RAF Castel Benito

From Infogalactic: the planetary knowledge core
Jump to: navigation, search
RAF Castel Benito
Air Force Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg
RAF Idris
IATA: noneICAO: none
Owner/Operator Desert Air Force
Location Near: Tripoli, Libya
Built 1938
Coordinates Lua error in Module:Coordinates at line 668: callParserFunction: function "#coordinates" was not found.
  is located in Libya
Location of RAF Castel Benito

RAF Castel Benito (later RAF Idris) was a Royal Air Force station near Tripoli in Libya between 1943 and 1966.


The airfield was first used by the Regia Aeronautica (Italian Air Force), and it was where the first units of Italian parachutists trained and were formed shortly before the Second World War. The first Italian Military Parachute School was located at Castel Benito. The first troops trained were two Libyan battalions, the Libyan Parachute Battalion and the 1st National Libyan Parachute Battalion, of the Royal Colonial Corps.[1]

In 1938 the Italian Libya governor Italo Balbo enlarged the military airfield and created an international airport for civilians, served by Ala Littoria: the Tripoli-Castel Benito Airport.

After it was captured by the British, the airfield was renamed RAF Station Castel Benito and was used by a number of operational squadrons involved in the desert war, sometimes for only a few days or weeks at a time.

In 1951, the station was renamed Tripoli Idris Airport.[2] The name was chosen to honour the Libyan King Idris at the request of the Libyan government. The station was used as a staging post for flights to and from the United Kingdom to the Middle East and Far East. It was also used in the 1950s as a base for aircraft using the Libyan desert bombing ranges (Tahuna) for practice. The station was closed in the late 1960s when the Libya became a republic.

Following the withdrawal of the RAF from Libya, the airfield became Tripoli Idris Airport. It is now known as Tripoli International Airport.

Units and aircraft

Unit Dates Aircraft Variant Notes
No. 6 Squadron RAF 1943 Hawker Hurricane IID Only stayed for six days
No. 73 Squadron RAF 1951 de Havilland Vampire FB9
No. 73 Squadron RAF 1952 de Havilland Vampire FB9 (RAF Idris)
No. 89 Squadron RAF 1943 Bristol Beaufighter VIF
No. 92 Squadron RAF 1943 Supermarine Spitfire VB and VC
No. 108 Squadron RAF 1943-1944 Bristol Beaufighter VIF Detached aircraft from RAF Luqa
No. 112 Squadron RAF 1943 Curtiss Kittyhawk III
No. 117 Squadron RAF 1943 Lockheed Hudson and Douglas Dakota
No. 145 Squadron RAF 1943 Supermarine Spitfire VB Detached from Wadi Suri later based
No. 185 Squadron RAF 1952 de Havilland Vampire FB5 (RAF Idris)
No. 208 Squadron RAF 1951 Gloster Meteor FR9 Detached aircraft from Abu Sueir
No. 250 Squadron RAF 1943 Curtiss Kittyhawk III
No. 260 Squadron RAF 1943 Curtiss Kittyhawk III
No. 283 Squadron RAF 1944-1946 Vickers Warwick I Detached aircraft from Hal Far
No. 294 Squadron RAF 1943-1944 Vickers Wellington IC
No. 318 Squadron RAF 1944 Supermarine Spitfire VC
No. 417 Squadron RCAF 1943 Supermarine Spitfire VC
No. 450 Squadron RAAF 1943 Curtiss Kittyhawk III
No. 601 Squadron RAF 1943 Supermarine Spitfire VC
No. 651 Squadron RAF 1943 Auster I
No. 651 Squadron RAF 1948-1950 Auster Based but later detached from Ismailia
No. 680 Squadron RAF 1943 Various (Electra/Spitfire/Hurricane) Detached aircraft from LG219 (Photo Reconnaissance Unit)

See also



  1. Fowler 2010, p. 61.
  2. See the international aviation safety database here


  • Fowler, William (2010). The Secret War in Italy: Operation Herring and No 1 Italian SAS. Hersham, Surrey: Ian Allan Publishing. ISBN 9780711035287.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Jefford, Wing Commander C.G., MBE,BA,RAF (Retd). RAF Squadrons, a Comprehensive Record of the Movement and Equipment of all RAF Squadrons and their Antecedents since 1912. Shrewsbury, Shropshire, UK: Airlife Publishing, 1988. ISBN 1-84037-141-2.
  • Sturtivant, Ray, ISO and John Hamlin. RAF Flying Training And Support Units since 1912. Tonbridge, Kent, UK: Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd., 2007. ISBN 0-85130-365-X.