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Article Highlights

  • World War One

  • Between the Wars

  • World War Two

  • Post World War Two

Lee-on-Solent became an airbase in 1917 and stayed in use until 1996.

Lee-on-Solent from the Air 1918.

On 30 July 1917 the Navy commissioned HM Naval Seaplane Training School at Lee-on-Solent on the South coast of England, situated just west of Portsmouth, to train pilots for anti-submarine patrols.

Short 827, operational 1915 - 1918 (FAA)

Aeroplanes were initially very slow and fragile. They were used by the military for reconnaissance - flying over the German positions and spotting for the Army's guns. The Germans used the same tactics and because of this all air forces armed their aircraft.

As World War One progressed the performance, role and the type of aircraft expanded rapidly.

Up until 1918 there were two air arms, the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) and the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS), using both land-based planes and seaplanes.


With the great expansion in the use of aircraft these was an urgent need to build a large number of airfields throughout the country. The highest concentration was in southern England - this included Lee-on-Solent.

RAF Officer on a Rudge motorcycle (FAA)