares of war time Britain, including various bomb damage.
The de Havilland Aircraft Company took over the main Vickers-Armstrong site, and became part of Hawker Siddeley Aircraft Company in the 1960s. The first Hawker Siddeley HS125 was designed and produced by the factory for nearly forty years. It was later sold to Raytheon Corporation but in 2007 they changed their name to Hawker Beechcraft. Hawker Beechcraft was purchased by Marshall Aviation and Defence Group and today, the HS125 variant is still maintained at Hawarden.
The history of Airbus UK can be traced all the way back to Hawker Siddeley’s merger with British Aircraft Corporation in 1977 when the Airbus A300 project was first envisaged. Since then, wings for a number of the Airbus variants have been produced at Hawarden Airfield. Today, Airbus UK employ over 6,500 people at the site making it one of Wales’ largest and most important employers.