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Report - RAE Bedford 8x8, 3x3 Windtunnels and RAF Thurleigh Tower - Apr/Dec 15

Discussion in 'Military Sites' started by hamtagger, Mar 28, 2016.

  1. hamtagger

    hamtagger 28DL Regular User
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    RAE Bedford 8x8, 3x3 Windtunnels and RAF Thurleigh Tower - Apr/Dec 15

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    The Explores

    The first visit was intended to be a quick recce as there had been nothing from the place for a few years, so naturally assumed it was sealed tight... but bloody hell are we glad we checked the place out! Explored with @Session9 and @The Lone Shadow over 2 days last April and accessed the 8x8 tunnel building and the ATC tower at Thurleigh the next day. The 8x8 building complex itself it situated within a live industrial area complete with active security driving/walking around and people/cars generally coming and going constantly. Even the main test area had live offices at one end with PIR’s covering that part stopping me from getting to the bottom of the massive ladders that led to the roof. I found out months later that these were inactive, twat. Various companies have warehouses or office space pretty much encircling the target building so access was lets just say a little tricky! At one point we squeezed and shuffled through pigeon shit and wheelie bins only to find it eventually led back outside again much to our amusement. A bit of perseverance and we were in.

    The History

    The origins of RAE Bedford date back to 1944, and Aeronautical Research Committee Report No. ARC 7500 which recommended the setting up of a National Establishment for aeronautical research and development. The Government, in accepting the report, decided to set up the Establishment at Bedford. The NAE became the Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE) Bedford in 1955

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    Authority to proceed with the construction of the 8x8 Tunnel was given in 1949 and it achieved its first run in 1955. Capable of operation at subsonic speeds and at supersonic speeds from a Mach number of 1.3 to 2.5, the air was driven by a 12-foot diameter, ten-stage axial compressor powered from an 80,000hp [60 Megawatts] electrical source.

    The advanced aerodynamic capability and quality of the tunnel was such that it was extensively used over a period of forty-six years and served many overseas customers, both military and civil, as well as meeting the British need. Finally surplus to requirements in 2002, its 10,000 tons of steel have hopefully been usefully recycled. All that remains today is he empty infrastructure that contained the tunnel and compressor....

    Aerial stock image of the now 'Twinwoods' site..
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    The first control room we were excited to stumble across, a series of blinded viewing windows allowed personnel to monitor the main compressor hall. Hadn't a wide angle lens then so only a couple of iPhone pano's really and i wish i'd spent a bit more time photographing this bit..

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    So, i took a wander down the hallway and came across a load of empty bland offices on the left and some interesting bits on the right..

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    Supply area..
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    Further down the corridor (which myself and @Urbexbandoned found sealed on a visit months later) I got excited when i read this sign..

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    Moving on from the main site lies the old RAF Thurleigh ATC tower. The Airfield is now packed full of vehicles, new and old, some of the older ones victims of the scrappage scheme but i wasn't hugely interested in these and we headed towards the tower itself via a few other barrack shaped buildings and a wooden radar pylon...

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    These didn't look worth the effort...
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    The tower...

    Jumping back to Apr 15…we decided to take a look at the ATC tower which was basically situated on the same site but on the other side of the massive multi-runway airfield. A long walk past some smelly sheep and a few dives into the bushes thanks to some farmer spreading equally smelly shit around the neighbouring field, eventually we were at the tower. On first inspection the place looked like it had been recently sealed with nice fresh looking boards all around but with a bit of head/ball scratching and a leap of faith from The Lone Shadow, myself and Session9 were in…

    We didn’t bother with zillion cars parked on the runways as there were transporters and humans in hi-viz kicking around most of the time..

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    Fast forward to November 2015, Myself and @Urbexbandoned returned once again to check out the 3x3 Tunnel building..

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  2. hamtagger

    hamtagger 28DL Regular User
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    29.
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    The 3x3' Control Room..

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    As always thanks for looking and feedback always appreciated : )​
     
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  3. Els

    Els Obsessed with BS7671
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    Love this place. You were lucky to see the power station bit as it's well sealed now.
     
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  4. The Lone Shadow

    The Lone Shadow Industrial Fanatic!
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    Top quality report mate - Big thumbs up from me :thumb That other building (the 3X3 tunnel) looks quality - I'm guessing thats where the third control room is? A revisit is definatley on the cards as Session and I haven't seen that part yet. We'll negotiate a time and see you soon ;)
     
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  5. The Lone Shadow

    The Lone Shadow Industrial Fanatic!
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    Ah bugger... I should know that timing is a key factor in exploring, lol.
     
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  6. AndyK

    AndyK Behind Closed Doors
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    Top quality that. Comprehensive coverage and well put together. Nice work :)
     
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  7. Lenston

    Lenston Bajo Tierra
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    Great report there mate, some good images for sure :)
     
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  8. Urbexbandoned

    Urbexbandoned 28DL Regular User
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    Great report, great pics. Write up is quality.
    Loved seeing it all :)
     
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  9. mattdonut

    mattdonut likes teh HDr
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    good report mate
    youve covered it really well
    id love to see inside the RedBull windtunnel
     
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  10. Dempsey

    Dempsey The Human Turbine.
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    Does anyone know when the turbo sets were ripped out?

    Love those old school control panels, somewhat a rarity these days! Get them whilst you can.
     
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  11. Els

    Els Obsessed with BS7671
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    2003 though the 8 x 8 was closed in 1983.
     
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  12. Dempsey

    Dempsey The Human Turbine.
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    Fair one, it eases that crunching stomach pain with the thought they may have been removed recently - had far too many of those.
     
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  13. The Kwan

    The Kwan funksoul Brother
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    Fascinating report mate, it must be a nice feeling to eventually cover it all, your determination paid off....Ace photos too, gotta love old documentation :thumb
     
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  14. Coolboyslim

    Coolboyslim Mr Reality Hacker
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    Absolutely Cracking that is matey. With some really nice pics. Great report. Really like this one. Thanks matey.
     
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  15. hamtagger

    hamtagger 28DL Regular User
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    Thanks @Els yeah I was glad we got to see that control room on my first visit and it was a shame to find it sealed up on the other couple of occasions :(

    Thanks mate, yeah mate its the observatory for where the 3x3 tunnel would've been. I think we got it lucky with the main control room on that first visit. Top day that was :)

    Cheers Andy mate, thanks for having a look :)

    Cheers Lee, crackin site this :)

    Thanks T, was really nice to go back here with you and was especially funny when they were filming that weird ISIS play. I wonder what that cameraman thought lol

    Cheers Matt, yeah i've been drinking monster in the hope that red bull will go bust :D

    Cheers mate, yeah i've got a personal interest in the site and what took place here back in the day, so it was nice to add that 3x3 control room finally :)

    Cheers CBS mate :)
     
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