RNAS Culham (HMS Hornbill)

RNAS Culham (HMS Hornbill) was a Royal Naval Air Station (RNAS) near Culham, Oxfordshire. It opened in 1944 as an Aircraft Receipt and Despatch Unit for the Royal Navy. Coordinates: 51°39′31″N 1°13′42″W / 51.65861°N 1.22833°W / 51.65861; -1.22833

The ground layout was typical of many bomber stations, with three runways. However it had a large number of hangars which were sited mostly around the field's perimeter. Initially HMS Hornhill was used to train reservists based in the Thames Valley area using several different types of aircraft including Supermarine Seafires, Hawker Sea Furys and North American Harvards. In May 1947 the Photographic Trials and Development Unit was based at HMS Hornbill, and in 1951 1840 Naval Air Squadron operated from the airfield for a short time. Ab initio flight training of cadets from Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, flying primary gliders, was also undertaken here in the early 1950s.

The airfield closed on 30 September 1953 and the Admiralty subsequently used it as a storage facility. In 1960 the airfield was transferred to the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority for use in nuclear and atomic research. The Joint European Torus (JET) nuclear fusion project is now based at the site.

RAF Beccles was a temporary lodging area under Culham's administration,[when?] and as such was called HMS Hornbill II.


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