does anyone know if this is still there?Royal Aeronautical Establishment, BedfordThroughout the late 1930's and early 1940's there was a mass growth and interest in the UK for aircraft development both in commercial and military usage, accelerated by the arms race of the ongoing second world war.
Set up as the National Experimental Establishment, later becoming the Royal Aeronautical Establishment in 1945, it was originally planned to use already existing Farnborough site to take up the role as a testing facility for future areospace projects. It was later decided that the site would be based in Bedforshire, making use of the existing RAF Thurleigh airfield and basing the wind tunnels and other facilities at the former Twinwood farm.
Construction began in 1947 to convert the Thurleigh airfield with works such as the runway extension taking place as well as the construction of a new control tower with the windtunnels starting to appear at the Twinwoods site in 1946 with most construction work running into the late 1950's. The Twinwoods site housed four windunnels, 3ft x 3ft, 3ft x 4ft, 13ft x 9ft and 8ft x 8ft in size, along with the accompanying structures.
Images from https://www.bahg.org.uk/
The tunnels saw heavy usage in the years to come working on almost all Aircraft projects in the UK and some worldwide. Mainly due to the vast knowledge of those employed and advanced facilities which the site provided quoted as being "the finest research and development establishment outside the U.S.A." by Author Percy in his book of RAE bedford.
The wind tunnels saw development of aircraft such as the Concorde as well as the Hawker Siddeley Harrier as well as military rockets and weapons.
RAF Thurleigh was prominently used for developing flight systems and later aircraft designs including helicopters.
Systems such as Tactical Landing Guidance, MADGE (Microwave Aircraft Digital Guidance Equipment), Area Navigation and Flight management, Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) which all have links to their development at the airfield.
We covered this explore across three separate visits. With the first being the 3x3 tunnels, in which I broke my camera, then thurleigh control tower and later the main 8x8 wind tunnel labs in September.
I'll start in no apparent order, with the best bit.
The 8X8 windtunnel Lab.
After numerous entry attempts we had entered the building and quickly made our way to the place we had came to see. The building contains two separate control rooms one for the windtunnel and another for the immense power supply required for the tests, heading to the power control room first.
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Afterwards was the control room used for the tunnel itself.
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Following on we headed into the hall which the tunnel and compressor/turbine used to be situated.
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The 3x3ft Tunnel Building
Next up was the smaller building which has a vast contrast to the structure before giving a heavy resemblance to some of the levels from the Portal 2 videogame.
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Last but not least is the Thurleigh control tower on a cold and miserable afternoon.
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And that should be everything. Thanks For Lookin