Marine Aviation


MA0 new photo from Barry Davidson of Calshot tower (on top of the castle). My marine aviation guru tells me the aircraft is a Sunderland Mk V of 230 Sqn 4X Z serial SZ577.

Calshot 5

MA0a the Tower on the castle nearest.


MA1 Calshot (and cocooned Princess Flying Boat)

Calshot opened in 1913 as a RNAS water aerodrome and operated as a flying station under RN and later RAF control for 40 years. Its most dramatic period of operations was in the late 1920s and early 1930s when it hosted the RAF High Speed Flight and the Schneider Trophy Races. The Tudor castle, used as the base for the control tower building, belongs to English Heritage and is open to the public.


Most of the other RAF buildings are used for water or other sports activities. The canoe store contains the original 1913 hanger built by Tommy Sopwith for his Batboat flying boat




MA1b Princess Flying Boat at Cowes (Saunders Row slipway) Note the SR1 jet flying boat fighter just left of the nose and across the harbour a flying boat of the Sunderland family is up on a slipway.

Calshot Solent BD 11 19_1

MA1c  a Princess Flying Boat in more optimistic times

Calshot Solent BD 11 19_2

MA1d the sad end of the story below the tower at Calshot.

Southampton Sea

MA2 just up Southampton Water from Calshot were two more aviation sites. At Hythe there was a major engineering base and at Southampton a civil flying boat water aerodrome, hence this atmospheric shot of the RMS Berengaria, Quantas Short C Class flying boat VH-ABB Coolangatta and the Short S20 Mercury, one half of the Short Mayo Composite flying boat experiment.


MA3 Aquila Airways Short S45 Solent III, G-AKNU “Sydney” possibly at Hythe on Southampton water?  On Friday 15 November 1957, the Aquila Airways Solent flying boat departed Southampton at 22:46 for a flight to Lisbon and Madeira. At 22:54 the crew radioed that the number 4 propeller had been feathered. While trying to return, the Solent crashed into the face of a quarry between Chessel and Brook on the Isle of White. At impact the aircraft was banked 45 degrees to the right. Of the 58 occupants 45 were killed.


MA4 keeping with the maritime theme is this photo though actually on land at Southampton Airport. I am told that this aircraft was stored at British Power Boat Co and  was destroyed during the fire 1931

If you have any kind of interest in flying boat operations I recommend the web site of the Poole Flying Boat Celebration Trust. Those of us who were students at the School/College at Hurn will remember an assistant called Peter Davidson, a slight dapper polite guy, always smartly dressed. Pete had been a Coxwain on the Air Ministry seaplane tenders at Poole and Southampton, and he contributed his archive to the Trust. You’ll find them incorporated within the archive pages. I remember him describing the complexity of marking water “runways” with buoys and flares, fighting changing tides and winds – remarkable skills now all extinct.


MA5  four Supermarine Southampton Flying Boats  setting off from Calshot on the Round Britain tour. photo via Barry Davidson

Calshot 4

MA5a Saro Cloud at Calshot

Hythe_3 GAGJM

MA6 G-AGJM was a Hythe Class Short S25 BOAC (ex ML754 OQZM RAF), named ‘Hythe’ & photographed on the apron at Hythe, c1948 – 50 with 3 others moored-out. photo via Barry Davidson

Soton C Caledonia

MA6a Caledonia at Hythe

Soton B Capella

MA6b Capella at Hythe


MA6c Short Solent G-AHIX at Hythe,  lost on Wednesday 1 February 1950 in a landing accident in Southampton water

Calshot 8


Lee 1

MA7 RNAS Lee on the Solent

Rochester 1

MA8 Shorts Rochester


MA8a Rochester


MA9 Shorts Composite

Soton A Castor

MA10 Short C Class Castor moored out in (presumably) Southampton water

Sikorsky S-42 Woolston (2)

MA11 Pan Am Sikorsky S-42 Clipper moored opposite the Supermarine factory at Woolston, Southampton water.



Hamble 1

MA12 Fairey Seafox at Hamble.


MA13 AVRO factory at Hamble

RAF Pembroke Dock


Golden Hind

MA15 Golden Hind looking very purposeful at Rochester


MA16 Caledonia high & dry at Hythe


MA17 RAF Mountbatten moorings Plymouth Sound

2 thoughts on “Marine Aviation”

  1. When I was young, we used to go on holiday at ‘Southsea’ (mostly day trips by train or with a local coach company) or on one occasion for a whole week.
    My parents would often take us on boat trips to Southampton Docks either from South Parade Pier (Southsea) or Clarence Pier (Portsmouth) and on one occasion (about 1956) we saw numerous ‘boats moored at Hythe (Solents/Sandringhams I presume) and across in the ‘Royal’ docks, a solitary Pan Am clipper, plus the 3 Princess boats beached at Calshot.


  2. Hi there, just became alert to your blog through Google, and found that it is
    truly informative. I’m going to watch out for brussels.

    I will be grateful if you continue this in future.
    Numerous people will be benefited from your writing.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s