National Aircraft Factory No. 2
In 1917, the UK government decided to increase the country's aircraft production capacity by establishing 'National Aircraft Factories'. These were to be managed by large established industrial firms from outside the aircraft industry. NAF No.2 was created at Crossley Road, Heaton Chapel, next to the London & North Western Railway company's line between Manchester (London Road) station and Stockport (Edgeley) station. Crossley Motors had partially completed a factory on the 15-acre (61,000 m2) site and this was incorporated in a revised larger facility to be managed by the firm. The factory was completed in mid 1918.
An initial production contract was received by NAF No.2 for 500 de Havilland DH.9 single-engined two-seat biplane day bombers for the Royal Air Force. The first DH.9 to be shipped from the Heaton Chapel factory was serial D1001 in March 1918. Approximately 450 had been built when production ceased in spring 1919. Early production aircraft were despatched from NAF No.2 by rail, using the factory's adjacent LNWR sidings, to an Aircraft Acceptance Park at Coal Aston near Sheffield for final erection and testing. From May 1918 the DH.9s were transported in sections by rail or road to an Aircraft Acceptance Park at the newly opened Alexandra Park Aerodrome in Manchester where the aircraft were assembled and flight tested before delivery to the RAF. The last 50 aircraft plus further NAF No.2 contracts for additional DH.9s were cancelled after the Armistice.
A further contract was received for the production of 200 de Havilland DH.10 Amiens twin-engined biplane day bombers. The first seven DH.10s (serials F351/357) were completed at NAF No.2, and test flown, from February 1919 onwards before the remaining machines on order were cancelled.
Closure of NAF No.2 and subsequent use of factory buildings
After the cancellation of remaining orders for military aircraft, the buildings were used by Crossley Motors for the manufacture of goods vehicles. The Fairey Aviation Company of Hayes, Middlesex, received large contracts for military aircraft and sought a dispersed factory site. They therefore took over the Heaton Chapel facilities in early 1935 and constructed further production buildings. Nearly 4,400 new aircraft were built at the factory between 1936 and 1958 and assembled at test flown at the nearby Ringway Airport.
- "National Aircraft Factory Near Manchester" (PDF), The Engineer, 127: 422–424, 2 May 1919
- Scholefield, R.A. (1998), Manchester Airport, Sutton Publishing, ISBN 0-7509-1954-X
- Scholefield, R.A. (2004), Manchester's Early Airfields: an extended article in Moving Manchester, Lancashire & Cheshire Antiquarian Society, ISSN 0950-4699