Unit History: RAF Eastleigh
In 1932 Southampton Corporation purchased the site and it became "Southampton Municipal Airport". By 1935 part of the site was being used by the Fleet Air Arm of the RAF and was briefly known as RAF Eastleigh before it became RAF Southampton in 1936. The military site was transferred to Naval command in 1939 and renamed HMS Raven, and subsequently spent most of the war in a ground and air training role for the Royal Navy. It eventually passed back into civilian ownership in April 1946.
During the 1950s a mainstay of business for the airport was the Cross channel car ferry service operated by Silver City Airways using Bristol Freighters and Superfreighters. In 1965 a new concrete runway was built, opening for use in 1966, enabling the operation of larger aircraft.
In 1936 Supermarine opened a test flight facility on the site, followed shortly thereafter by the opening of the Cunliffe-Owen Aircraft factory on the southern end of the runway. Both companies later closed their Southampton operations, Supermarine moving flying activities to Chilbolton, and Cunliffe-Owen selling their factory to Ford. This factory is still in use, although now located off-field due to the opening of the M27 motorway in 1983. Cierva Autogiro rented portions of the Cunliffe-Owen plants starting in 1946, and had to move to another location on the field when it was sold to Ford. They continued operations on the field until about 1960
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