National Aircraft Factory No.1 – Croydon

An assembly shop in the N.A.F. No.1.  c.1918

Facility Type & Function:

National Aircraft Factory (N.A.F.) –  Manufacture of De Havilland DH9 bombers plus  interrupter gears

Brief History:

During World War I, the importance of military control of the air became evident at an early stage and thus the British government sought to significantly increase aircraft manufacturing capacity accordingly. Up until 1917 aircraft production had been in the hands of a few specialist private companies which, with government support, were producing 1,229 airframes per month by 1917. However, this output was still under target. To meet the shortfall the British government, under the direction of the Air Ministry, created three new “state of the art” aircraft factories. These were operated by private companies such as Cubitts, Sopwith and Cunard.

The National Aircraft Factory (N.A.F.) No.1 was built on 198 acres of flat ground at Waddon, near Croydon. The site included manufacturing facilities as well as airstrips to accommodate test flying.

A sketch map showing the location of N.A.F. No.1

The company contracted to both build and operate N.A.F. No.1 was Holland, Hannen and Cubitts. They were also fully responsible for engaging and training the site’s workforce which by 1918 comprised 1,458 men and 922 women.

The factory’s first orders from the Air Ministry were for the De Havilland DH9 bombers and for interrupter gears. The latter allowed forward-firing machine-guns to shoot through the arc of the propeller. The expectation was that the factory would produce 40 to 60 air frames plus spares and 600 interrupter gears per week.

A DH9 Light Bomber under final stages of assembly at the N.A.F. No.1, c.1918

Construction commenced on N.A.F. No.1 in late September 1917. Poor weather and a shortage of structural steel delayed the progress of the factory’s construction. However, by March 1918 the first plane had been produced and by mid-July it was producing 35 to 40 air frames per month.

Staff welfare facilities at the factory were good. In addition to there being staff canteens the site also had a resident doctor and medical bay.

At the end of the war, all outstanding orders were cancelled. Production at the factory continued into early 1919, by which time the factory had produced 241 aircraft (all DH9s) and 3000 interrupters. On the 11th January 1919 the factory was handed over to the Ministry of Munitions Salvage Department to become a salvage depot for surplus aircraft and equipment. A total of 1500 staff were laid off and the remaining 600 put on reduced wages. The factory then became a salvage depot, responsible for dismantling and storage of surplus aircraft. In 1920 it was sold to the National Aircraft Disposal Company (Airdisco). This company was a subsidiary of Handley Page and was established to refurbish surplus aircraft and sell them to all-comers. In the main they were sold to overseas governments. Airdisco continued to operate until December 1927. By 1929 the entire site had been turned over to Air Ministry. The site later became the home of Croydon Airport although none of the factories original buildings survived demolition.

Location Details:

Waddon, Croydon, Surrey – National Factory Area No.7

Associated Token, Check & Pass Issues:

Type I

Function:  Canteen token

Material: Dark brown coloured plastic with black lettering

Design: Uniface with a plain edge

Shape & Size: Circular,   34.6 mm

Obverse: Incuse legend around upper and lower edges reads N.A.F. and CROYDON respectively. Mark of value 6 in centre field.

Reverse:  Blank

Date: 1918 to 1919

Maker: Unknown

Published References:  Yarwood, J. & Johnson, M. – Supplement to Military Tokens of the British Commonwealth. Page 45 – MMT148. Private Publication. 2018.


Type II

Function:  Canteen token

Material: Cyan coloured plastic with black lettering

Design: Uniface with a plain edge

Shape & Size: Circular,   31.4 mm

Obverse: Incuse legend around upper and lower edges reads N.A.F. and CROYDON respectively. Mark of value 4 in centre field.

Reverse:  Blank

Date: 1918 to 1919

Maker: Unknown

Published References:  Yarwood, J. & Johnson, M. – Supplement to Military Tokens of the British Commonwealth. Page 45 – MMT147. Private Publication. 2018.


Type III (Variety A)

Function:  Canteen token

Material: Light blue coloured plastic with black lettering

Design: Uniface with a plain edge

Shape & Size: Circular,   29.0 mm

Obverse: Incuse legend around upper and lower edges reads N.A.F. and CROYDON respectively. Mark of value  3 in centre field.

Reverse:  Blank

Date: 1918 to 1919

Maker: Unknown

Published References:  Yarwood, J. & Johnson, M. – Supplement to Military Tokens of the British Commonwealth. Page 45 – MMT054. Private Publication. 2018.


Type III (Variety B)

Function:  Canteen token

Material: Light blue coloured plastic with black lettering

Design: Uniface with cancelled reverse design (Note 1)

Shape & Size: Circular,   29.0 mm

Obverse: Incuse legend around upper and lower edges reads N.A.F. and CROYDON respectively. Mark of value  3 in centre field.

Reverse: Incuse legend around upper and lower edges reads N.A.F. and CROYDON respectively . Mark of value  2D in centre field. Entire design cancelled with impressed cross bars.

Date: 1918 to 1919

Maker: Unknown

Published References:  Yarwood, J. & Johnson, M. – Supplement to Military Tokens of the British Commonwealth. Page 45 – MMT054 (variation). Private Publication. 2018.


Type IV (Variety A)

Function:  Canteen token

Material: Pink with black lettering

Design: Uniface with a plain edge

Shape & Size: Circular,   25.0 mm

Obverse: Incuse legend around upper and lower edges reads N.A.F. and CROYDON respectively. Mark of value  2 in centre field.

Reverse:  Blank

Date: 1918 to 1919

Maker: Unknown

Published References:  Yarwood, J. & Johnson, M. – Supplement to Military Tokens of the British Commonwealth. Page 45 – MMT053. Private Publication. 2018.


Type IV (Variety B)

Function:  Canteen token

Material: Pink with black lettering

Design: Uniface with a plain edge

Shape & Size: Circular,   25.0 mm

Obverse: Incuse legend around upper and lower edges reads N.A.F. and CROYDON respectively. Mark of value  2 in centre field (Note 2).

Reverse:  Blank

Date: 1918 to 1919

Maker: Unknown

Published References:  Yarwood, J. & Johnson, M. – Supplement to Military Tokens of the British Commonwealth. Page 45 – MMT053 (variation) . Private Publication. 2018.


Type V

Function:  Canteen token

Material: Red coloured plastic with black lettering

Design: Uniface with a plain edge

Shape & Size: Circular,   22.3 mm

Obverse: Incuse legend around upper and lower edges reads N.A.F. and CROYDON respectively. Mark of value 1 in centre field.

Reverse:  Blank

Date: 1918 to 1919

Maker: Unknown

Published References:  Yarwood, J. & Johnson, M. – Supplement to Military Tokens of the British Commonwealth. Page  45 – MMT052. Private Publication. 2018.


Type VI (Variation A)

Function:  Canteen token

Material: Red coloured plastic with black lettering

Design: Uniface with a plain edge

Shape & Size: Circular,   20.0 mm

Obverse: Incuse legend around upper and lower edges reads N.A.F. and CROYDON respectively. Mark of value ½ in centre field.

Reverse:  Blank

Date: 1918 to 1919

Maker: Unknown

Published References:  Yarwood, J. & Johnson, M. – Supplement to Military Tokens of the British Commonwealth. Page  45 – MMT051. Private Publication. 2018.


Type VI (Variation B)

Function:  Canteen token

Material: Red coloured plastic with black lettering

Design: Uniface with a plain edge

Shape & Size: Circular,   20.0 mm

Obverse: Incuse legend around upper and lower edges reads N.A.F. and CROYDON respectively. Mark of value ½ in centre field (Note 3).

Reverse:  Blank

Date: 1918 to 1919

Maker: Unknown

Published References:  Yarwood, J. & Johnson, M. – Supplement to Military Tokens of the British Commonwealth. Page  45 – MMT051. Private Publication. 2018.


Type VI (Variation C)

Function:  Canteen token

Material: Red coloured plastic with black lettering

Design: Uniface with a plain edge

Shape & Size: Circular,   20.0 mm

Obverse: Incuse legend around upper and lower edges reads N.A.F. and CROYDON respectively. Mark of value ½ in centre field (Note 3).

Reverse:  Blank

Date: 1918 to 1919

Maker: Unknown

Published References:  Yarwood, J. & Johnson, M. – Supplement to Military Tokens of the British Commonwealth. Page  45 – MMT051. Private Publication. 2018.


Type VI (Variation D)

Function:  Canteen token

Material: Red coloured plastic with black lettering

Design: Uniface with a plain edge

Shape & Size: Circular,   20.0 mm

Obverse: Incuse legend around upper and lower edges reads N.A.F. and CROYDON respectively. Mark of value ½ in centre field (Note 3).

Reverse:  Blank

Date: 1918 to 1919

Maker: Unknown

Published References:  Yarwood, J. & Johnson, M. – Supplement to Military Tokens of the British Commonwealth. Page  45 – MMT051. Private Publication. 2018.


Notes:

  1. These 2d tokens are the result of being stamped on the incorrect plastic blanks. Many of them retain vestiges of the blackened lettering on their cancelled reverse designs.

2. As for Type IV (Variety A) but with smaller and closer spaced legend lettering.

3. The variation amount these tokens  is in the placement of the dividing bar within the ½d numerical value.


 

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