Zimbabwe Military Air Bases and Airfields
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Military Air Bases and Airfields

This page gives details of some of the air bases and airfields which are, or have been, used by the Air Force of Zimbabwe, Rhodesian Air Force or Rhodesian Air Training Group (RATG). Note that after independence in 1980, a number of place names were changed.
(FAF = Forward Air Field, a very basic airstrip used by Alouette III helicopters and Lynx or Trojan light aircraft for Fireforce detachments during the Rhodesian War).

Belvedere Airport (ICAO code: ?)
The original civil airport for Salisbury. Opened in the 1930s. Used by the Southern Rhodesia Air Unit from November 1935. No.25 EFTS was opened here on 24 May 1940, as part of the RATG. After WW2 it was converted to civil use. Located on the other side of the city from Cranborne. Presumably closed in 1956 when the new Salisbury Airport opened. The site has been completely built over, and is partly and industrial site.
Runway data: Rwy ?/?, Size: ? x ? ft, Elev: ? ft.

Chegutu (ICAO code: ?)
See 'Fylde'.

Centenary (FAF 3) (ICAO Code: FVCN)
Located in the north east of the country, due north of Salisbury. It was opened as a grass strip for military use in the late 1960s, but later acquired an asphalt runway. Currently operates under District Development Fund (DDF) control but has been allowed to deteriorate badly.
Runway data: Rwy 09/27, Size: 3569 x 54 ft (1088 x 16 m), Elev: 4058 ft (1237 m), Lat: 16 44' 02.79" S, Long: 031 07' 19.22" E.

Charles Prince Airport (ICAO Code: FVCP)
See 'Mount Hampden'.

Chipinga (FAF 6) (ICAO code: ?)
Located in the south east of the country east of Fort Victoria, near Birchenough Bridge. It was opened in 1976? May be the same location as 'Chipinda Pools' - an FAF airstrip for helicopters near the Mozambique border which was used in September 1979. Current status?.
Runway data: Rwy ?/?, Size: 3720 ft (1100 m), Elev: ? ft.

Chiredzi/Buffalo Range (FAF 7) (ICAO code: FVCZ)
Located in the south east of the country, near Chiredzi, towards the Mozambique border. It was opened in 1976? Big enough for Dakotas to use in September 1979. Runway lengthened for planned upgrade to strategic airfield status but upgrade of remaining facilities not carried out. Asphalt runway. Currently a civilian operated airfield and home to the School of Military Training.
Runway data: Rwy 14/32, Size: 5785 x 98 ft (1763 x 30 m), Elev: 1421 ft (433 m), Lat: 21 00' 29.10" S, Long: 031 34' 42.78" E.

Cranborne (ICAO code: ?)
Originally known as Hillside, but renamed Cranbourne in 1939, with the spelling later revised to Cranborne. Located 3 miles from Salisbury city centre, south east of Salisbury, on the other side of the city from Belvedere Airport. Being build in 1937. A flying school was set up here in 1937 for the SRAU. An SFTS was opened here in July 1940, as part of the RATG. From 28 November 1947 it acted as the main SRAF air base - including the Spitfire squadrons. The rapid post-war expansion of the city of Salisbury forced its closure in 1952, when New Sarum opened. The area was built over and Cranborne Barracks now occupies part of the site.
Runway data: Rwy ?/?, Size: ? x ? ft, Elev: ? ft.

Fylde (ICAO code: ?)
Purpose-built 'Strategic Airfield' opened in 1970. Now called Chegutu. Located near the town of Hartley, about 90 miles (145 km) south west of Salisbury. Infrastructure included a modern control tower, aircraft shelters and revetments and underground fuel storage facilities. Used by Hunters and also a regular base for SAAF Canberra B(I)12s in the late 1970s. Currently home to Air Defence personnel and equipment. Formerly home to the School of Military Training, which later moved to Chiredzi.
Runway data: Rwy ?/?, Size: ? x ? ft, Elev: ? ft.

Grand Reef (FAF 8) (ICAO code: FVMU)
Located in the east of the country near Mutare, north of Umtali. It was opened in 1977? Still regularly used by the air force. Tarmac runway. Closer to the town is Mutare airfield, a civil operated field with a grass airstrip.
Runway data: Rwy 12/30, Size: 3117 x 60 ft (950 x 18 m), Elev: 3410 ft (1039 m), Lat: 18 59' 51.00" S, Long: 032 37' 38.01" E.

Guinea Fowl
RATG base during WW2. Located approximately halfway between Gwelo (Gweru) and Selukwe (Shirugwe), south east of Gwelo. After WW2 it became a boys boarding school until about 1982. It then changed back to an Army base.
Runway data: Rwy ?/?, Size: ? x ? ft, Elev: ? ft.

RAF Heany
RATG base during WW2 and reactivated in late 1946 for Royal Air Force aircrew training. Located near Bulawayo. Closed when? Current status not known.
Runway data: Rwy ?/?, Size: ? x ? ft, Elev: ? ft.

Harare International Airport (ICAO code: FVHA)
See 'Manyame'.

Hillside
See 'Cranborne'.

Induna
RATG base during WW2 with No.27 EFTS. Located near Bulawayo. Closed when? Current status not known.
Runway data: Rwy ?/?, Size: ? x ? ft, Elev: ? ft.

Kariba (FAF 2) (ICAO code: FVKB)
Located in the north of the country, towards the Zambian border. It was build in 1967? Also used by Air Rhodesia for internal flights. Asphalt runway. Still operated as a civil airport and occasionally used by the air force.
Runway data: Rwy 09/27, Size: 5413 x 59 ft (1650 x 18 m), Elev: 1706 ft (520 m), Lat: 16 31' 11.14" S, Long: 028 53' 05.93" E.

Kotwa (FAF ?) (ICAO code: FVOT)
Forward Airfield located in the region of Mutoko area, north east of Harare. Date build not known. Asphalt runway. Still operated as a military reserve airfield by the air force.
Runway data: Rwy 11/29, Size: 3642 x 56 ft (1110 x 17 m), Elev: 2450 ft (747 m), Lat: 16 59' 05.41" S, Long: 032 40' 21.68" E.

Kutanga
Tarmac strip north of Gwelo in the late 1970s. Base for detached aircraft using the Kutanga weapons range. Closed when? Current status not known.
Runway data: Rwy ?/?, Size: 3280 ft (1000 m), Elev: ? ft.

Manyame (ICAO code: FVHA)
Originally called New Sarum (name changed 1990s?). Located at Salisbury (now Harare) in the north east of the country. Purpose-built modern airfield constructed at Kentucky Farm, 6 miles (10 kms) south of Salisbury city centre. Originally known as Kentucky Airport. A dual use facility using a common runway, with the north side civil airport and a south side military air base. The runway opened in August 1952, and the military buildings opened in October 1952, while Salisbury Airport terminal opened in July 1956. The SRAFs first permanent base. Home of No.1 Ground Training School (by 1963) for ground crew technical training. Currently home of the School of Technical Training, the Engine Repair Section, the Aircraft Servicing Section, the Parachute School and Nos. 3, 7, and 8 Squadrons. 6,000 ft (1830 m) asphalt runway initially, later extended to 15,000 ft (4,575 m). Officially New Sarum Air Force Station/Harare International Airport.
Runway data: Rwy 06/240, Size: 15502 x 151 ft (4725 x 46 m), Elev: 4887 ft (1490 m), Lat: 17 55' 54.50" S, Long: 031 05' 34.25" E.

Moffat
RATG base during WW2 (home of No.24 Bombing, Gunnery and Navigation School operating Ansons). Located just south of Gwelo. It is still in use by the Midlands Gliding Club, but is no longer known as Moffat. The original Control Tower still stands and is used as the clubhouse. One of the hangars is also still standing and is still used to store the gliders.
Runway data: Rwy ?/?, Size: 4658 ft (1600 m), Elev: ? ft.

Mount Darwin (FAF 4) (ICAO Code: FVMD)
Located in the north east of the country, between Centenary and Mtoko. It was opened in 1972? as a military airfield. Asphalt runway. Currently operates under District Development Fund (DDF) control but has been allowed to deteriorate badly.
Runway data: Rwy 10/28, Size: 3650 x 59 ft (1113 x 18 m), Elev: 3240 ft (988 m), Lat: 16 46' 09.28" S, Long: 031 33' 35.37" E.

Mount Hampden
RATG base during WW2 with No.28 EFTS operating Harvard IIAs. Located north west of Salisbury, just on the outkirts of the suburbs. Also sometimes referred to as Mount Salisbury. Now called Charles Prince Airport after Charles Prince, who was a British Royal Air Force Officer during the War. He stayed on in the country after the war, becoming airport manager until he died in 1973. Soon after his death Mount Hampden was renamed Charles Prince. Asphalt runways. Home to the Mashonaland Flying Club and various aircraft companies.
Runway data: Rwy 06/240, Size: 3937 x 56 ft (1200 x 17 m), Rwy 14/32, Size: 3035 x 59 ft (925 x 18 m), Elev: 4845 ft (1477 m), Lat: 17 45' 05.62" S, Long: 030 55' 28.94" E.

Mtoko (FAF 5) (ICAO code: FVMT)
Located in the east of the country, north east of Salisbury. Also spelled Mutuko or Mutoko. It was opened in 1972? Large enough for Dakotas to operate from it. Currently a privately owned civil airfield.
Runway data: Rwy 09/27, Size: 3609 x 59 ft (1100 x 18 m), Elev: 3950 ft (1204 m), Lat: 17 25' 54.90" S, Long: 032 11' 04.21" E.

New Sarum (ICAO code: FVHA)
See 'Manyame'.

Norton
RATG base during WW2 with the Central Flying School (operating Ansons and Harvards). Location not known. Closed when? Current status not known.
Runway data: Rwy ?/?, Size: ? x ? ft, Elev: ? ft.

Rutenga (FAF 9) (ICAO code: ?)
Located in the south of the country. It was opened in 1976? Current status not known.
Runway data: Rwy ?/?, Size: ? x ? ft, Elev: ? ft.

Thornhill (ICAO code: FVTL)
Located at Gwelo (now Gweru) in the centre of the country. Build on Thornhill farm in 1941 and opened in March 1942, operated as an RATG base with No.26 EFTS. Reactivated in late 1946 for Royal Air Force aircrew training, (including No.3 Air Navigation School operating Anson Is and later T.20s), but later closed. Taken over by the RRAF in 1956 (runway reconstructed and radar installed). Home of No.2 Ground Training School (by 1967) for initial cadet pilot training. Currently home of the School of Flying Training, the Flying Instructors School and Nos. 1, 2, 4, 5, and 6 Squadrons. A military airfield, but facilities and asphalt runways are shared with civil aircraft operators. Home of all the jet aircraft, since the climate is conducive to good take-off performance.
Runway data: Rwy 13R/31L, Size: 7826 x 93 ft (2385 x 28 m), Rwy 13L/31R, Size: 8766 x 100 ft (2672 x 30 m), Elev: 4680 ft (1426 m), Lat: 19 26' 12.80" S, Long: 029 51' 42.06" E.

Victoria Falls (ICAO code: FVFA)
Located in the north west of the country, close to the Zambian border. Civil airport used by RhAF Canberras in February 1979. Asphalt runway. Still used as a civil airport today.
Runway data: Rwy 12/30, Size: 7708 x 98 ft (2349 x 30 m), Elev: 3490 ft (1064 m), Lat: 18 05' 45.17" S, Long: 025 50' 20.42" E.

Wankie (FAF 1) (ICAO code: ?)
Located in the north west of the country, at Wankie Town, near Victoria Falls. It was built in 1967? Not to be confused with the stategic airfield near Wankie which was quite separate. Current status not known.
Runway data: Rwy ?/?, Size: ? x ? ft, Elev: ? ft.

Wankie (ICAO code: ?)
Purpose-built 'Strategic Airfield' opened in 1970. Completely separate from FAF 1 at Wankie Town. Located in the north west of the country, near Victoria Falls. Infrastrucure included a modern control tower, aircraft shelters and revetments and underground fuel storage facilities. Current status not known.
Runway data: Rwy ?/?, Size: ? x ? ft, Elev: ? ft.


Base for No.33 Flying Instructors School of the RATG not known. (Flew Oxfords, Harvards and Cornells).


Bases used outside of Rhodesia/Zimbabwe:
Nairobi, Garissa, Isiolo, Wajir, Buna in Kenya - SRAU deployment August 1939-April 1940.
Cyprus, Bahrein, Aden, Oman - annual deployments to RAF Middle East Command 1958-1963.
Ndola (Northern Rhodesia/Zambia) - aircraft detachments in 1961.


Thanks to Robin Norton for updating this page.

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First Created: 17 January 2003 - Last Revised: 14 March 2004
Copyright 2003 John Hayles.     e-mail: john@aeroflight.co.uk