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Old 15th Dec 2009, 17:38   #1 (permalink)
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thurleigh/bedford

hi there guys! i am doing some research at the moment relating to qinetiq's site at thurleigh, i was wandering if anyone had any photo's of the simulators or the equipment onsite? any help would be greatly appreciated!

thanks

tim
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Old 16th Dec 2009, 08:29   #2 (permalink)
 
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What sort of research? And why?

G
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Old 16th Dec 2009, 08:47   #3 (permalink)
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hey genghis! basically we are tennents at the old qinetiq site so I'm trying to get some pictures and info about what happened there in the past!

thanks guys
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Old 16th Dec 2009, 09:06   #4 (permalink)

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Wings Over Thurleigh

ISBN 0-9541594-0-3

Chapter 3.6 is all about simulation and well illustrated

JF
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Old 16th Dec 2009, 09:11   #5 (permalink)
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thanks, i have still yet to find an available copy of that book
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Old 16th Dec 2009, 09:14   #6 (permalink)
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Bedford library has (or had) a copy of Wings Over Thurleigh.
it's in the local history section, not the main section.
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Old 16th Dec 2009, 10:38   #7 (permalink)
 
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Originally Posted by jifop View Post
hey genghis! basically we are tennents at the old qinetiq site so I'm trying to get some pictures and info about what happened there in the past!

thanks guys

Is that on the old airfield site, or the old wind tunnel site?

I worked circa 1991 on the tunnel site and can dig out some old notes, although I'd never done much more than visit the airfield once in a while.

My main work there was in the large supersonic wind tunnel, from memory it was 8ftx8ft in section, with a total volume of 450,000ft^3. We could run it up to M=3.5, although not at that large test section which would be reduced down a bit. The power consumption of that tunnel was quite high - in the order of 70MW, but it was an exceptional facility, albeit clearly very expensive to run. To avoid mashing up the instrumentation with the shock wave as we ran up, we'd normally suck air out down to around 5psi, then bring it up to the required Mach number (M, fraction of the speed of sound), then slowly re-introduce pressure until we got the right Reynolds number (a measure of scale used to match wind tunnel results to real aeroplanes) then we'd start moving the model about remotely to get the test results. The tunnel also had a pretty impressive video-Schlieren photography system, which allowed us to watch the shock waves on video monitors in the control room, which usually had about half a dozen of us in there (of which I was by far the most junior!) running the tunnel and model.

I worked there mostly on the testing of what is now called Eurofighter Typhoon, which we had in there up to around M=2.2 in a 1/18th scale model, which itself had cost around 1m to manufacture I was told. We spent many happy days testing it at various speeds and configurations, with holes left by various changes being smoothed off with enormous amounts of dental plaster.

I think that we had two other main wind tunnels on the site - a small transonic tunnel which had a similar power consumption and had originally been looted from the German rocket site at Peenemunde, and a vertical wind tunnel (now being used as some form of indoor skydiving facility I think) which was used for spinning tests. I don't recall his name, but there was a legendary technician there who could reputedly "throw" a free flying model aircraft into that tunnel achieving just about any spin mode you wanted.

I think that the whole thing, up to then proudly RAE, got subsumed into the new DRA organisation (which then became DERA and finally Qinetiq) circa 1992. The last superintendent of RAE Bedford was a chap called L.Owen Hudson who I think is still around but retired somewhere near Boscombe Down; I knew him reasonably well for a time (he was also probably the best Engineer I've ever worked for) and recall him being very distressed at having to give the order to remove the RAE crest from all the notice boards.

I'll dig through my old notes and see what else I can find (and check my facts are right!)

G
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Old 16th Dec 2009, 10:48   #8 (permalink)
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Wow Thanks g! We are in the enclave where the simulators were based and later The uav development.

It was originally rae then dra, dera and as you say finally qinetiq but asides from that we know nothing and have no photos which is a shame!
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Old 16th Dec 2009, 21:20   #9 (permalink)
 
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I worked there until a year or two ago - there weren't many cameras allowed in the QQ days!

A few Bedford projects in the 00's (all on Google):

VAAC Harrier - inc. JSF Control Laws & Autoland - it only flew from Boscombe, all the research was Bedford based
Autonomy - the stuff on the BAC111 surrogate & Tornado - plus bits of TARANIS
ASTRAEA - UAVs into civil airspace
Precision GPS for, amongst others, Williams F1
Mission Training Through Distributed Simulation

For a few years, we also led the world in cunning flight control laws for helicopters, but the famous 2004 cut ('We don't need no Chinooks') meant the Americans went their own way.

I have an old publicity VHS from 2000 - captures what happened back in the day with 'Flight Management & Control dept'. There were also lots of videos of the VAAC stuff. There'd be no harm in asking the QQ press office. Failing that, PM me & I'll give you a couple of contacts - a few of the Bedford team survive in the Farnborough underground.
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Old 17th Dec 2009, 12:25   #10 (permalink)

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jifop

From Wings Over Thurleigh:

First published in the UK by Michael D Dobson
"Trescott", Ravensden, Bedford, MK44 2RP

If you can't find a copy I would contact him.

JF
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Old 17th Dec 2009, 13:13   #11 (permalink)
 
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I've found some notes I made circa 1990 about the wind tunnels, and in particular the 8ft tunnel.

The 8ft tunnel was depressurised to a near-vaccum before accelerating: in the order of 3"Hg for supersonic acceleration, or 5"Hg for subsonic. Because at the time the evacuators (compressors really) were usually about 50% unserviceable it would take us about 30 minutes to get from 30"Hg (atmospheric) down to around 3"Hg (acceleration speed). The tunnel also used to get a lot of moisture in it so the visual cameras used to show their own condensation shock waves, separate to the supersonic shock waves we'd see on the Schlieren cameras. EFA (Typhoon) itself we only tested up to M=1.8, and my notes tell me that it was a 1:15 scale model, and to run it at M=1.8 we needed 68MW of power, and it would take 2-3 seconds to stabilise on each test condition (all run from the large soundproofed control room somewhere in the bowels of the tunnel itself.) We could position the model remotely with an accuracy of about 0.02.

A lot of the other boffinry going on on that site was in the prediction and analysis of airframe and weapon aerodynamics, and in particular there was a lot of work going on into the interactions between weapons and the aircraft they were being dropped/fired from - the objective being (1) Not to shoot yourself down during launch, and (2) to keep the weapon intact and roughly pointing in the right direction - unsurprisingly I think that Tornado was the main direction of a lot of that research work.

We also had rather a lot of computing power at the time - I was mostly engaged with a Prime 4050 mainframe, although I think that there was a Cray-1 supercomputer around the site somewhere (or linked from our in-house computer systems anyhow) that I never got to see, but various colleagues were definitely using. Rather less power than I have on my laptop now, but it seemed very impressive then!

G
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Old 17th Dec 2009, 15:15   #12 (permalink)
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Vandalism I'm afraid.

Was it moved or scrapped?

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Old 17th Dec 2009, 15:16   #13 (permalink)

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The tunnel G is talking about is inside the ellipse. The ancillary equipment needed to operate it is inside the rectangle. The tunnel at the top is the 13X9 the spinning tunnel is obvious.

At least it all looked like this in the 60s!

JF
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Old 17th Dec 2009, 17:24   #14 (permalink)
 
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It looked much like that about 1990.

I worked in the long white building next to the spinning tunnel - this seemed to be the home of most of the aerodynamicists.

I believe that the 8ft tunnel got scrapped by Qinetiq, but don't know this for certain.

G
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Old 17th Dec 2009, 19:58   #15 (permalink)
 
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Isn't the 8ft the one now ran by Red Bull F1? All of the tunnels had been decommisioned by 2007, but the spin tunnel & the above are in regular use now. None were actually scrapped - just switched off & not maintained.
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Old 18th Dec 2009, 15:58   #16 (permalink)
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None were actually scrapped - just switched off & not maintained.
The 8 foot is no longer there, hence my post of the google earth picture
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Old 18th Dec 2009, 18:29   #17 (permalink)
 
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my apologies - the others were left standing for someone else to renovate. We sort of stopped hearing about tunnel site when they announced the enclave closure.

We never heard about Fboro or ARA taking any of them & I think even the fboro tunnel is mothballed - so I assume it went to scrap for H&S reasons
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Old 19th Nov 2010, 16:50   #18 (permalink)
 
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Simulator

I have a text book written by Ken Staples, given to me by his widow (neighbour) which has some photo's. Will dig it out.

Sorry, just seen the age of this thread: I blame google.
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Old 19th Nov 2010, 17:12   #19 (permalink)
 
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my apologies - the others were left standing for someone else to renovate. We sort of stopped hearing about tunnel site when they announced the enclave closure.

We never heard about Fboro or ARA taking any of them & I think even the fboro tunnel is mothballed - so I assume it went to scrap for H&S reasons
ARA seem to be going more and more over to CFD.

Farnborough wind tunnels.

G
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Old 26th Nov 2010, 10:59   #20 (permalink)
 
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One little known aspect of the latter days was the use of the airfield as a C.O.B. or Combined Operating Base for Alconbury based U2Rs/TR1s. There was a semi permanent USAF detachment complete with 'chase' car and spare outriggers, and the aircraft regularly used to practice circuit bashing.
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