Alton Model Railway Group

Habbaniya, Iraq 1941

At the end of April 1941, RAF Habbaniya in Iraq was put under siege by the better equipped and larger Iraqi Army who dominated the base from the overlooking plateau. The base was defended by No4 Service Flying Training School, equipped with Oxford and Hart trainers and obsolete former front-line aircraft; and on the ground by Assyrian and Kurdish Levies, the 1st King’s Own Royal Regiment and RAF Regiment armoured cars. They went on the offensive bombing and striking the Iraqi forces for five days; despite the base being continually bombarded; until the besieging forces morale was broken and they withdrew. A high price was made in lives but this little known side note in the history of the Second World War was an astonishing victory which went unrecognised and yet it played a crucial role in protecting allied oil supplies.

The model shows the situation on 1st May 1941, the eve of the battle. It is in forced perspective with scales from 1/32 at the front to 1/700 at the back giving a flavour of the base and its aircraft. It is animated so look for the train moving across the base at different places and lots of other movements taking place. The scene is viewed as from a sand bagged defensive position and much more information is given beside the diorama. If you have further questions, please ask. Habbaniya, Iraq 1941 supports the Help for Heroes charity.