DCAE Cosford crest

Crown Copyright

Cosford airfield is set in the quiet Shropshire countryside, around 150 miles north-west of London. Currently home to the Defence College of Aeronautical Engineering, the site is home to a number of airframes used for training, including the Jet Provost and Jaguar.

RAF Cosford opened in 1938 as part of the pre-war expansion plan. Initially built as an aircraft storage & repair facility (known as Aircraft Storage Units [ASU] ), the upsurge of wartime manpower requirements was soon to overwhelm the RAF’s existing training units at Halton, Cranwell and Uxbridge. It was decided that a number of Technical Training Schools would be established and it was suggested that the ASU's could house the new schools.

The RAF’s No 2 School of Technical Training (2 SoTT) was formed on 15th July 1938 and by the outbreak of World War II in September 1939 had 3,580 trainees consisting of apprentices in the trades of (Fitter) Engines, Airframes, Armourers, plus a significant number of Flight Mechanics and Flight Riggers (however, the apprentice element was ordered back to RAF Halton in March 1940). In March 1939 No 9 Maintenance Unit took up residence at Cosford, its initial role being to store, maintain, modify, repair and, ultimately, issue aircraft to operational Units.

Throughout the war years many varied units came to Cosford, (an Officers’ School, No 12 Ferry Pilots Pool, a Czechoslovak Depot, School of Musketry to name but a few); some remained for many years while others departed relatively quickly. A major RAF Hospital was added to the site in 1940 and towards the end of the war it was decided that repatriated RAF PoWs would be processed through the site. Nos 106 and 108 Personnel Reception Centres were established and over 13000 ex-PoWs had passed through RAF Cosford by 23rd August 1948 when the units were eventually closed down. The hospital continued to serve the RAF and the local community until it closed in 1977.

Post World War II there were numerous organizational changes but 2 SoTT continued in the training role. Following the transfer of RAF Halton’s remaining technical training during 1993 to 1995, RAF Cosford took on the mantle of the No 1 School of Technical Training and the Air Force’s premier technical training establishment.

The Defence College of Aeronautical Engineering

The Defence College of Aeronautical Engineering (DCAE) was established on 1st April 2004 following the Defence Training Review (DTR). The principal task of the DCAE is to provide a high quality, relevant and up-to-date aeronautical engineering (AE) training to fulfil the needs of tomorrow's front line.

Comprised of training establishments across five sites, the DCAE embraces the AE and survival equipment elements of Royal Navy training at HMS Sultan (Gosport), the REME School of Electronic and Aeronautical Engineering at Arborfield, the RAF 1 SoTT at Cosford, specialist RAF Engineering Officer Training at Cranwell and the RAF’s Painter and Finisher training at St Athan.

The DCAE is responsible for the provision of all Phase 2 and some Phase 3 training for all aeronautical engineers for the UK Armed Services.

a. Phase 2 Training is initial specialist training which prepares service personnel for their first employment. (It normally follows on from Phase 1 Training, which is initial training in the basic military skills required by all service personnel).

b. Phase 3 Training prepares service personnel for further employment with increased skill base and/or responsibility. It also encompasses training to meet career aspirations and professional development.

Military Training Wing

The Military Training Wing (MTW) is responsible for the physical and military training requirements, as well as the welfare needs of the trainees whilst at 1 SoTT. The Wing comprises of 2 Sqns:

Trenchard Squadron

Trenchard Squadron concentrates on the management of trainees, reinforcing the ethos of the RAF instilled in them by Recruit Training Sqn at RAF Halton and focusing it on their chosen trade.

Force Development Training Squadron

The Force Development concept provides a means by which personnel can be developed through individual and collective training activity in five main areas, namely: Leadership, Air Power, Ethos, Common Military Skills and Training for Deployed Operations. The aim is to ensure the Royal Air Force maintains a competitive edge by ensuring it develops the whole person and maximises their potential whatever the environment.

The Eurofighter Training Rig

Located within DCAE are four Eurofighter Training Rigs, also know as Generic Flying Controls Trainer (GenFly).

GenFly is a unique and sophisticated flying controls training system that provides a safe and effective environment to train mechanics and technicians on a complete range of hands-on maintenance activities for aircraft hydraulics, flying controls, landing gear and services.

After some 66 years, the name RAF Cosford ceased to be used for the site on 1st April 2004 when the DCAE was formed. Interestingly, reference is currently only made to RAF Cosford if it involves either an RAF specific public relations matter (for example the annual air show is still called the RAF Cosford Air Show) or if RAF related flying takes place.

DCAE Residents noted 24/05/07
With thanks to Marcus Jellyman


Jet Provost T.3

Jet Provost T.5A

Jaguar GR.1

Jaguar GR.3*/3A

Jaguar T.2

Gazelle HCC.4

Gazelle AH.1


XW299 60/MB

XX110 EP

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Gazelle HT.2

Tornado GR.1

Tornado F.2

Tornado F.3

Sea King HAS.6

Wessex HC.2

Eurofighter Training Rig


XZ941 B


ZD937 AQ (tail only)

ZE340 GO

XV643 262

XR498 X Wessex


XR726 T Dominie T.1



ZD938 AR (tail only)


XV653 CU-63

XV725 C Wessex


XZ991 3A Harrier GR.3





XV659 CU-62





ZA399 AJ-C



XV701 64





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A visitor to Cosford was BBMF Spitfire Vb, AB910, looking resplendent in the sunshine.

Cosford is also home to a branch of the Royal Air Force Museum; amongst the collection of over 60 aircraft is a unique collection of research and development aircraft, including one of two surviving examples of the TSR.2 and the sole complete Valiant V-bomber, recently moved to the museum from the RAF Museum’s Hendon site. The move re-united the RAF’s trio of V-Bombers with the Valiant joining the Victor and Vulcan in a unique display of the Cold War warriors.

With thanks to the Cosford Media & Communications Office and all at DCAE for their hospitality.


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© On Target Aviation 2008