Royal Air Force Cosford is a Royal Air Force station in Cosford, Shropshire, just to the northwest of Wolverhampton and next to Albrighton.
RAF Cosford opened in 1938 as a joint aircraft maintenance, storage and technical training unit. It was originally intended to be opened as RAF Donington (the parish in which it is located) but to avoid confusion with the nearby army camp at Donnington it was named after Cosford Grange House which was located at the south western edge of the airfield. It has remained mainly a training unit to this day. The Fulton barrack block was built just before the Second World War as the largest single building barrack block in the UK. The block was named after Captain Fulton (an early Air Force pioneer) and paid for by his widow, Lady Fulton. It is a listed building and is now used for technical training.
No 2 School of Technical Training was formed in 1938 and during the Second World War it trained 70,000 airmen in engine, airframe and armament trades. No 2 School of Technical Training was subsumed into the No 1 School of Technical Training when it moved to Cosford from RAF Halton in Buckinghamshire.
In the Second World War No 12 Ferry Pool of the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA) was formed at Cosford. This unit delivered Spitfires from the base and returning with bombers or fighters for No 9 Maintenance Unit. Ferry flights were often flown by women pilots. Amy Johnson came to Cosford on more than one occasion.
In 1940 after the Fall of France a depot was established at RAF Cosford for Free Czechoslovak personnel joining the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.
The airfield was originally a grass strip. In 1940-41 there was a bad winter in which landing heavy aircraft such as Vickers Wellingtons and Avro Ansons turned the strip into a mudbath. Thereafter a paved runway was built that was 1,146 yards (1,048 m) long and 46 yards (42 m) wide.
A substantial Princess Mary's Royal Air Force Nursing Service hospital was established at RAF Cosford, the most westerly such RAF hospital in the UK. It consisted of wooden spurred huts. It was the main centre for repatriated prisoners of war, processing more than 13,000 by 1948. Many from the Far East had to remain for long term-treatment. The hospital was open to the general public as well as servicemen and women. It was closed on 31 December 1977 and demolished in 1980. For the three summers between 1978 and 1980 the empty hospital formed the venue for annual training camps for the Royal Observer Corps, with wards and theatres converted into barrack accommodation and training rooms.
The extensive sports facilities at Cosford, located around a banked indoor running track, became well known nationally through televised annual indoor championships that featured top athletes from all over the world.
There is also the Aerospace Museum at the site, which is a branch of the Royal Air Force Museum. Amongst the large collection of military aircraft is a unique collection of research and development aircraft, including one of two existing examples of the TSR2, a multi-role combat aircraft, controversially scrapped by the Wilson Government and still a point of discussion within the RAF. There are also collections of missiles and airliners.
The Cold War Exhibition opened on the 7th February 2007 by former prime minister Baroness Thatcher and HRH Princess Anne. Exhibits include the only collection of three V bombers (Valiant, Victor and Vulcan) in the same place in the world.
The Cosford Air Show is the only Royal Air Force air show that is officially supported by the Royal Air Force in Britain after the closure of RAF Leuchars and the runway resurfacing at RAF Waddington meant the air shows at those respective bases were stopped. The event is held on the airfield of RAF Cosford and regularly hosts flying and static displays which attract more than 50,000 people.
The event was cancelled in 2003 due to an inability to secure enough serving military aircraft. The war in Iraq had meant that most aircraft were deployed operationally and the RAF couldn't commit to the air show. The runway at Cosford is only 1,200 yards (1,100 m) in length so most flying displays will either arrive on the day or stay overnight at RAF Shawbury which has a 300 yd (270 m) longer airfield.
In 2013, Prince Harry, as part of No. 662 Squadron of the Army Air Corps, took part in the Apache helicopter demonstration at the air show.