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Unit History: RAF Eastleigh

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

Forces Reunited Gallery Images Matching RAF Eastleigh


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Memories of RAF Eastleigh

(Memories written by members of Forces Reunited)

Kenya RAF Eastleigh ASTRA Cinema in 1963

Written by Martin Kincaid

Great memories of showing four different films each week without getting any breaks in the film.

raf eastleigh, nairobi in 1963

Written by colin beard

Colin (right) at Patrick (Paddy) Gaughrans wedding. Would like to hear from anyone who served at Eastleigh 1963-4 on 21 squadron.

RAF Eastleigh, in 1962

My youngest son was born april 21/62 was at the in the MT section was a good friend of f/sgt dennis sprag and family we had meny outings to thika falls

Forces Reunited Forum Posts Involving RAF Eastleigh

"...back seats with us. El Hamra! After only 3 days I was rudely snatched from this new experience of tents and sand, oh, and shots in the night, and inveigled aboard an RAF Valetta aircraft which took me, and shudder ye may at the very thought, to RAF Eastleigh in Kenya, via night stops in Khartoum and another in Aden. Yes, I know you can understand how terrified I was on discovering that I was to spend the next two and a half years just outside Nairobi. Now how rough can that be!!!!! Worse was..."
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"Hi George I served at RAF Eastleigh 1952-54 and went to Mombasa once. In 58-59 I was in Aden and went there again on leave. Nyali Beach R&R camp mainly used by Army and RAF I seem to recall. I seem to remember a Rainbow Bar, and The Star Bar. On the main drag I think. I drank enough to kill off the memory brain cells while there. lol At those times the train journey from Nairobi to Mombasa was I believe around 16 hrs. A bit longer Mombasa to Nairobi cos it’s uphill. Not navy oriented but maybe..."
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"...where I was accomodated, alone, nervous, slightly seasick, and very bewildered, until I disembarked at Port Said. Three days in El Hamra Transit camp, put on guard duty, taken off guard duty some six hours later to be told that I was posted to RAF Eastleigh, Kenya. Syd, were you on board the Windrush at that time? Did I have a cabin for the trip while you sweated down below in a hammock? If so, it’s a small world, innit!!! Carl [windrush01.jpg]"
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"This is RAF Eastleigh fellas, kenya 1958-60 "One of our main responsibilities was provision of a flare-path on the runway for night flying, there being no permanent lighting on this airfield. It was a messy job, involving dozens of ‘goose-neck’ flares the length of the runway and at the touchdown point for an aircraft landing. The taxi-ways were marked with battery-powered ‘glim’ lamps, in red blue and amber to mark off various turning areas. The flares were essentially a container for the..."
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"I’ve been asked from time to to time why I made what turned out to be a life-changing decision to leave the UK and got to New Zealand, so make yourselves comfortable! I was at RAF Eastleigh, near Nairobi in Kenya, 1958-60, and in the latter year there was a firm of Italian engineers doing some remedial work on the overshoot which involved a bit of blasting, so we were involved as a sort of safety crew. One of the engineers turned out to be a New Zealander, and I recall thinking at the time..."
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Active From: 1935 - Present

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