Post War, 1950s 

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Post war Meteor in flight, the first operational jet

Post War HMS Daedalus: 1950s

By the mid 50's there were no less than three Flag Officers stationed in Daedalus - Flag Officer Ground Training, Flag Officer Sea Training (Air) and Flag Officer Air (Home). As the Carrier Force diminished, the Flag Officers' posts were reduced and moved, but Daedalus remained the technical hub of the Fleet Air Arm.

HMS Daedalus provided a base for the Naval Air Technical Evaluation Centre, the Naval Air Trials Installation Unit, the Mobile Aircraft Repair Transport and Salvage Unit, the Naval Aircraft Accident Investigation Unit, the Flight Safety Equipment Trials and Training Unit and many smaller units. It also retained 781 Squadron - operating Dominie, Expeditor, Firefly, Harvard, Meteor T.7, Oxford, Sea Fury, Sea Prince, Herons, Devons and helicopters to provide transport throughout the Naval Air Command and a search-and-rescue facility. 781's tasks also consisted of providing communications aircraft for VIPs, and operating an "Instrument Examining Flight" and also a "Bad Weather Flying Training Flight" which undertook day and night training of all naval pilots in flying in adverse weather conditions.

781 squadron provided a Search and Rescue (SAR) commitment for the Fleet Air Arm up till October 1952 when the squadron's Sea Otters were withdrawn. The following month the squadron subsequently took over the Junior Officers Air Course (JOAC) and formed a JOAC Flight of an Anson 1, four Firefly Trainers, two Meteor T.7s. and a Sea Prince, which were later replaced by Sea Vampires and Sea Balliols until the Flight became 702 squadron in September 1957 equipped with Sea Devons.

Percival Sea Prince on the runway in the 1950s

An Admiralty Flight was formed in September 1954, with two Firefly Trainers and four Sea Furies, on which staff and Admiralty pilots could keep in flying practice.

The helicopter was increasingly replacing the role of the fixed wing aircraft in the Fleet Air Arm, which led 705 squadron to be restyled as a Helicopter Training Squadron at Lee-on-Solent in November 1955, where it remained until moving to Culdrose in 1958.  Lee-on-Solent, and the resident 781 Communications squadron was to see its first Whirlwind HAR.1 in 1959.
Lee-on-Solent establishment renamed as HMS Ariel, 1959

On 31 October 1959, the Station was renamed HMS Ariel on becoming a ground training establishment, and included the Naval Recruiting Unit, RN Air Electrical School which had moved from Worthy Down. HMS Daedalus became purely Wykeham Hall, the locally based headquarters of Flag Officer Naval Air Command.


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