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Thread: Scuiscuiban, Somalia - where exactly is it?

  1. #11
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    Hello All,
    Just to tidy this one up a bit!
    We spend a considerable time and effort on these threads trying to establish the Who, When, Where, and How. Much less effort is devoted to Why!
    The “runway” at Iskushuban/Scuiscuiban (threshold GE 10.314134 50.211154) measures 5790 feet long, by 560 feet wide (even I couldn’t miss “landing” on that!!).
    As an exercise I “flew” an A/S Patrol from Scuiscuiban N to the coast (ground rises to 4500 ft ASL halfway), then W from headland to headland until abeam Aden, N to Aden, the E from headland to headland as far as As Sufal, then S back home. A possible A/S sortie? About 917 nm. Scuiscuisban is 75 nm from the coast. Therefore 150 nm of that sortie (16+% of time, fuel, reason,?) would have been over land (spotting the occasional camel-train?), and not achieving the original purpose of the sortie! Why?
    Now, I appreciate that the current “runway” there may well have been created (for various reasons, and by various vested interests – you could get an Antonov AN-225 on/off there easily!!) post-WW2, but why base at Scuiscuisban? The whole of that area (bar a few potholes, wadis, stunted bushes, etc,) is one huge ‘airfield’. And 75 nm was well beyond the (then) range of naval gunfire.
    I do not expect to get an answer as to Why – but I still ask the question Why?
    HTH
    Peter Davies
    Meteorology is a science; good meteorology is an art!
    We might not know - but we might know who does!

  2. #12
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    Peter

    It's definitely in the middle of absolutely nowhere! I see from the 2005 photos on GE Pro that there's a runway running SE - NE too - marked at the corners with white 'L' shapes. There do appear to be the shapes of the remains of three or so buildings too, just sto the south of the eastern end of the main west-east runway.

    As I mentioned before, if it was built by the Ialians, maybe they built it for another reason, perhaps to keep an eye on restless locals? If it was already there and ready, then maybe the R.A.F. though 'why not?'

    Maybe a stop-off from/to somewhere else? An emergency landing ground?

    There is a file at the National Archives (Air 29/146/8) about Scuiscuiban: https://discovery.nationalarchives.g...ils/r/C7159521

    I've ordered a copy - be interesting to see what's in there...

    Regards

    Simon

  3. #13
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    Simon, Hi,
    Flight Simulator (FSX) also has an 05/23 'runway' on its HCMS 'blowup' (intersection with 09/27 at c. GE 10.314164 50.202204) but I still can't see it on my GE! I can 'see' a turning circle cleared of veg at the S of the E end of the main r/w (would take an AN-225, or a C-141?) but not at the W end!
    I'll bet that night-flying circuit-bashing with just half-a-dozen goose-necks to delineate the r/w was fun!!!
    It could have been used by the Italians to suppress/quell any insurrection(s) from NE of a line Berbera > Eyl?
    Yr TNA decript could be V interesting in that it might shed light on Why!!!!!!!!!
    HTH
    Peter Davies!
    Meteorology is a science; good meteorology is an art!
    We might not know - but we might know who does!

  4. #14
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    Hello again

    I now have the O.R.B. for Scuiscuiban, and R.A.F. Unit Scuiscuiban was formed on September 1st 1943, to Establishment LWE/ME/1210, and officially closed on June 30th 1945, at which time the strength of the unit was 1 officer and 24 other ranks.

    The introduction reads:

    September and October 1943
    The airfield at Scuiscuiban, Italian Somaliland, formerly used by the Italians was taken over by Aden Command and opened as a W/T detachment and refuelling base in July 1942. Since that date it developed into an advanced airfield for No. 8 Squadron, which sent over from Khormaksar detachments of up to three Blenheims for convoy escort duty and anti-sub sweeps in Gulf of Aden.
    The airfield is approximately 3 miles north of Scuiscuiban village in position 10º 19' N, 50º 11" E and is 1300 feet above sea level. It is situated on a huge plain and has 2 good runways E-W 2000 yds and N-S 1500 yds.
    The original detachment consisted on P/O Horsey and approx. 15 airmen. A company of Somaliland Camel Corps, whose main function is coast watching is based in Scuiscuiban [it's about 40 miles from the coast...] and a company of Somali Scouts for aerodrome defence are quartered within 1 mile of the RAF Camp.
    The buildings of the RAF Camp erected by A.M.W.D. consist of single storey buildings made of local quarried stone. Fresh water is fetched daily from a stream in Scuiscuiban village and fresh meat is available locally. Gazelle hunts used to be held weekly but an unfortunate accident caused them to be stopped. A fresh water swimming pool in Scuiscuiban village is appreciated by the men and a bathing party is organised daily.
    Adequate coolie labour is available locally but the natives, generally speaking, are of a poor type and exceptionally undernourished. There is little or no cultivation of the land within miles, but the local District Commissioner os endeavouring to develop gardens along the banks of the stream which runs through Scuiscuiban village.
    The climate is very trying, exceptionally hot and the Katiffe [?] wind which commences about the middle of May causes severe dust storms.
    It is mainly on this account and also due to lack of fresh veg supplies that Headquarters British Forces, Aden, deem it advisable to relieve personnel after three or four months service on this detachment.
    W. D. Armstrong, Flight Lieutenant, Commanding, R.A.F. Unit Scuiscuiban.


    After the attack on U-852 on May 1st/2nd 1944, the diary entry for May 2nd records that 621 Squadron ended up with 11 Wellingtons and 18 ground crew at Scuiscuiban, plus five crew from 2 Beechcraft sent on May 3rd to help ground troops round up any stray members of the u-boat crew. An extra 89 personnel to feed and accommodate, plus they only had one (malfunctioning) 450 gallon fuel bowser, so refuelling was described as 'difficult'...!Interestingly the diary entries often record the average max/min. temperatures for the month. For May 1944:

    Absolute maximum temperature for month 106º F. Absolute minimum 70º.

    Regards

    Simon

  5. #15
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    Simon,
    Absolutely brilliant! One gets the appalling mental picture of the place very easily! And if – even in wartime – a 3-month “tour” at the place was considered enough, then that says it all!! I’ll bet the SWOs at the various RAF Stations in the Gulf/Aden/E Africa loved it! They could always threaten defaulters with a posting to Scuiscuiban!! And, for that matter, the various Staishes could threaten malcontent officers with the same thing!! I would have been on my best behaviour (at either level!) to avoid the place. I should imagine the W/T job there (apart from Ops/Admin signals) was probably part of the area H/F D/F network?
    It makes the place ‘live’ – not that I would have wanted to live there!!!
    I noted the HIMAXs and LOMINs. Tks - done some of that!
    Rgds
    Peter
    Meteorology is a science; good meteorology is an art!
    We might not know - but we might know who does!

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