Part of the series "Sutton's Photographic History of Aviation", this text sheds light on Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose in Cornwall's Lizard peninsula - the Navy's biggest shore establishment. Culdrose is now the largest and busiest military air station in Europe, and on an active day carries out as many movements as a major international airport. Commissioned in 1947, the station has seen considerable variety in use. Originally the Navy's main training base, until the mid-1950s its main tasks were the development of air fighting tactics as well as the introduction of jet aircraft to Naval service. Culdrose also led the development of Airborne Early Warning and Electronic Warfare capability within the Navy. By the late 1950s the station was gearing up to manage the move away from fixed-wing aircraft toward the helicopter, assuming responsibility for the introduction into service of the Whirlwind, and then, in the 1960s, of the Wessex and Sea King. Culdrose has since developed and currently hosts both anti-submarine and Airborne Early Warning helicopter squadrons. The station's aircraft and crews have been deployed in both the Falkland and Bosnian conflicts.
A comprehensive Air Sea Rescue capability has been established, flying hundreds of missions every year. Culdrose is also home to the Fleet Requirements Air Direction Unit and the School of Flight Deck Operations, while the airfield at nearby Predannack has been resuscitated, and is used for helicopter training exercises. For the future, Culdrose will lead the introduction into service of the Navy's new helicopter, the Merlin.