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Seaplanes at Lee on Solent WW1

On this day 30 July 1917

Published: 30 Jul 2014

During the First World War, Lee-on-Solent was used by seaplanes and flying boats for patrols. These aircraft were initially based at Calshot, which was the main Naval air station in the Solent. By 1917, the compact site at Calshot suffered from congestion, and it was therefore decided to provide a temporary satellite station, just west of Lee-on-the-Solent, to house the Naval Seaplane Training School.

HM Naval Seaplane Training School, Lee-on-Solent, was officially opened on 30 July 1917. The first seaplane training course commenced on 27 August, and the first aircraft to be brought into use on 22 September 1917, were Short 827s.

In November 1917, the Admiralty decided to develop RNAS Lee-on-Solent as a long-term seaplane base and a few weeks later a single slipway was opened crossing the beach to the waterline; work also started on a much larger double-width slipway, which was finally completed in September 1918 by which time the RNAS and RFC had merged to form the RAF.

After the control of the Fleet Air Arm was transferred back to the Admiraly, Lee-on-Solent became the first air station to be commissioned, becoming HMS Daedalus 24 May 1939.

The first Admiral to fly his flag at HMS Daedalus was Vice Admiral R Bell-Davis VC, CB, DSO, AFC who had been appointed Rear Admiral Naval Air Stations.


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