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History Hovercraft history and manufacturers

Hovercraft Development Ltd (HDL) / NPL Hovercraft Group

REF NR: 339

Hovercraft Development Ltd. was established in 1959 by the National Research Development Corporation (NRDC) to develop and exploit the early hovercraft patents. They had a facility at Hythe, where the HD-1 and HD-2 development craft were developed.


HD-1 was of mainly wooden construction and was built by shipbuilders J. Samuel White of Cowes, Isle of Wight. The craft was described as the first non-amphibious craft with air curtains at both the bow and stern. It was built as a full scaled test bed for skirts and control.


The HD-2 was produced as a full sized test vehicle to research hovercraft controls.


In October 1967, the development and research aspect of HDL were transferred to the National Physical Laboratory to for the NPL Hovercraft Group. HDL continued with the licensing of the hovercraft patents. The Hythe site continued until the mid 1970s.


Craft: HD-1, HD-2, HU-4, Hover Bed, Tracked Hover