RNAS Culham (HMS Hornbill) is the name of a Royal Naval Air Station (RNAS) near Culham, Oxfordshire. It opened in 1944 as an Aircraft Receipt and Despatch Unit for the Royal Navy.
The ground layout was typical of many bomber stations, with three runways. However it had a large number of hangars which were situated mostly around the field’s boundary. Initially HMS Hornhill was used to train reservists based in the Thames Valley region utilising a number of different types of aircraft including Supermarine Seafires, Sea Furys and Harvards. In May 1947 the Photographic Trials and Development Unit was based at HMS Hornbill, and in 1951 No. 1840 Naval Air Squadron operated at the airfield for a short time.
The airfield closed on September 30, 1953 and was subsequently used by the Admiralty as a storage facility. In 1960, the airfield was handed over to the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority for use in nuclear and atomic research. It is now home to an international, collaborative, high energy nuclear physics project — the Joint European Torus (JET).
As HMS Hornbill II, RAF Beccles was a temporary lodging area under Culham’s administration.