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History :: Deception : K Sites - daylight dummy airfields

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Updated: 16 Sep 08

K-sites for daytime deception

It was clear from the outset that it would not be practicable to provide a daytime decoy for the pre-war well founded RAF stations with their concentrations of large buildings and constant movement. Work therefore focussed on decoying the considerable number of satellite airfields which were typically of no great size and with very limited numbers if any of buildings. Such sites normally had an area cleared of hedges, one entrance road and a concrete yard which was only occasionally occupied with aircraft. Suitable sites were selected 2 - 6 miles from the stations to be protected and wherever possible on the expected line of approach of enemy aircraft.


Hedges were levelled to create the open space typical of airfields and dummy aircraft, roads, dumps and tracks were provided, together with dummy and real machine gun posts (it being unreasonable for an attacked 'airfield' not to reply to enemy aircraft!), as well as a shelter and trenches for the site operators.

The brushwood from hedges cut down to create the open space were employed to cover ditches. The resulting view from the air resembled painted hedges on true airfields. Dummy buildings were constructed from braced tubular scaffolding to support walls and roof, with walls of canvas sandwiched between two sheets of chickenwire and roofs of plaster slats on chicken wire to give the appearance of corrugation. Vertical elevation to buildings was essential so that they created realistic shadow for photographic interpretation and they were scaled at 3/4 height accordingly. Roads were made by clearing turf and laying white limestone or rolled clinker; tracks were created by turning turf over, using sand or saw dust, or dragging barrows behind lorries.

Development and operation

The first K site in Great Britain was in operation at the end of Jan 1940, with 34 in place by the end of Jul 1940. Two more were added later. Attacks began against these sites in Jul 1940 when 6 attacks were recorded, totalling 30 by the end of the year across Britain.

A combination of factors forced a rapid decline in attacks on daytime decoys in early 1941. The enemy air threat declined quickly after the Battle of Britain such that there were just 6 attacks on K sites in 1941, the last in Jun. This led to to 12 sites closing that month and 2 more in July. At the same time, the satellite airfields they were protecting by simulation were being transformed into well-founded operational airfields with clusters of hutting on the perimeters, often with concrete peritracks and even taxyways and runways. Finally the recovery in Oct 1941 of a map from a shot-down enemy reconnaissance aircraft showing 11 of the remaining 22 'K' sites marked clearly as decoys indicates their usefulness and credibility were diminished. The air ministry agreed to close 19 but retained 3 sites near the coast until May 1942.


K sites were manned by RAF personnel of the CTD who were specially trained in the work of and sufficiently in rifle and machine guns to use them against low-flying aircraft. They also carried out a small amount of maintenance with the area contractor being responsible fo any heavy repairs.

Lincolnshire K Sites

RAF Donna Nook began life as a relief landing field and decoy airfield, populated with dummy Blenheims.

RAF Folkingham was a Q-site for Spitalgate. During the day there were dummy planes and lots of activity. During the night it was a Q site that successfully attracted the Luftwaffe.

RAF East Kirkby began as a decoy airfield; in later life it apparently had its own decoy at Sibsey.

RAF Elsham Wolds reportedly had a decoy airfield at nearby Great Limber.

RAF Faldingworth began life as Toft Grange decoy airfield.

Anwick acted as a decoy airfield for ???? until 1942.

[this list is subject to review and confirmation]

Example decoys in Cumbria

Further reading


> RAF history in Lincolnshire

The early years up to 1918
Early days in Saint Omer
The Inter-war years

World War TwoRAF
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> Decoy airfields and deception

Q Sites
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> Other historical pages

Key dates of bomber offensives

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The secret, electronic war

Aircraft manufacturers in Lincolnshire

The US Air Forces in Lincolnshire

Selected books about Lincolnshire aviation history

The 'RAFwaffe'

History of the RNAS on the Fleet Air Arm Archive

The Architectural context -

> Sources

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Aviation Heritage Lincolnshire

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