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Report - - RAF Thurleigh / RAE Bedford Wind Tunnel Site - October 2015 | Military Sites | 28DaysLater.co.uk

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


Exploring with Andy

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

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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​
 
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