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See also :The Story of US Naval Squadron VCS-7 at Lee-on-Solent June 1944.

MAXS, later EGUS, later EGHF. Lat/Long50 48 35N/01 12 25W .Grid Ref SU 562020 .32 feet ASL.3 miles WNW of Gosport.Ident "LS"

RUNWAYS:Initially grass,tarmac laid in late 1942, 17/35 975x50 yds,05/23 1420x50 yds,10/28 1100x50 yds.

Only runway 05/23 remains active nowadays with the southern threshold displaced by 160 yards. Gliders use the grass parallel to the south side of 05/23.

Lee map
Lee-on-Solent Seaplane station as shown on maps in the 1920s before airfield was built.
Lee map
Lee-on-Solent,showing slipway to South of airfield.

The story of Lee-on-Solent up to the present comes in three distinct phases.The first phase started on 30/7/17 when the Naval Seaplane Training School opened as a sub-station of Calshot.Originally intended as temporary,the station ,which consisted of slipway and hangars,was made permanent in 1918,and later renamed the RAF Seaplane Training School. Seaplane operations continued until 1934 when,on 25th October ,a new land airfield immediately to the NE of the slipway,was opened.For the next 5 years the RAF continued to control the station,but on 24/5/39 Lee was transferred to the Admiralty as HMS Daedulus.

A photo sent by Charles Beattie showing a Short 184 on the slipway at Lee-on-Solent probably around 1918.The pilot was his grandfather Charles Alexander Beattie (left inset) , the observer(right inset) and the dog are unidentified.

An early view of seaplanes moored, possibly at Lee-on-Solent

1928 aerial view of the seaplane station .(via "Britain from above")

Above:1930s postcard showing the slipway entrance at Lee with two Fairey IIId aircraft (N9730 & N9632) .Below:Foreshore scene at Lee-on-Solent.

Above :Two 1934 photos showing Fairey IIIF aircraft on the slipway at Lee .
Above :A Blackburn Shark II on the foreshore at Lee .
Undated photo showing 3 Walruses on the sliphampshireairfields
Prewar photo looking South along Marine Parade with Walrus K8556 on the slipway at Leehampshireairfields
Swordfish K8877 .K8877 was at STS Calshot from 25.5.37. Floatplane Training Flt Lee-on-Solent 29.7.38. Crashed into fishing smack CS31 while alighting on the Solent. 15.9.38.Crew of Swordfish were Pilot-Sergeant Clifford Bond #590299 (later killed WW2 (21/04/1941) as Warrant Officer with 210 Sqn and Douglas Tennant Stewart, R.N., who was under flying instruction. The Swordfish was landing when it struck the rigging and sails of a fishing boat dismasting it and causing it to sink. Killing 1 member of the crew of the boat (Thomas Henry Kemp (48), Adelaide Grove, East Cowes) and critically injuring his step-father Thomas Banister (75) who owned the boat. The crew of the fishing boat were rescued by an R.A.F. Tender but Kemp was already dad with head injuries. Banister also had head injuries but appears to have survived.(Pictures from Russell Light, crash info from various Air Britain members .)

The Navy occupied the airfield for the next 50 years,with a very wide variety of units being resident over that period,The slipway fell into disuse after WW2 in 1946,only to be revitalised with the advent of the Hovercraft in 1962.Very occasional use of the slipway was made by increasingly rare civilian seaplanes/flying boats.The airfield's most notable event was the Coronation Review in 1953,when over 300 aircraft used Lee as a temporary base for the Flypast.

Beech Expediter CII KP110 of 781 Sqn at Lee-on-Solent in 1951.

One of the more unusual units nominally based at Lee-on-Solent during the 1960s was the HMS Protector flight which operated Whirlwinds HAR.1s from the Antarctic patrol vessel.The Flight was based at Lee during the northern summer and southern winter. When Protector returned from the Antarctic in about May each year it would return its Whirlwind HAR1s to Fleetlands for major servicing and draw another aircraft of the same type to use during the summer, operating from Lee. The Flight later became part of 771 Sqn.

Joe Barr, who served in the HMS Protecter Flight from May 1963 to May 1965, has kindly sent the picture below which shows Whirlwind HAR.1 XA870(the summer aircraft) at Lee.Joe is dropping a dinghy from the doorway, the pilot is Tony Matthias. During Joe's time with the flight aircraft taken to the Antarctic were XA866 and XA868 .The lower picture(also from Joe) shows XA866 in it's prefered environment.

The start of the third phase in Lee's history came in 1988,when Naval flying ceased at Lee-on-Solent.With the ever contracting size of the armed forces,there was no longer any need for the airfield ,and the last flying unit(The SAR Sea Kings of 202 Sq RAF)left in May 1988.They were replaced by civilian aircraft operated by Bristow Helicopters.The Air Engineering School continued to some of the buildings with some instructional airframes for several years,but,on 31/3/96,HMS Daedulus finally closed,and the RN presence was terminated. The airfield was then used by the RN Gliding Club,the Police Air Wing,and occasional light aircraft.Various schemes to turn it into a general aviation field ran into problems , partly at least to do with security issues arising from the use of the field by the Hampshire Police Air Support Unit.

However , after a series of on and off situations , the airfield eventually settled down to use as a general aviation field with some restrictions as to use

The airfield is now owned by the Department of Transport (Jan 2010) and operates as a general aviation airfield open for shared public aviation and community uses, including gliding, alongside priority operations such as Coastguard and Hampshire Constabulary operational flights .

It was announced in May 1910 that Britten-Norman was moving production of it's Defender aircraft to a new facility at Lee-on-Solent.

The Lee Flying Association represents the interests of the general aviation users and have a comprehensive website covering all aspects of flying at Lee.

In April 2011 Britten-Norman signed a new two-year lease for the Airfield . The new lease from the South East England Development Agency (SEEDA) will allow the continued operation of the airfield which had been under the management of the Hampshire Police Air Support Unit. Fly BN Ltd, Britten-Norman’s airfield management subsidiary, will have full responsibility for day-to-day operations at Daedalus Airfield. Pete Dalby, the company’s airfield manager, said: “We pride ourselves on offering a safe, friendly and welcoming service to both regular airfield operators and any new visitors that we can attract. “Our aim is to put the Gosport peninsula back on the aviation map as a place that welcomes visitors to this important heritage area.” The lease also includes agreements between SEEDA and the Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA).

air shot
Postcard showing Lee-on-Solent circa 1940s .
LEFT:Lee-on-Solent from the air ,post WW2 and(RIGHT) a recent picture.
During the postwar years there was an "Aircraft Towing Route" from Fleetlands to Lee.It was common to see such aircraft as Sea Furies, Avengers,and later , Sea Venoms, Attackers and Seahawks , being towed along the route. The GE Screenshot below shows the route which fell into disuse in the 80s.


Naval Seaplane Training School,Short 827 Floatplane, established 30/7/17 ,became 209 TDS,,Short 184/187/FBA/NT2B,closed 1/1/19
RAF and Naval Co-operation School,Short 184,formed 6/6/19,name changed to RAF Seaplane School 7/19.Station closed 12/19.
School of Naval Co-operation and Air Navigation ,Fairey IIID,opened 1/6/20,renamed RAF Seaplane Training School 4/21
Above renamed as School of Naval co-operation 5/23.
Floatplane Training Flight,arr 4/38
2AACU,Formed 12/36
407 Flt ,Osprey,Formed (?),dep 6/35
443 Flt,Fairey IIIF,Formed (?),extant 1930
444 Flt,Fairey IIID,Formed 1/25
444 Flt ,Fairey IIIF,arr 7/29,dep 6/35
2 Sq.Mustang II,arr 6/44,dep 6/44.
16 Sq,Spitfire VA,arr 6/6/41,dep 9/41
26 Sq Spitfire VA/Hurricane IIC,arr 29/4/44,dep 6/10/44
42 Sq,Vildebeeste,detachment 11/3/38
63 Sq,Spitfire VB,arr 28/5/44,dep 2/7/44.
63 Sq,Spitfire VB,arr 30/8/44,dep 20/9/44.
202 Sq(detachment),Sea King HAR3,arr 4/88,dep 5/88
268 Sq,Mustang II,arr 6/44,dep 6/44.
414 Sq,Mustang II,arr 6/44,dep 6/44.
1320 Flt,Typhoon,arr 6/44,dep 6/44(?)
Southampton UAS,Bulldog,arr 1987.


HMS Daedulus was renamed HMS Aerial on 31/10/59 when the Air Electrical School arrived from Worthy Down,but reverted to HMA Daedulus in late 1965
700 Sq,(Helicopter Flt) Whirlwind Has 7,formed 18/3/57,disbanded 26/9/57
701 Sq,Dragonfly HR5,Whirlwind HAR1/HAR3/HAS7/HAS22.Formed 31-10-57 Disbanded 20-9-58
702 Sq,Seafox,Formed 12/40
702 Sq,Sea Balliol/Sea Vamp[ire/Sea Prince.Reformed 15-10-57,dep to Ford 17-10-57.
703 Sq,Sea Hornet,arr 48,Absorbed 778 Sq.dep 4/50
705 Sq,HTE-1/Dragonfly/Whirlwind.arr1-11-55.dep 7-1-58
708 Sq,Firebrand,formed from 764B Sq 2/10/44
710 Sq,Walrus,Formed 8/39,dep 39.
728C Sq.Whirlwind HAS22 formed 1-1-58,dep 1/58.
737X Flight.Anson,formed(when?)dep 7/51(to Eglinton).
739 Sq(BADU),Swordfish/Fulmar/Anson/Oxford,Formed 42,dep 2/43.
753 Sq,Shark,formed 39,dep 10/40.
754 Sq,Shark,Formed 39,dep 12/40
763 (TBR Pool)Sq,arr 6/40.dep 10/40.
764 Sq,Walrus/Swordfish/Seafox/Kingfisher ,formed 4/40,dep 7/40.
764B Sq,Firebrand,Formed 1/9/44,renumbered 708 Sq 2/10/44
765 Sq,Walrus/Swordfish/Seafox,Formed from Seaplane Training Flt 5/39.dep to Sandbanks mid 1940
770 Sq ,Moth/Skua,Sea Gladiator,arr 11/39
771 FRU,various types,Formed 6/39,dep 4/50(also operated from Portland)
771 Sq Firefly TTIV,here 11/51,dep 1/9/52.
772 Sq,(FRU).Swordfish,dep 1940formed 30-9-39
772 Sq(SAR Flt) Wessex,dep 31/3/88
778 Sq,(Service Trials Unit),Swordfish/Roc/Skua/Fulmar,Formed 9-39,dep 7/40 to Arbroath
778 Sq,Firefly Mk5,here 5/48
780 Sq,arr 12/40
781Sq,Various comms aircraft,formed 3-40,Disbanded 31-7-4545
781(comms) Sq,Various types,Reformed 6/46,disbanded 31/3/81
782(comms) Sq(detachment only),Dominie,extant 1945.gone by 1953
783 SQ,Mosquito/Anson ,arr 5/47
794 Sq Formed 1-45
799 Sq,Sea Otter/Expeditor/Avenger,dep 1948
800 Sq,Seafire XVII arr 46,dep 9/46
802 Sq,Sea Furies,extant 7/48
807 Sq,short periods during 1946 and again arr 1/47
808 Sq,Seafire,arr 1/44.dep 8/44
810 Sq,Barracuda,,dep 10/43.
811 SQ,Chesapeake/Sea Hurricane,Formed 7/41,dep 41.
813 Sq,Firebrand arr 48,dep 2/53.
814 Sq,Firefly,,here 4/48,dep 10/5/48
820 Sq, Firefly,arr 10/53
825 Sq,Swordfish,Reformed 1/42
826 Sq,Gannet,Formed 17/1/55,dep 5/55.
827 Sq,Firefly ,arr 46,dep 9/46
829 Sq Albacore,Formed 6/40,dep 40.
829 Sq,Barracuda II,Reformed 12/43,dep 43.
845 Sq,Whirlwind 22/HAS7,reformed 11/55.dep 8/57
885 Sq,Seafire IB,arr 42,dep 42,
885 Sq,Seafire ,arr 10/43,Disbanded 11/43.
885 Sq,Seafire LIII/Spitfire VB,Formed 3/44,dep 8/44
886 Sq,Seafire,arr 1/44,absorbed by 885 Sq 7/44.
1791 Sq Firefly IF,Formed 3/45.dep 6/45.
1792 Sq,Firefly IF,Formed 5/45,dep 6/45.
1831(RNR)Sq,Chipmunk/Wasp,extant 1980
2 Observer School ,Swordfish/Walrus/Shark,extant 39
Interservice Hovercraft Trials Unit Formed 62,renamed Naval HTU 1/12/75.
Night Fighter School ,Fulmar/Anson,formed 6/42.
Service Trials Unit,Seafire/Firefly,arr mid-47
School of Aircraft Handling ,various types arr 1956,dep 1958
VCS-7,Spitfire VB,arr 6/44,dep 6/44
Hiller HT-2

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