The airfield is one of the oldest still open, having first become operational in 1916 as a RNAS unit. It passed to the RAF, on its formation in 1918, reaching a peak strength of 2500 personnel and an area of 650 acres. Following the First World War, Manston became the RAF School of Technical Training as well as the base for various Squadrons and other units. The second conflict once again found Manston deeply involved in the defence of the country, suffering from enemy attacks and providing shelter and facilities for all kinds of aircraft. In the Fifties the USAF took over, with their fighter/bomber Squadrons, to play their part in NATO. Since then Manston has developed a civil presence whilst still carrying out its RAF role.

Although many of the earlier buildings have now gone and the airfield is no longer in RAF hands, the Station remains much as it has been over the years and its vast runway still dominates the centre of Thanet.





W/C Roland Beamont at Manston.



Tempest Squadrons at Manston  

Squadron Date Squadron Leader
501 Squadron 2 August 44 - 22 September 44 S/L J. Berry
274 Squadron 17 August 44 - 20 September 44 S/L J.F. Edwards
80 Squadron  August 44 - 20 September 44 S/L R.L. Spurdle


RAF Manston today




The Memorial Building houses an ever increasing number of memorabilia, both military and civil, mainly from the 1939-45 World War II period and which are well worth viewing. 
The Spitfire Memorial Building was officially opened on 13th June 1981 to house Spitfire TB 752 and was the very first building to be erected on any RAF Station to house a gate-guardian aircraft. The Hurricane Memorial Building was officially opened by Dame Vera Lynn on the 7th October, 1988 to house Hurricane LF 751. Both buildings are still unique to any RAF Station; a fact of which RAF Manston is justifiably proud. The Spitfire and Hurricane Memorial Building is open throughout the year (with the exception of Christmas and Boxing Days). is the official Internet site for the Spitfire & Hurricane Memorial at Manston in Kent. 
Visit their Website and read more about RAF Manston and it´s history:






Images from:
Andy Noonan
Graham Berry
Text source:, thanks Jeff Smithson!