Seaplane Experimental Station

Seaplane Experimental Station
Felixstowe, Suffolk

Sheds and slipways
Coordinates 51°56′42″N 1°19′16″E / 51.945°N 1.321°E / 51.945; 1.321
Type Naval air station
Royal Air Force station
Site information
Controlled by  Royal Navy (1913-18)
 Royal Air Force (1918-19)
Site history
In use August 1913-June 1919 (June 1919)
Battles/wars First World War

The Seaplane Experimental Station, formerly RNAS Felixstowe was a British aircraft design unit during the early part of the 20th century.


The unit at Felixstowe was commissioned 5 August 1913 under the command of Captain C. E. Risk, RM as Seaplanes, Felixstowe followed by Lieutenant C. E. H. Rathborne, RN in 1914 and Lieutenant-Commander John Cyril Porte, RN 1915.

RNAS Felixstowe was created soon after the outbreak of World War I following the formation of the Royal Naval Air Service 1 July 1914.


Felixstowe F.2Bs starting out on patrol. Some of the motor boats that towed them can be seen. A converted seaplane lighter with a flight deck moored on the right.

As the name implies, the unit designed seaplanes and flying boats. These were generally known by the Felixstowe name although, apart from the prototypes, these flying boats were built by aircraft manufacturers such as Short Brothers, Dick, Kerr & Co. and Phoenix Dynamo Manufacturing Company (the latter two forming part of English Electric in 1918–1919).

Upon Porte's recommendation, the station was initially equipped with Curtiss flying boats. He improved their hull designs, before developing the Felixstowe flying boats from those experiments. Many Felixstowe boats were built under licence in the USA. The craft were flown on long-range patrols to spot the German High Seas Fleet and Zeppelins, with many based at RNAS Felixstowe.

In 1916 they ran trials in conjunction with the Submarine Service at Parkeston Quay to test the carriage and launching of seaplanes carried on the deck of submarine E22.[1]

On formation of the Royal Air Force 1 April 1918, the unit was renamed the Seaplane Experimental Station, Felixstowe and disbanded in June 1919.


The base and its facilities were later used by the Marine Aircraft Experimental Establishment from 1 April 1924 until the Second World War. It was also used as a base by the Schneider Trophy team, the High Speed Flight. RAF Felixstowe closed 21 June 1962.


Station commanders

See also


  1. Paul Akermann, Encyclopedia of British Submarines 1901–1955
  2. "365 (Felixstowe) Squadron Air Training Corps". RAF Felixstowe - Station Commanders. Royal Air Force, 356 (Felixstowe) Squadron Headquarters, Carr Road, Felixstowe Suffolk IP11 3RX United Kingdom. Retrieved 2 September 2013.
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