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HMS DAEDALUS

ALTERNATIVE NAME:  RAF LEE ON SOLENT, HMS ARIEL
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A former Royal Navy Air Service military airfield, used in both World Wars and post-war until 1996. It was established in 1917 as a seaplane training school, initially as satellite of Calshot. Hangars and slipways from this period are extant (please see SU 50 SE 33). This phase included the reuse of existing Victorian buildings (see SU 50 SE 49). Between the wars the airfield was transferred to Royal Air Force control and was rebuilt after becoming Coastal Area headquarters in 1931, (see SU 50 SE 60 and 51) with more barracks being added in 1932-1935. A number of buildings dating to this phase are also extant. With the formation of the Fleet Air Arm, in 1939 the base reverted to Royal Navy Control. During the Battle of Britain Royal Navy fighter aircraft used the base to protect Southampton and Portsmouth, but it was also sometimes used by fighters of Royal Air Force 11 Group, who were heavily engaged in the battle. By the end of World War Two HMS Daedalus was arguably the most important Royal Naval Air Station in the world. World War Two aircraft hangars are also extant (SU 50 SE 53 and 54). In the post-war period the base was mainly used for training. From 1969-1965 it operated in this role under the name HMS Ariel, then changing back to HMS Daedalus. After closure in 1996 the Ministry of Defence retained ownership over the site, which hosts a number of civil aircraft bodies and the Hampshire Constabulary's aviation section. The site is now a Conservation Area, comprising 100 acres of buildings and 382 acres of the former flying field.

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