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Folland Aircraft Limited

Manufacturing aircraft components which included 35,000 major assemblies for a wide range of British military aircraft.

 Folland Aircraft

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The origins of Folland Aircraft lie with British Marine Aircraft Limited which was formed in 1936 to produce Sikorsky Flying Boats under licence in the UK.

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


Folland Gnat Prototype G-39-2 on take off run in 1955
In 1959 Folland Aircraft Limited was merged with the Hawker Siddeley Group who finally dropped the name Folland in 1963. Latterly the facilities on the Hamble became part of British Aerospace (Aerostructures) concentrating on fuselage construction and design. The airfield at Hamble closed in 1986 and nowadays the former Folland facility is part of General Electric.


  British Marine Aircraft Limited
1937 Folland Aircraft Limited                                                                  
1963 Hawker Siddeley Aviation
1977 British Aerospace
1999 BAE Systems


1940 Folland FO 108 (F43/37) 1955 Folland Gnat                    
1954 Folland Midge    

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