RogerBW's Blog

Farnborough Air Sciences Trust 03 March 2017

On a slightly warm February day, to Farnborough to visit the museum on the former site of the Royal Aeronautical Establishment at Farnborough. Images follow: cc-by-sa on everything.

Main gate.

Harrier insignia (No. 20 Squadron RAF).

Tail of Hawker Siddeley Gnat T.1 XP516.

Hawker Hunter T7 WV383, converted to a dual-seat trainer after a wheels-up landing; used as a testbed for night and adverse weather operations, thus the name.

Jindivik target drone.

Lightning XS420, getting a polish with WD40.

AĆ©rospatiale Gazelle, ex Fleet Air Arm and later Army. Visibility is great, and all the bits are out where you can get at them when they break.

This map is from 2014. It may repay detailed analysis.

Moving inside, a Whittle W2.

"As useless as a china aeroplane" is a phrase that must enter my lexicon.

The first few RAE Caterpillars (successful bailings out of aircraft).

Curta calculator.

And other calculating tools.

Experimental double-sided compressor, used in the development of Rover gas turbine cars.

1940s aircrew rations.

Sperry electromechanical bomb-aiming computer.

Various aircraft radios.

Wind tunnel test models for missile heads.

Model of one of the altitude test cells (a wind tunnel with extras).

RB108 lift engine, and Conway axial-flow turbofan.

Various wind tunnel models for proposed Concorde shapes.

More wind tunnel models, mostly for missile heads.

Last of the woodworker's art: test models for delta, W and M wings.

"No Truce With Physics": model for a proposed M-wing supersonic airliner.

Not what you might think, though clearly influenced by it: what might have been in service now.

Small and large M- and W-wing models used for V/STOL testing: yes, that's a Harrier cockpit shape.

Stiletto supersonic target drone.

Demonstration Comet fuselage section.

Comet post-crash analysis.

Chevaline package for a Polaris missile.

Replica of the Cody Flyer (aka British Army Aeroplane No 1). Nobody seems to know what happened to the original, though its engine is apparently in the Science Museum. Note the radiators: the engine is water-cooled.

A pair of training WE.177s.

The whole thing feels quite out of date and often amateurish, but they have some very good Stuff. Highly recommended. (I also got the impression that sitting in cockpits is entirely viable if you chat up the staff.)


  1. Posted by Richard Eames at 03:38pm on 24 May 2017

    How "up to date" can it be? I think you may be missing the point - everything there (and 20 or so containers out the back) would have been scrapped but for the time and effort of a bunch of "amateurs".

  2. Posted by RogerBW at 04:53pm on 24 May 2017

    Hi, Richard, and welcome to the blog.

    As you'll see if you read more of my museum pieces, I'd always much rather see the real object than a shiny interactive video demonstration. At the same time, I think the FAST museum has the air of having been frozen some time in the 1970s: labels are faded and illegible or completely missing, mechanical demonstration models are broken, Concorde is talked about in the present tense, the (Microsoft-based) flight simulator apparently hasn't worked for years but it still takes up lots of space that could go to better display of actual things, and so on. This is not a matter of needing elite curation skills; just some basic housekeeping would be really welcome.

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