Dome Trainer, Langham Airfield

Back Langham, Norfolk

The ‘Dome Trainer’, is a concrete hemisphere dating to 1943 and one of about 40 originally built and only one of a handful to survive. The dome was a training aid for ground-to-air gunnery. Projection equipment inside the structure played film of aircraft making mock attacks and which moved around the interior via cameras and mirrors – all with realistic sound. The serviceman sat at a mock anti-aircraft gun and had to shoot at the plane, while an instructor could measure the accuracy of the shooter by the presence of yellow lights projected onto the interior of the dome. Once gunners became proficient, they moved onto real targets being towed by aircraft elsewhere on the North Norfolk coast.

Langham is not a particularly well-known airfield; most of the American airfields have a greater profile, but although it might be a little overshadowed by those elsewhere, Langham has an impressive history. The airfield was established in 1940 as an emergency landing ground, but it soon became a satellite station for the larger RAF Bircham Newton and was home to one of the RAF’s Coastal Command Strike Wings, tasked with striking against German shipping. By1942 it was a station in its own right and housed Fairy Swordfish bi-planes for a time and also acted as a station for air sea rescue.

During 1943 the airfield was upgraded and in early 1944 re-opened and operated Bristol Beaufighters primarily flying missions against German shipping. At the end of the war, Langham became a centre for meteorological flying and also a training station for the Dutch Technical Training School, but was gradually wound down and was sold off in 1961 when it became the site for poultry rearing.

The dome is now being restored and will be open to the public soon. Look on the Friends of Langham Dome website to see progress: http://www.friendsoflanghamdome.org/index.html

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