Airspeed factory, Portsmouth Airfield

AddressPortsmouth PO3 5PW, UK
Location typeAirfield
Site Ownership and Access InformationThe Airspeed Factory covered most of the area between Airport Service Road, Robinson Way and Anchorage Road. The former airfield site includes residential and estates, part of which are accessible to the public. Some of the old airfield buildings can still be seen from the public road.
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One of the key features of D-Day was the use of Allied airborne troops to seal off both flanks of the landings on the beaches. Many of these troops landed by parachute, but gliders were also vital for landing heavy equipment, or for making accurate and rapid deliveries of assault troops to critical targets.

On D-Day, the British 6th Airborne Division famously used gliders in their attacks at “Pegasus Bridge” and the Merville Battery, amongst many uses on that day. Both the American and British airborne forces used the Horsa glider, which was designed by Airspeed, whose factory and headquarters were at Portsmouth airfield. Airspeed did not build any Horsas in Portsmouth in fact, but some local firms (such as the furniture manufacturer White and Newton) did convert to wartime armaments work and built sections of Horsas.

In the late 1930s, one of the directors of Airspeed was Nevil Shute Norway, better known as the author Nevil Shute. One of the roads in this area is named after him.

View on the D-Day On Your Doorstep map