British Marine Aircraft Ltd was formed in February 1936 to produce Sikorsky S-42-A flying boats under licence in the UK. The company built a factory on the western side of the Hamble peninsular with a slipway to Southampton Water. The Sikorsky deal came to naught, however, and the company was sold to Henry P. Folland , formerly Chief designer for Gloster Aircraft Company, who renamed it Folland Aircraft Limited on December 24 1937. Folland began aircraft assembly at Hamble making parts for Bristol Blenheim and Beaufort bombers. Folland later took on sub-contract work making parts for de Havilland Mosquitos and Vickers Wellingtons.
The first aircraft of its own design to fly was the Folland Fo.108 in 1940. Designed and built to meet the Air Ministry specification 43/47 for a flying engine testbed it was generally known as the 43/47 or by the nickname "Folland Frightful" from its unusual appearance.
W. E. W. Petter, who had designed the Westland Lysander, English Electric Canberra and English Electric Lightning, joined the company as managing director in 1950. He designed the Folland Midge, which first flew August 11 1954, and the Folland Gnat training jet (July 18 1955). Both were built at Hamble until the 1960s. In 1959 Folland was acquired by Hawker Siddeley who dropped the Folland name in 1963. Ultimately, Folland became part of British Aerospace (BAe). Although Hamble airfield closed in 1986, BAe continued to use the premises there for the production of major assemblies for Harrier and Hawk jets.