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Tain Air Weapons Range
File:Fields and view to Tain Bombing range - - 501610.jpg
Tain Air Weapons Range including the range control tower
Type Air weapons range
Coordinates Latitude:
Built 1930 (1930)
In use 1930 – present
Ministry of Defence
Open to
the public
Yes (unless red flags flying)

Tain Air Weapons Range is a Ministry of Defence air weapons range on the Dornoch Firth near Tain in Scotland. Royal Air Force aircrews from RAF Lossiemouth are trained in air weaponry on the range, along with NATO aircrew.[1]

It was previously known as Royal Air Force Tain and Royal Naval Air Station Tain.


The following units were posted to the airfield at some point during the Second World War:

Role and operations[]

Observation tower at RAF Tain

The original airfield is no longer in operation, but still exists within the boundaries of the range.[1] The current station is the largest live weapons range in the Defence Training Estates.[1] It was one of only three ranges in Europe where live 1,000-pound (450 kg) bombs could be dropped (the others are Cape Wrath (RN) and Otterburn (Army)), and thus crucial to the final certification of bomber pilots. Several Second World War airfield buildings in various states of decay can be seen from the road to Inverness and Portmahomack.[citation needed]

Tain is now under the control of DIO (Defence Infrastructure Organisation). The range has no live (High Explosive) bombing as it is all done at the Cape Wrath range in the far northwest of Scotland at Durness. The weapons at Tain are 6.6 pounds (3 kg) practice bombs and inert 1,000 pounds (450 kg) concrete bombs. The Americans have in the past dropped BDU-39 and -50s and some inert 500-pound (230 kg) bombs. Typhoon Squadrons from RAF Lossiemouth are primary users of the range, and it is available to aircrews from across the United Kingdom. It is also an important range for UK Joint Terminal Attack Controllers and their NATO counterparts to maintain their air weapons qualifications.[citation needed]

There are various bombing targets spread throughout the range, including strafe targets. The range is staffed by RAF controllers and support staff from Landmarc Support Services, both of whom also man the Cape Wrath range.[citation needed]




  • Jefford, C.G. (1988). RAF Squadrons. A comprehensive record of the movement and equipment of all RAF squadrons and their antecedents since 1912. Shrewsbury: Airlife. ISBN 1-85310-053-6. 
  • Lake, A (1999). Flying units of the RAF. Shrewsbury: Airlife. ISBN 1-84037-086-6. 
  • Sturtivant, R; Ballance, T (1994). The Squadrons of The Fleet Air Arm. Tonbridge, Kent, UK: Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd. ISBN 0-85130-223-8. 

External links[]

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