Based on the Hamble Peninsula with a slipway into Southampton Water, British Marine Aircraft became financially unviable during the mid-1930’s and despite failed attempts to merge with companies such as Westland, the liquidators appointed a new Board of Directors in 1937.
They renamed the company Folland Aircraft Company after Henry P. Folland, the new owner and Managing Director. Aircraft designer Folland had started at the Royal Aircraft Factory at Farnborough in 1912 alongside the likes of Geoffrey de Havilland.
Whilst at Farnborough, Folland designed the SE5a before joining Nieuport & General Aircraft in 1917.
When Nieuport failed in 1920, he moved to the Gloucestershire Aircraft Company where he was responsible for many types including the Grebe, Gamecock, Gauntlet and Gladiator. Folland left Gloster after it was taken over by Hawker, feeling that his designs would not take precedence over the new owners designs.
Folland Aircraft Limited started manufacturing aircraft components on the Hamble which included 35,000 major assemblies for a wide range of British military aircraft. Sub-contract work also involved the manufacture of ailerons for the Supermarine Spitfire. Additional work was taken out on the DH Mosquito and Vickers Wellington bomber.
The first true Folland type to fly was the FO108 although it was ultimately designed as a flying test bed which earned the nickname the ‘Folland Frightful’ due to its unusual appearance. Further designs were then tendered to meet research requirements of investigating the issues of landing aircraft on sea-borne carriers.
Henry Folland left the company through ill-health in 1951 and was replaced by WEW ‘Teddy’ Petter, designer of the EE Lightning and Canberra and he immediately set about the design and production of the Folland Midge, a lightweight jet fighter which first flew in 1954. This was followed by Follands most famous aircraft, the Folland Gnat, which became synonymous with the RAF Display Team the Red Arrows.
Folland diversified during the 1950's with ventures into 'cushioned air' products such as the Germ hovercraft. The Germ was part of a range of cushioned air products
|British Marine Aircraft Limited|
|1937||Folland Aircraft Limited|
|1963||Hawker Siddeley Aviation|
|1940||Folland FO 108 (F43/37)||1955||Folland Gnat|