After recovering from pneumonia GMA joins 781 Squadron (Communications) at Lee-on-Solent

With the expansion of the RAF during the 1930s  Parliament decided that the Fleet Air Arm should transfer to the Admiralty whereby the Royal Navy would again obtain practical control of its aircraft and shore-bases. Headquarters of the Fleet Air Arm was to be at Lee-on-Solent, which was, like all naval shore establishments, given a ship's name, and the Royal Naval Air Station (RNAS) was commissioned as HMS Daedalus on 24 May 1939, becoming the headquarters of Flag Officer Air (Home) and the barracks from which all Fleet Air Arm ratings were drafted to ships and squadrons
Progressive enlargement led to the site of HMS Daedalus totaling nearly 500 acres, of which 100 acres are covered with buildings, the remaining 400 acres as airfield.

Lee-on-Solent (HMS Daedalus) Airfield

Aircraft flown: Percival Proctor, Fairey Albacore, Percival Vega Gull, de Haviland Tiger Moth and de Haviland Dominie

Percival Proctor


Percival Proctor III LZ766 G-ALCK preserved at the IWM Duxford (UK)


The Proctor was initially a military variant of the Vega Gull with seating reduced to three. It was primarily used for training and communication work by the RAF, FAA, and Air Transport Auxiliary. The Proctor I was a communications model, and the naval version carried a radio operator in the rear. The Proctor II was used by the FAA with the radio operator alongside the pilot.

Percival Vega Gull

A total of 7 Vega Gulls served with the Fleet Air Arm, 5 of which were impressed in January until March 1940, and another being ex RAF Middle East provided to the RN in Dekheila March 1941.  It was primarily used for training and communication work.

The Vega Gull was finally retired on 7 March 1945 when the last aircraft was paid off  from 781 squadron at Lee-on-Solent.    

De Havilland DH 82 Tiger Moth

The Tiger Moth is one of the major success stories of aviation. The pre-war biplane trainer Tiger Moth was evolved from the DH 60 Gipsy Moth, a 1924 design. Flown for the first time on 26 October, 1931, the Tiger Moth was subsequently developed during the early 1930s as a military trainer.  The DH 82 was powered by a 120 hp Gipsy II engine, but the 1939 DH 82a  received the 145 hp Gipsy Major. More than 1,000 Tiger Moths were delivered before WWII, and subsequently 4,005 were built in the UK and shipped all over the world. 1,747 were built in Canada (the majority being DH 82cs with enclosed cockpits, brakes, and tail wheels)

The Fleet Air Arm received all its 113 Tiger Moths as various transfers from the RAF. The first was delivered to 6 MU in September 1939 thence to 781 squadron at Lee on Solent in May 1940 (N9201). The majority of the FAA Tiger Moths saw service with 781 squadron from July 1941 until 1943, as well as 758 and 756 squadrons.

De Havilland DH 89Dominie

The Dominie was an elegant British transport biplane. The Mk.I was primarily a navigation trainer version of the Dragon Rapide. The Dominie Mk.II was a liaison aircraft. The Dominie served with the RAF and FAA, and seven in the Belgian AF service. A total of 66 DH Dominie served with the Fleet Air Arm, mainly various transfers from the RAF. Their role was primarily for ferrying personnel, however, X7394 and X7487 of 782 squadron were used as air ambulances.

The  first aircraft delivered (R9563) was an ex RAF Dominie delivered to 9 MU in May 1940, and  the same aircraft was the first to delivered to a FAA second-line squadron in August 1940. The remainder of the Dominie aircraft were delivered to 782 squadron between 1941-1945, however  some also went to 781 squadron. The wartime Dominies were  finally retired from the FAA in July 1946 with NF871 at Middle Wallop NARIU. However the type saw service with the FAA until at least the 1950s, including with front-line squadrons (1832 and 1844 squadrons).