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Report - Wind Tunnel Testing Site - RAE Bedford - June 2012

Discussion in 'Military Sites' started by Els, Jun 18, 2012.

  1. Els

    Els Obsessed with BS7671
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    A few years back I was looking at one of those film location web sites and came across some weird industrial complex that looked a fair bit like Pyestock. It was listed as “An industrial location 30 miles outside London”. I had no idea where it was or about its past history but it sure as hell looked interesting, all sort of Bakelite Flash Gordon dials and switches.

    A couple of months ago later I was reading an old 1950’s book about breaking the sound barrier which had a section on wind tunnels. I happened to Google wind tunnels which dragged up load of photo bucket pictures someone had loaded up which I recognized as the same site in the film location web site. They were taken some time back in 2004, shortly before the site was largely dismantled; only rather fortunately they had given the location.

    I happened to mention it to Northern Ninja, showed him the pictures and we discussed about going. I didn't really get my hopes up to high as the site lies smack bang in the middle of an extremely live area sporting the usual 24 hour security with people, cars and lorries going about their business pretty much from sunrise to sunset. We had organized a little road trip to take in of a few places around Bedford so we added it to the list, thinking a visit might be nothing more than a recce. As things turned out, Lady Luck smiled on us, I mean she really did give us a major break, probably one of the most serendipitous explores I've ever had.

    There isn't a vast amount of history on this site, mainly a few mentions in some obscure forums, but it looks like construction was started after the war and quite of bit of the equipment seems to have been “liberated” from Germany. Things carried on until the site was closed back in 2004. Quite a bit of the equipment has been “recycled” and is now used by Bodyflight Indoor Skydiving and the Red Bull motor racing team.

    Amway, enough of that.

    On arrival, it's a familiar story, a big impressive space with the lifting gear still in place but on the whole fairly stripped out. It's clear to see where the wind tunnel entered the building and where the aircraft testing chamber would have been placed. The motors to provide the compressed air would have sat on the plinth to the right.

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    Poking about under the plinth.
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    Standing where the test chamber would have been.
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    Then it's up the lifting gear.
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    Long way down.
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    Down one end of the hall it's clear the place has been used as a film set.
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    The spares store room. Empty apart from the shelving.
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    There is a goodish amount of paper work still left in situ.
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    #1 Els, Jun 18, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2013
    Kim Wright likes this.

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  2. Els

    Els Obsessed with BS7671
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    Re: Wind Tunnels - Milton Ernest - June 2012

    In the pictures I saw on the locations web site there were some ones of a couple of very nice Control Rooms and they didn’t disappoint once we found them. The first one was the Wind Tunnel Monitoring room which unfortunately didn’t really have very good light, just two small internal windows, so the pictures have come out a bit on the strange side.

    Anyway, I’m going to let them do the talking from now on in…

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    #2 Els, Jun 18, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2013
    Kim Wright likes this.
  3. Els

    Els Obsessed with BS7671
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    Re: Wind Tunnels - Milton Ernest - June 2012

    The second Control Room was used to monitor the Power Station.

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    #3 Els, Jun 18, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2013
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