Crail Airfield / Royal Naval Air Station HMS Jackdaw

Sign for Crail Raceway with the airfield control tower in the background


1 November 2012

Crail, East Neuk of Fife

NO 62452 09378; 56.27535°N, 2.60793°W


The airfield at Crail was constructed in 1939 as Royal Naval Air Station HMS Jackdaw. It was built on the site of a First World War naval air base which had been demolished after its closure in 1919. HMS Jackdaw was the main Fleet Air Arm torpedo-warfare training base. Air operations came to an end in 1947 and the base was redesignated as HMS Bruce, a boys’ training facility. It later served as an Army Transit Camp, and during the 1950s the Joint Services School for Linguists was based at the station, teaching Russian to National Service conscripts. From 1960 the base was used as a pig farm and today parts of it are home to an industrial estate, a karting circuit and Crail Raceway — a motorsport venue featuring a drag strip and race track.

The Torpedo Attack Training Building houses a large painted plaster cyclorama supported on a timber frame. Above the cyclorama there is a gantry for lighting, which was used to simulate various daylight conditions, and a platform from which the image of a ship would be projected onto the cyclorama screen. Trainee torpedo-bomber pilots would sit in a high-level mock-up of a cockpit for target-acquisition drills using the facility.

Crail Airfield (Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland);
Crail Airfield, Technical Area, Torpedo Attack Training Building (British Listed Buildings);
Crail Raceway

Crail Airfield


Crail Airfield

Crail Airfield

Crail Airfield

Entrance to Crail Raceway, looking towards the control tower

Torpedo Attack Training Building – cyclorama with painted horizon line

Torpedo Attack Training Building

Torpedo Attack Training Building

Timber frame supporting the cyclorama

Torpedo Attack Training Building

7 thoughts on “Crail Airfield / Royal Naval Air Station HMS Jackdaw

  1. I spent 1940 to 1945 in Crail (22West Green) as my father (Frederick William Miller) was stationed at HMS Jackdaw. He worked in the sick bay and was a driving force in the Jackdaw Players. I remember sports days and Xmas shows that were put on for us children. I often holiday in the area and once looked up my school teacher, Miss Bett. To my amazement she knew my full name without me announcing myself. Love to hear others’ memories please.


  2. My father stationed here during war. I visited airfield several times for pantomimes and
    sports. I attended Crail primary school and was taught by Miss Bett who I looked up decades later and I was amazed she remembered my name without me introducing myself. I often revisit the area for holidays. I live near Worcester.


Share your thoughts...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.