Abandoned & Little-Known Airfields:

France, Picardy: Somme

© 2010 - 2012 by RonaldV.


Peronne Updated 3 Sep 2012 - Cappy Added 7 May 2011

Cramont Updated 3 Sep 2012 - Rosières/Méharicourt Updated 3 Sep 2012 - Montdidier-Fignières Added 18 Jul 2011

Abbeville Updated 3 Sep 2012 - Poix-en-Picardie Added 26 Dec 2012

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Peronne

 

49°52'11"N 003°01'43"E

 

Runway: 04/22 - 1500x50meters/5250x164feet - concrete (CLOSED)

Runway: 09/27 - 2550x45meters/7900x..feet - concrete (CLOSED)

Runway: 09/29 - 1390x30meters/4560x98feet - asphalt/concrete

 

Peronne Airport (french: Aérodrome de Peronne, also known as Aérodrome Peronne-St.Quentin, Peronne-St.Quentin Airport,
"A-72 Peronne Airfield" and Saint Quentin-Estres Air Base) is an airfield 121miles/195kilometers north of Paris, France.

The airport was built before World War II to serve St.Quentin and consisted of a terminal, some support buildings and a grass airfield.

 

Peronne airfield in June 1939 (IGN).

 

In June 1940 the airfield was seized by the Germans during the Battle of France.

The Germans did not use the airfield for several years however, they returned only in 1944 to base FLAK units at the airfield.

Additionally they began building two 1500m all weather concrete runways, taxiways and dispersals at the airport

They did so presumably in support of fortifications of Pas-de-Calais, which is where the Germans believed the Allied invasion would take place.

From mid-June Jagdgeschwader 5 (JG5 or Fighter Wing 5) was assigned to the airfield with Messerschmidt Bf109G day interceptors.

JG5 was to defend against USAAF 8Air Force bomber formations that were attacking mainland Europe.

From that moment on it also came under frequent attack from 9 Air Force B-26 bombers and P-47 fighter bombers whenever 8 Air Force was within range of the German interceptors

The attacks were timed to have the maximum effect possible to keep the interceptors pinned down on the ground and be unable to attack the heavy bombers.

 

In early September 1944 the US 9th Army swept through the area, heading towards St.Quentin.

On 5 September the 862nd Engineer Aviation Battallion moved in to rehablitiate the base for the use by American aircraft.

They declared the airfield operationally ready for Ninth Air Force combat units a day later (only a few days after its capture from German forces), under the designator Advanced Landing Ground "A-72 Peronne Airfield".

Both runways were operational: 04/22 at 5250x164feet, and 09/27 at 5400x164feet

In addition to the clearing of the airfield, they built tents for billeting and support facilities.

An access road was built to the existing road infrastructure, along with a dump for supplies, ammunition, and gasoline drums, facilities for drinkable water and a minimal electrical grid for communications and station lighting.

The following 9 Air Force units are known to have used the airfield:

474th Fighter Group, from September until 1 October 1944 flying P-38 Lightnings

397th Bombardment Group, from 6 October 1944 until 25 April 1945 flying B-26 Marauders

When the combat units moved out, Peronne was turned over to Air Technical Service Command, and became an Air Depot and a storage depot for large numbers of surplus aircraft, whose units had returned to the United States via ship.

Ultimately Peronne air field was turned over to the French Air Ministry on 30 June 1945

 

Aircrew posing in front of their B-26 at A-72 Peronne airfield in 1944/1945 (source).

 

Peronne airfield in August 1947 (IGN).

 

Under French control the base sat abandoned for several years.

It is said that there was too much unexploded munitions at the site which needed to be removed and too many wrecks of German and American aircraft.

Many of the buildings at the base were destroyed during the war and although some had been repaired by the American combat engineers, most were in ruins.

While there may be some truth in the above statement, there are no aircraft wrecks visible in 1947 aerial photography.

The French Air Force had no interest in what they considered a German facility.

Even if they were interested, there was no money available to restore and rebuilt the prewar airport.

The French Air Ministry therefore leased the land, concrete runways, structures and all, out to farmers for agricultural use, after having sent in unexploded ordnance teams to remove the dangerous munitions.

5 years after the war, as a result of the perceived Cold War threat of the Soviet Union, the air base at Peronne was offered to the United States Air Force.

The offer by the French Air Ministry was to demonstrate to NATO the French commitment to establish a modern Air Force Base at the site.

NATO faced several problems when attempting to solve the air power survival equation in the face of a Warsaw Pact first strike.

Survival in case of both conventional and nuclear wars had to be considered.

As the main air bases were built on relatively small parcels of land with very limited dispersal space, it was decided to use Peronne airfield as an emergency "backup" airfield, consisting of a "bare bones" facility of a runway with minimal facilities intended for use by all NATO air forces to disperse their aircraft in case of all-out war.

It was to be known as Saint Quentin-Estres Air Base, and reconstruction began in 1954 when French demolition companies returned to Peronne and began demolishing the structures and removing the wreckage of the World War II air base.

French Army Explosive demolition teams were brought in to safely remove unexploded ordinance remaining from the war and the site was prepared for construction.

A modern all-weather concrete NATO-standard jet runway of 2550m/7,900feet was laid down over the former German 09/27, along with taxiways and dispersal areas for three fighter squadrons.

The usual dispersal areas (one per squadron), designed in a circular system of hardstands called marguerites, were omitted however.

The airfield only received a single runway, a parallel taxi track, and a small platform on either end of the runway.

Other than the occasional touch-and-go landing of NATO (mostly USAF) aircraft, Saint Quentin-Estres Air Base was never used, not even for exercises.

When the French decided to withdraw from the integrated military component of NATO in 1967, the base was abandoned.

 

April 1955 overview of Peronne (IGN)

 

May 1958 overview of Peronne (IGN)

 

March 1963 overview of Peronne (IGN)

 

After NATO had abandoned the air base, it was acquired by local government and redeveloped into a commertcial airport.

A small part of the old german 22 runway was used as a parking ramp.

A new tower, terminal and a small hangar for private aircraft were erected.

Today the NATO runway and taxiway are still used by the airport, although the active runway has been shortened to about half the length of the NATO runway.

The wartime 04/22 still exists, but in a very deteriorated condition, and with the exception of the part that is now the platform it is unused.

North of the platform is now an industrial area, where a small portion of the old wartime 04/22 runway can still be seen.

 

2001 overview of Peronne (IGN)

 

2008 airfield map of Peronne

 

Peronne air field in 2010 (Google Earth)

 

Airfield tower in 2008 (© 2008 Marc Roussel, via Wikipedia).

 

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Cappy

 

49°55'24"N002°45'30"E


Cappy airfield was a Geman forward airfield in the Somme valley in France during World War I.

It was in use by Jagdgeschwader 1 flying Fokker D1 'Dreideckers' and some Albatross in the spring of 1918

The pilots were living at nearby Chateau de Cappy.

The airfield became famous on 21 April 1918 when German fighter ace Manfred Freiherr (english: baron) von Richthoven took off from the airfield for what was to become his last mission.

Von Richthofen took off around 10AM in a flight of six triplanes, one of them piloted by Herman Goering, who would later become the notorious Air Marshall of World War II.

While in a dogfight with several RAF Camels the Red Baron manoeuvred his aircraft too close to the ground, where the fighter ace of 80 aerial victories was mortally shot by ground fire.

A British pilot flew over the German aerodrome at Cappy and dropped a note informing the Germans of Richthofen's death.


Cappy was only a forward airfield, with no permanent facilties.

In fact, Richthovens geschwader was known as the Flying Circus because they travelled in tents.

The airfield returned to agricultural use after the war.


The location of Cappy airfield in 2007.


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Cramont

 

50°09'46"N002°03'22"E

 

Runway: 10/28 - 500x40meters - concrete

 

Cramont airfield (Aerodrome de Cramont, also known as Flugplatz Yvrench) was an airfield 35 kilometers northwest of Amiens in France

It was first used in the first quarter of 1916 by the 40th Ballooning Company (french: 40ème Compagnie d'Aérostation).

After World War I the land was abandoned, and returned to agricultural use.

In 1940 the terrain was prepared for use by Air Groups of the British Expeditionary Force in France

It is not clear if they ever got to use it however.

German troops found the terrain and used it from June 1940 onwards.

Stationed at the airfield, which the Germans called Flugplatz Yvrench, were the following units:

I./JG54, between 6 June and 10 June 1940, flying Bf109E fighters

I./JG76, between 7 June and 16 June 1940, flying Bf109E fighters

I./ and II./ZG26 between June and November 1940, flying Bf110 fighters

II./ZG26, between 7 December 1940 and 9 February 1941.

 

From February 1941 activity at the airfield was very low, and only a small staff was left behind to take care of the installation.

It is not known if the airfield played a role in the construction and operation of a V-1 site built only 3 kilometers to the northwest.

The V-1 site was bombed on November 9th 1943, but there are no records that indicates the airfield was hit too.

In 1944, while the Allies were getting close to the airfield, it was destroyed by retreating German troops by digging deep trenches to prevent landings.

The airfield was captured by the British army.

In October 1944 an Armée de l'Air detachment settled on the airfield to prepare it for use, but the work was halted for unknown reasons.

The site was then made available to its former owners for recultivation.

 

Cramont airfield in 1947, showing the airstrip suffered at least one airstrike during the war, as can be seen from several bomb craters.

 

Cramont airfield in 2006, showing the airstrip remarkably intact, even 60 years after the end of WW-II.

 

In 2010 the airfields runway was still visible from the air.

In the nearby forest, which served as a dispersal area, remains of airfield buildings can still be found

Between the runway and the dispersals taxi tracks can still be identified.

 

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Rosières/Méharicourt (CLOSED)

 

49°48'53"N002°42'11"E

 

Runway: 15/33 - 1630x40meters - concrete (CLOSED)

Runway: 03/21 - 1650x40meters - concrete (CLOSED)

Runway: 10/28 - 1620x40meters - concrete (CLOSED)

 

Airfield Rosières/Méharicourt (french: Aérodrome Rosières/Méharicourt, also known as ALG B87 "Rosieres-en-Santerre") was an airfield 110 kilometers north of Paris, France.

The airfield was built by the Royal Air Force for the British Expeditionary Forces in France.

The airfield opened on 18 October 1939, and was home to 18Sqn and 57Sqn (Blenheims).

Both squadrons served at the airfield during the "Phoney War" and ultimately the Battle of France in the spring of 1940.

While deployed the British built three runways:

1. 1630x50meters

2. 1650x50meters

3. 1620x50meters

The first two were built (crossing each other) between the villages of Méharicourt and Maucourt, the third was to their north.

With the German advance closing in on the air base, the British withdrew from the airfield on 17 May 1940.

 

When the Battle of France was over, the Germans immediately began preparing for the Battle of Britain

Rosières/Méharicourt became home to III.Gruppe/Kampfgeschwader1 (III./KG1), an attack unit flying the Heinkel He111H medium bomber.

Between 1940 and 1941 different units of KG1 stayed at the base for longer or shorter periods of time.

By June 1941 KG1 left for duty at the eastern front.

Between spring 1943 and summer 1944 the airfield hosted I.Gruppe/Schlachtkampfgeschwader10 (I./SKG10)

It is unclear when the airfield was liberated, or when it was put into service by the Allies, but it must have been around August/September 1944

 

On 2 February 1945 the airfield became home to 21Sqn, 464Sqn and 487(NZ)Sqn , flying Mosquito FB.VI medium bombers.

They stayed until they left for Brussels-Melsbroek on 17 April 1945.

When the war ended the airfield became home to B-26 Marauders of the 387BG

They moved in on 24 May until they were withdrawn to the USA on 1 November 1945.

The airfield closed shortly after that.

 

French Air Ministry map of Rosières en Santerre in May 1945, when the aifield was still active.

 

Rosières en Santerre was located only 17kilometers north of Roye-Amy airfield, as is clearly visible from this map

 

Rosières en Santerre photographed in September 1947 clearly showing the fighter dispersals in the neighbouring villages (IGN).

 

Rosières en Santerre photographed in June 1961. The airfield had not really changed since the end of the war (IGN).

 

Today, nothing remains of the former airfield.

Its runways and most of its taxyways were broken up and returned to agricultural use in 1965.

Some minor parts of taxiways remain in use as local roads.

Very faint scarring on aerial photography from 2007 (Google Earth), caused by one of the runways, is still visible.

 

Rosières en Santerre photographed in July 1967. The airfields runways and taxiways were largely broken up during the previous years, but could still be made out in the soil (IGN).

 

Map overlaid on the area around 2004 (Geoportail, via).

 

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Montdidier-Fignières

49°40'23"N002°34'09"E


runway: 05/23 - appx.1500x50m - concrete (CLOSED)

runway: 09/27 - appx.1400x50m - concrete (CLOSED)

runway: 16/34 - appx.1700x50m - concrete (CLOSED)

runway: 09/27 - 750x100m/2482x328feet - grass


Air field Montdidier-Fignières (Aèrodrome Montdidier-Fignières, ICAO: LFAR) is an airfield 100 kilometers nort of Paris, France.

Very little can be found on the history of the airfield, but it was already in use by the Luftwaffe in 1944.

As a Luftwaffe airfield it was bombed several times by Allied bombers.

The airfields runways were laid down in an unusual six-pointed star shape.

After the Allies captured the airfield it was appearnatly not used, because it never received an ALG number.

It did receive a USAAF station number however (398 Montdidier), which might indicate at least some USAAF personnel were stationed at the airfield.


The Luftwaffe airfield Montdidier shot on a reconnaissance flight in 1944, superimposed on todays area.
The taxitrack in the lower left today forms the access road to the present day airfield (Google Earth).


After the war the airfield was largely broken up, and returned to agricultural use.

A small light aircraft airfield still exists at the airfield, although it is not known whether this field is new.

It is located on the taxitrack (which it uses as an access road) to the old 09/27 runway.

If you know what to look for, more remains of platforms and taxitracks of the old wartime airfield are still visible.


Montdidier in 2007, the access road to the present airfield is clearly recognisable (Google Earth).



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Abbeville

 

50°08'32"N001°49'52"E

 

runway: 02/20 - 1600x45m - concrete (CLOSED)

runway: 02/20 - 1250x22m/4100ft - asphalt

runway: 02/20 - 900x100m/2950x300ft - grass

runway: 09/27 - est.1600x45m - concrete (CLOSED)

runway: 13/31 - 1475x45m - concrete (CLOSED)

runway: 13/31 - 570x85m/1870x250ft - grass

 

Abbeville airfield (french: Aérodrome d'Abbeville - Buigny-Saint-Maclou, also known as Abbeville/Ducrat or Advanced Landing Ground B-92, ICAO: LFOI) is an airfield 150 kilometers north-northwest of Paris, France.

It is not known when exactly the airfield was built, but it already existed in 1939

It was in use with the British Expeditionary Forces in 1940

Detachments of 607 Squadron with Gloster Gladiators were based here, along with 151 Squadron Hurricanes, before they were withdrawn to English bases in June 1940.

 

Detail of an aerial photo of Abbeville airfield on 5 June 1939. Back then, the entire airfield was located east of the road between Abbeville and Le Plessiel. Visible are three hangars and a circle with the name ABBEVILLE spelled across (IGN.fr).

 

After the Battle of France the Luftwaffe moved Zerstörergeschwader76 (ZG76) 'Schlageter' with Bf110Cs onto the airfield, along with Fw190As of Jagdgeschwaders JG26.

It was the Luftwaffe that upgraded the airfield with three concrete runways in the configuration that we can still see today.

It is unclear when exactly this occurred though.

The airfield was a major German fighter base between 1940 and 1943 with over 50 aircraft based here.

JG26 gained a considerable reputation with Allied pilots, who referred to the yellow nosed Bf109s as the "Abbeville Boys", although JG26 were never permanently present at the base.

Instead the Gruppen and Staffeln of the Geschwader moved from base to base throughout occupied Europe and used Abbeville only as their home base.

Fom 1941 the first two Gruppen of JG26 converted to the Fw190D.

III./JG26 began conversion, but converted back and remained with the Bf109 until the end of the war.

 

Abbeville was liberated by Polish troops around 3 September 1944.

Days before German sappers had blown up much of the airfield to prevent it from falling into Allied hands undamaged.

Soon after te liberation repairs to the damage to the airfield were made.

The airfield was only sparcely used however.

Only by March 1945 did a new unit arrive: 61st Troop Carrier Group (USAAF), who remained at the airfield until May.

They never brought their C-47 Skytrain squadrons to the airfield though, as those were needed in England in preparation for Operation Varsity.

It did provide services in the European theatre, hauling fuel, ammunition, food, medicine and other supplies, as well as performing Medevac flights.

Most sources claim that after the war the airfield was abandoned.

IGN photography from 1947 does not support that claim, however.

Although they show X markings on parts of the runways, they also show new threshold markers on other parts.

As 1952 photos showed a communications board that was not present in 1947 photos, it is unclear if or when the airfield did close.

 

Abbeville airfield in October 1947, showing the considerable upgrades the Germans had made to the once very modest airfield.
Also clear is the regular pattern in the runways which proves that the damage to the runways in 1944 was preplanned (IGN).

 

Overview of Abbeville airfield April 1952. Two hangars can be seen near the grass field that was Abbeville aerodrome
before 1940. Also visible (in the original large photo) is a communications board northwest of the 09 threshold, and large
X-markings on the 13/31 runway and on a 400m stretch of the west side of the 09/27 runway. The 02/20 is not marked
with any X's, suggesting it is still open (IGN).

 

In 1971 the old grass Abbeville flying field had been moved to the west side of the former German Fliegerhorst. Instead
of a grass flying field, the airfield got two grass runways and a single long concrete runway (02/20). Although the X was
removed from the 13/31 runway-head, this was only done so it would not prevent the use of the grass 02/20 runway.
The rest of the runway was by this time located outside the airfield, as was the 09/27 runway, which is getting overgrown.
The wartime fighter dispersals have almost completely disappeared (IGN).

 

Today most of the airfield has been converted for other uses.

Its former three runways are still recognisable from the air, but only one remains (partially) in use.

While the east-west runway has almost completely been overgrown (or even removed), the former 13/31 concrete runway is still largely intact, although several buildings have been placed on it.

Only the 02/20 runway is still fully visible, although a newer but smaller asphalt runway has been laid out on its surface.

Two smaller grass runways compensate for the loss of the larger concrete runways.

One building at the airfield appears to have been from World War II and remains in use.

A preserved ex-Adl'A Mystère stands on a pole next to the entrance of the airfield.

 

Overview of Abbeville airfield in 2007 (Google Earth).

 

Approach to runway 20 in Aug 2009 (gsaviation.co.uk).

 

Approach to runway 02 (microlightlife.blogspot.com).

 

The preserved Mystère fighter near Abbevilles entrance (Panoramio).

 

2011 Abbeville visual approach chart.

 

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Poix-en-Picardie

49°48'37"N 001°58'37"E

 

runway: 04/22 - 1500x50m/5160x165ft - concrete

runway: 09/27 - 1500x50m/5160x165ft - concrete

 

Poix-en-Picardie air field (Aèrodrome de Poix-en-Picardie, also known as ALG B-44 Poix) was an airfield 100 kilometers north-northwest of Paris.

The airfield was built as an emergency landing ground with a small meteo office and a hangar in the 1930s.

It was occasionally also used for air fetes and rallyes.

The airfield was confiscated by the Armee de l'Air on the breakout of war with Germany in September 1939.

The Adl'A stationed 13 Amiot 143 bombers at the field.

They were replaced by Bristol Blenheims of the RAF's 59 Sqn on 1 November 1939.

At the time, the airfield was nothing more than a flying field, as humourously pointed out to the French by RAF Group Captain (Col.) Maidwell during his visit in September.

The following winter was particularly harsh, making flight operations extremely difficult and dangerous.

On 20 May 1940, those Blenheims escaped to Great Britain during the Battle of France.

 

Three Bristol Blenheim Mark IVs of No. 59 Squadron RAF take off from Poix.
ROYAL AIR FORCE: FRANCE, 1939-1940. © IWM (C 1166)

 

Under German control, the airfield was rapidly expanded from its prewar 30 hectares to 260 hectares.

Taxitracks, parkings and a large hangar were built in the forest north of the airfield.

This was also the time when the two runways were constructed.

The airfield became very important for Luftwaffe night fighter operations.

In late August-early September the airfield was liberated.

Repairs were made to the 04/22 runway and the airfield was pressed into service as Advanced Landing Ground B-44 Poix.

Although B-44 indicated this to be a RAF ALG, it was actually used by USAAF 314 Troop Carrier Group, between February and October 1945.

From Poix, the 314th released gliders carrying troops and equipment to the Wesel area on 24 March 1945 when the Allies launched the airborne assault across the Rhine.

When they were neither training for, nor participating in airborne operations, they hauled supplies such as food, clothing, gasoline, aircraft parts, and ammunition.

314 TCG also carried wounded personnel to rear-zone hospitals.

Operations brought them throughout the ETO and MTO (European and Mediterranean Theatre of Operations).

After V-E Day, the group evacuated Allied prisoners from Germany.

Later, as part of the European Air Transport Service (EATS), 314 TCG made scheduled flights to transport freight and personnel in Europe until October, when they moved to Villacoublay.

 

French postwar map depicting the "Size of the aviation terrain occupied by the German army between 1940 and 1944"
Uploaded with ImageShack.us

 

Although the airfield was not used afther the war, it remained relatively intact, including the large hangar, until at least 1960.

At some point after that, the airfield slowly began to be demolished, but not completely.

Even today, portions of the former airfield can still be found.

The location of both runways can still be seen from aerial photography.

Both ends of the 09/27 runway still exist, as does the floor of the Hangar and the taxitracks leading to it..

Although the airfield is nowadays bisected by the A29 highway, portions of taxitracks even still exist near the exit to the D901 road.

The gasoline/rest area at this exit is located at a street aptly called "L'aérodrome".

 

Composite photo of the airfield in September 1947, two years after the war had ended (IGN).

 

Poix-de-Picardie airfield photographed on 30 April 1952, showing no ativity or major changes at the airfield (IGN).

 

By 1961, parts of the airfield were finally beginning to fade. The dispersals and facilities on the south side were disappearing fastest (IGN).

 

The location of the former airfield in 2007. The runways (red lines) and some taxiways were still recognisable.
The A-29 highway crosses the site, with the "L'aerodrome" service station located in the middle of the former
airfield. The hangar was located in the red circle (Google Earth).

 

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If you have any information about airfields (listed and unlisted) in Picardy, please email RonaldV.

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