The Control Tower


Today our control tower is the star attraction of the museum housing some of our most prized collections but its history dates back to 1942.

The control tower and surrounding airfield at Thorpe Abbotts was built hurriedly in 1942 and early 1943. It was originally built as a satellite airfield to the nearby RAF Horham but both bases were handed over to the Eighth Airforce.

Control towers became one of the most distinctive and easily recognisable of all the airfield buildings and became the focal point of base personnel whilst awaiting returning aircraft from missions.

The ground floor interior of the tower would have consisted of the meteorological offices, toilets, rest room, switch room and watch office whilst at first floor level there would have been a store, signals office, controllers’ rest room and lower control room.

The airfield itself covered more than 600 acres and included 3 runways, the main one of which was 6300ft (1,920 metres) was one of the longest in the Eighth Airforce. It also consisted of 3.5 miles of perimeter track, 50 hardstands, and 300 individual buildings including two hangars, plus 11 miles of concrete roads.

Major services on site included 3.5 miles of sewers, 5 miles of water mains, and 14.5 miles of storm drains.

Visitors today can be transported back to 1943 through the extensive displays in the control tower detailing the heroics of the men and women stationed at Thorpe Abbotts.

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