RNAS Killingholme, Lincolnshire
Visit Date(s): 27/02/12
A strip of land adjoining the Admiralty Oil Depot at Immingham was authorised as one of several coastal air stations. Originally called RNAS Immingham, it was soon given the name RNAS Killingholme. At the outbreak of World War One at least four aircraft (including a German designed bi-plane) were based at Killingholme, tasked with protecting the nearby oil depot.
By the end of 1914 Killingholme’s complement of aircraft grew as several Sopwith Scouts arrived and were soon employed on anti-submarine duties. Seaplanes also started to make an appearance at Kilingholme in response to the increasing U-boat menace.
In mid 1914, the first hangar was erected, a wood and canvas Bessoneau type. This was followed by the first of four 68 x 77 ft seaplane sheds which were completed in September 1914. In October, the Bessoneau hangar was dismantled and a seaplane slipway measuring 700 x 60 ft was constructed, allowing access to the River Humber. Landplanes continued to use the grass strip. A further hangar measuring 177 x 56 ft was added as the complement of aircraft increased.
The large size of the newer seaplanes coming into service dictated the need for an even larger hangar and during 1916 the largest one ever constructed in the county was completed, measuring an enormous 800 x 200 ft. Later that year, two further hangars measuring 200 x 100 ft were constructed as well as a further two slipways measuring 850 ft long and 35 ft wide.
During the summer of 1917 Killingholme was transferred to the United States Navy who would assist with North Sea patrol work. The first American forces arrived in early 1918 and had worked up to operational strength by May of that year, undertaking coastal patrols in Short- manufactured seaplanes. The main body of US service personnel arrived on 1st June 1918 on the USS Jason which also carried Curtis flying boats.
The Americans stayed at Killingholme until January 1919, when the station was handed back to the Royal Air Force albeit briefly as it closed in 1920.
A field trip to the site in 2012 revealed the only physical remains of RNAS Killingholme to be a decaying seaplane slipway and a few support piles of a second slip, normally hidden at high tide.
(text: Noel Ryan)