Lat/Long:50.36.46N/02.29.08W Grid ref SY657793 .
RUNWAYS:Grass 2400ft.Heading unknown
" Now I spent a few months there(Chickerell) with a S51 Dragonfly. I cannot remember which year but it was 1951 - 53 and was before and after the Christmas period. Our airfield was a Sports Field that was fitted up with a canvas hangar and three narrow strips of concrete to allow us to push our Chopper into this hangar, that's if it was possible to get it onto the concrete strips out of the mud. This small Sports Field was the home of a group of RAF Bombing Range staff. There were three huts joined together to form a letter 'E' One leg was our living quarters, middle was the galley (cookhouse) and then the last was a recreational area. for we had a Christmas dance in it. The RAF staff numbered about 10 men. Mainly Armourers, a couple of Radio bods and a couple of GD and a Cook. There was a Flight Lieutenant in charge and he lived in a caravan away from the hut site. We ,the Naval detachment down from Gosport, were with our Pilot Lt. Cmd. Hank Phillips. An Observer , Photographer and 6 of us to maintain the chopper one of each trade. Engine, Airframe, Electrical and Radio along with two Supervisors. So for just one little helicopter we were nearly as many as the full contingent of the RAF. The bombing range that they were doing the siting and recording on was CHESIL Beach."
"I too was stationed at Chickerell in the early 50's. I am also ex RN and at the time was attached to 705 Naval Air Squadron, RNAS Gosport, (HMS Siskin). 705 squadron was equipped with S51 Westland built Dragonfly helicopters that were engaged in a primary role of training SAR pilots. These training exercises were carried out in Stokes Bay, Gosport. The recovery method employed used a semi circular scoop net mounted on a metal frame suspended from the aircraft's winch. As a young lad I had great fun throwing myself off the stern of a torpedo recovery launch and waiting for the SAR Dragonfly to scoop me out of the water. A great skive!!! The torpedo recovery launches were part of ATDU (Aerial Torpedo development Unit) which was based at the RN Air Station at Gosport. (They later moved to RNAS Culdrose). Somewhere, someone thought of the idea of putting a sonar set in a helicopter for submarine detection. So – a trials unit was formed with personnel from various places. I, with two others (dogs bodies with no specific remit) ended up at Chickerell. A Westland Whirlwind helicopter was modified, in that Westlands constructed a large open hatchway in the floor of the cabin over which they mounted a sonar set on an electric winch. This was the trials aircraft. A pit was dug with a digger, (no JCB's in those days) and was located underneath the helo pad with covered timbers, like an inspection pit only filled with water to depth of about six feet or so. This was for control testing and calibration purposes before going out on trials with the submarine. The cable drum took up a fair bit of space in the cabin, leaving just enough room for the operator and his instrumentation. The operators of the sonar set were general service (Pingers) ASDIC operators from HMS Osprey, the ASDIC training school at Portland just down the road from Chickerell. There were two pilots with the Whirlwind, a Lieutenant Commander RN and a Flight Lieutenant RAF. The maintenance crew for the Whirlwind were civilian engineers from Westland. Trials were Carried out with HM Submarine “Scotsman”, operating out of Portland. We had basic facilities at Chickerell, we were accommodated at HMS Osprey, Portland and were transported daily to Chickerell with bag meals for our lunches. The trials continued for some time before being successfully concluded. Since then, of course, it has become standard practice for helicopters to use aerial sonar detection methods on a world wide basis. On looking back, we were the trialists, the “sharp enders” from which it all started. The RAF personnel who were manning the quadrant sights on the Chesil Beach Bombing Range lived on site if my memory is correct. they were accommodated at Chickerell; we, on the other hand, must have caused an overload on the bed spaces and had to go to Portland for our accommodation. One of the highlights of my time at Chickerell, was delivering fresh bread and daily newspapers to the lighthouse keepers in the area during our time at sea with the “Scotsman”- great fun."
" I was in the RAF and stationed there from March 1958 to early mid 1959. At that time it was solely manned by RAF personnel and under the command of a Flight LT. Our responsibility service the bombing range off Chesil Beach. We had a control tower near the Moonfleet (N50 37 21 W02 31 58) and a radar unit(at N50 37 22 W02 31 59) which was later moved onto the beach at Burton Road Abbotsbury(approx N50 39 42 W02 37 49). We also had manned observation units on Chesil Bank with boats kept in a boathouse which were used to cross the inland water. RAF Chickerell obtained it's supplies from the Navy at Portland and personel would make weekly trips to Portland to collect food etc. The base closed in 1959 when it was discovered that a boat was unlawfully being built in the boathouse for an officer. All the personnel were transferred out and the bombing range closed down. Soon after that, the land was sold and subsequently became a housing development."