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Report - RAF Thurleigh / RAE Bedford Wind Tunnel Site - October 2015

Discussion in 'Military Sites' started by AndyK, Jan 12, 2016.

  1. AndyK

    AndyK Behind Closed Doors
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    The former RAF Thurleigh had been built in 1941 as a new RAF Station. Its first use was by No. 160 Squadron, forming on 15 January 1942, equipped with U.S.supplied B-24 Liberator bombers, known by in RAF service as the "Liberator II". 160 Squadron trained and flew operational missions from Thurleigh until 5 July.

    Following the Second World War, RAF Thurleigh became the second Royal Aircraft Establishment site and was renamed RAE Bedford. Two new runways were built in the post-war period to accommodate the Bristol Brabazon aircraft (which required a very long runway) that ultimately never went into production. A new control tower was opened in 1957. The airfield was decommissioned in 1994.

    The site had several reasonably large wind tunnels, one supersonic and one large subsonic. It also had a 'drop tower', which is now used as a skydiving training venue. The 8ft x 8ft supersonic tunnel was dismantled in 2005.

    A good description of the supersonic wind tunnel is available on the Open University website.

    Visited with @SpiderMonkey

    RAF Thurleigh Control Tower
    We started off in the control tower of RAF Thurleigh. The rest of the base is now in use as car storage and repair workshops.

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    1. Control tower external

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    2. Inside the control tower

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    3. Staircase

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    4. Line jack panel

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    5. Room in control tower​

    Royal Aircraft Establishment Wind Tunnels - Control Room
    Next we moved on to the control room of RAE Bedford's Wind Tunnels

    rae-bedford703f9c.jpg
    6. Central station with control banks behind

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    7. Panels

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    8. Dials and gauges

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    9. Central Station

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    10. The large control panels​

    Royal Aircraft Establishment Wind Tunnels - Wind Tunnels
    The 8ft x 8ft supersonic wind tunnels themselves, and all equipment have long been removed, however the entry and exit points of the huge pipes are still clearly visible


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    11. Air pipe entry point

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    12. Entry point

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    13. Exit pipe

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    14. Air portals

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    15. Elevated view

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    16. The huge test space

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    17. Portals

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    17. Crane in side area

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    18. Area to one side

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    19. Overview​

    Smaller wind tunnels control room
    Finally we visited the control room of a smaller former wind tunnel set-up in another building.


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    20. Older control room

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    21. Control desk

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    22. Control panels​
     
    #1 AndyK, Jan 12, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2016
    jsp77, SPQ, jST and 3 others like this.

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  2. WelshMoocher

    WelshMoocher Hello Dave!
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    Cracking set, particularly like #2
     
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  3. Ciaran

    Ciaran 28DL Full Member
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    These photos are so good.
     
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  4. wellingtonian

    wellingtonian Subterráneo
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    Rather nicely done :thumb
     
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  5. mattdonut

    mattdonut likes teh HDr
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    The control tower has gone rather green in the last five years !
     
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  6. host

    host 28DL Regular User
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    I just did a little sex wee…stunning shots mate and cracking location.
     
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  7. Lost Explorer

    Lost Explorer Who Dares Wins
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    Wow thats great! I remember being chased round here by security with DHL, shame we never got inside the buildings!
     
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  8. Session9

    Session9 A life backwards
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    Wow, wish this was my set. Cracking snaps mate :)
     
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  9. Dempsey

    Dempsey The Human Turbine.
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    Great place. Shame the gen sets have been taken out! Any idea of what was once there?
     
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