had begun life as the home of the local flying club and was
adopted by the RAF in 1935. The primary duties of the unit
were to work on special projects. Airspeed Ltd was also based
here, they were involved in designing camouflage systems for
aircraft, and they also constructed the 'Horsa' military transport
gliders later to be used during the invasion of France.
In 1940, many unusual aircraft with specialised modifications
could be seen here, along with the young scientists charged
with the task of making everything work...
facility was considered essential for the testing of the pre-production
AI radars being developed at TRE Worth some 26 miles away.
There were three hurricanes allocated to the unit for protection.
The main drawback with Christchurch was that it only had very
short, grass runways (5), quite unsuitable for full military
flight-testing involved Blenheims, Beaufighters and Mosquitoes.
Lancasters and Wellingtons would have been unable to land
here. The limitations were partly resolved when a new aerodrome
was opened at nearby Hurn in August 1941.
Initially, work involved the development and testing of AI's
Mk V, VI and then came the centimetric AI Mk VII. This system
was flight tested over the Solent in late 1941 and was destined
soon to become known as H2S. The first trials-equipped Halifax
arrived at Hurn in March 1942; just as TRE left Worth Matravers
In March 1944, the 405th fighter group of the USAF arrived
at Christchurch with their squadrons of P47 Thunderbolt fighter-bombers
in preparation for D-Day.