Guest features explore engineering-related themes, other features appear at the bottom.

Flexing Fledgling Wings at Farnborough

The First World War saw British military aviation develop from a small number of squadrons flying unarmed aircraft for reconnaissance to large forces using aircraft designed for a wide range of specialist roles. The Royal Aircraft Factory at Farnborough played a key part in ensuring that the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) and Royal Naval Air Service were equipped with aircraft, engines and weapons that met their changing needs.

The Factory grew from the Army Balloon Factory that had been at Farnborough since 1905. Its first aircraft designs appeared in 1911, with the RAF 1 engine in 1913. Aircraft design was in its infancy and not always successful – in 1912 a ban on monoplanes was introduced by the RFC following two accidents; although this was lifted the following year the structural integrity of aircraft was a major concern.

Farnborough tested the strength of aircraft structures using a very simple technique. To simulate the upward flexing of wings as they generated more lift, the aircraft would be turned upside down and sandbags placed on the wing surfaces. The loading would then be gradually increased until the structure failed.

The work of the Factory during the conflict covered the whole gamut of military aviation. Research and development covered engines, aircraft, wireless and weaponry. Wind Channels (tunnels) were used to test aerofoil shapes – the RAF series of aerofoils were widely used in the inter-war years – and a Whirling Arm was used to test propellers. Perhaps the Factory’s most famous design was the SE5a fighter, which entered service in 1917 and was flown by a number of British pilots who became aces, notably Albert Ball and James McCudden, both of whom received the Victoria Cross.

The designer of the SE5a, HP Folland, was one of a number of engineers who went on to leading roles in the British aircraft industry. Folland went on to work for the Nieuport and General Aircraft Company and then Gloster; before setting up Folland Aircraft Ltd in 1937.

Whilst at Farnborough, Folland was involved in a pioneering project to create a radio-controlled aircraft; arguably one of the first steps towards today’s drones, or Unmanned Aerial Systems. Developed under the title Aerial Target the aircraft was intended for use against German airships and as a flying bomb. It may be no coincidence that the V-1 flying bomb project of the Second World War had the cover name Flakzielgerät, a target for anti-aircraft guns!

Farnborough’s Aerial Target was controlled by a radio system developed by Professor AM Low; six examples were built and sent for testing at the RFC experimental works at Feltham, but the machine was not used in operations. 

After the formation of the Royal Air Force in April 1918, the Factory was renamed the Royal Aircraft Establishment and continued to be at the forefront of aeronautical research and development until 1991 when it was merged into the Defence Research Agency.

A survey of the work carried out at Farnborough*gives an idea of its wide-ranging contribution to aeronautical engineering during the First World War, which included:

  • Metallurgical problems of all-metal fuselage construction
  • Evolution of the first practical aeroplane compass
  • Streamlined bracing wires (RAFWires)
  • Variable camber wings and flaps and the initial investigations into the essentials of stability and control
  • Development of aircraft stressing methods
  • Bomb sights
  • Instruments
  • Navigation instruments
  • Variable pitch propellers
  • Techniques to recover aircraft from spins
  • Development of tool steel for aircraft valves
  • Special light alloys for pistons, cylinder heads and cylinder barrels
  • Supercharged aero-engines
  • Oleo undercarriages
  • Automatic remote control of aircraft
  • Inspection methods and services for aircraft and engines

Farnborough has been synonymous with aeronautical excellence for over a century; such work continues with the company Qinetiq, which retains a wind tunnel and other facilities at the site. The Farnborough Air Sciences Trust works to preserve Farnborough’s aeronautical heritage and maintains a museum on the site.

Archives, Royal Air Force Museum

Back to the top

Other Features

B.E.8 ready for a loading test; note the bags of sand laid out on the floor.

B.E.8 ready for a loading test; note the bags of sand laid out on the floor.

by User Not Found | 10 Nov, 2015


Leave a comment
  1. jackiedavis351 | Dec 14, 2018
    So luck to come across your excellent blog. Your blog brings me a great deal of fun.. Good luck with the site.
  2. thuy | Dec 13, 2018

    When you use a genuine service, you will be able to provide instructions, share materials and choose the formatting style.

    happy snakes online  , beat racer online  best online games  , christmas turkey cooking  best online games  ,

  3. john martin | Dec 13, 2018 is one of the best Security Antivirus product which can completely protect your digital online life. You can securely surf the internet with the To activate your  with product key you can visit is a product of office setup. Get support if you face problem to activate or install Microsoft office product. Install  with Product Key.     
  4. haris khan | Dec 13, 2018
    The best gourmet coffee in the world is Gold Star Coffee. Fireroasted & hand crafted. Order the worlds best coffee online with free fast shipping & enjoy great Gourmet Coffee. Best Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee
  5. haris khan | Dec 13, 2018
    NewSky Language center, formerly Duc Tri Foreign Language and Information Technology was established in 2001. There is more than 17 years in teaching language for all generation. hoc phi tieng anh tai tphcm
  6. haris khan | Dec 13, 2018
    Domino kiu kiu merupakan situs agen judi dominoqq, dominobet, domino qiu qiu domino qiu qiu
  7. haris khan | Dec 13, 2018
    Las Colinas Property offer new premium golf property for sale, including villas and apartments at the award winning Las Colinas Golf & Country Club Spain. Las Colinas Golf has been voted the World’s Leading Golf & Villa Resort 2018 by World Travel. Las Colinas Property For Sale
  8. haris khan | Dec 13, 2018
    Get all for home improvement, not only candle making, soap making and also himalayan salt lamp himalayan salt lamp benefits
  9. Shizuka Sharma | Dec 13, 2018
    Thanks for sharing this useful information with us.
  10. Shizuka Sharma | Dec 13, 2018

    Thanks for sharing the nice content.

    <a href="">Best Home Decor Store</a>

    <a href="">Home Decor Store in Noida</a>

    <a href="">Luxury Home Decor Store</a>

    <a href="">Buy Home Decoration Items in Noida</a>

    <a href="">Buy Artificial Flowers for Decoration</a>

  11. a | Dec 11, 2018
    BetFortuna menyediakan link alternatif terbaru ke situs taruhan resmi di Asia. Semua tautan diverifikasi dan terpercaya. Anda dapat mengakses BetFortuna melalui applikasi apa saja. macaubet
  12. haris khan | Dec 11, 2018
    Smartcric is a cricket blog that provides daily cricket news and updates.
  13. haris khan | Dec 11, 2018
    Great info! I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have. boston seo agencies
  14. haris khan | Dec 11, 2018
    FIFA55GET เว็บพนันออนไลน์ เปิดรับ แทงบอล แทงหวย แทงมวย พนันกีฬา พนันไก่ชน เล่นเกม เล่นคาสิโน และเล่น บาคาร่าออนไลน์ พร้อมรองรับทุกอุปกรณ์การเชื่อมต่อ IOS และ Android มีครบจบในเว็บเดียว ซื้อหวยออนไลน์
  15. haris khan | Dec 11, 2018
    Xender for PC download which will help you to connect your phone with Windows PC and will let you transfer files between the devices.Everything is set up naturally, and you will experience a very high user experience while using it. 90+% of its users are recommending it to other users, which itself a great deal. Xender App
  16. day noi mi | Dec 10, 2018
  17. muneeb | Dec 09, 2018 : Provided all drivers link download for Ij start canon ts312, ts3100, ts6120, ts9120, ij start canon setup, ts3122 setup, canon ij setup, ts9120, tr8520, ts6120, ts5100 ij start canon ts9120
  18. muneeb | Dec 09, 2018
    Karya Iklan yang merupakan Jasa pasang iklan koran kamimemiliki harga yang murah dan kompetitif. iklan koran
  19. muneeb | Dec 09, 2018
    Galapagos cruises on board Coral 1 and Coral 2 yachts, first class small boat wildlife journeys. Get up close with giant tortoises, marine iguanas, snorkel with sea lions and sharks. Family friendly departures available. Expedition Cruise
  20. muneeb | Dec 09, 2018
    Zilis is a premier provider of full spectrum, water soluble cbd oil. Containing over 400 biologically active compounds, icluding cbd, cannabinoids,flavonoids,terpenes,vitamins, fatty acids, and minerals. Ultracell creates an environment where the natural compounds work together to create a synergistic effect.
  21. muneeb | Dec 09, 2018
    PUBG Mobile Hack - Get unlimited battle points and free UC in PUBG Mobile on any deviceSimple and Very Fast! PUBG Mobile Hack
  22. muneeb | Dec 09, 2018
    We are wholesalers for evening dresses, bridesmaids dresses & prom dresses. wholesale wedding dresses uk
  23. muneeb | Dec 09, 2018
    Luqluq wear is a creator and curator of fashion, clothing lines, and wearables. Our focus is on eclectic designs, fine fabrics, innovative fashion and wearable art. We are the authorised Bokitta dealer since 2014, the first pin-less instant Hijab that can be worn perfectly well within seconds fashion
  24. muneeb | Dec 09, 2018
    Wir sind ein IT Systemhaus und stehen für Service und Beratung | Ihr kompetenter Partner rund um IT-Infrastruktur und -Lösungen für den Mittelstand. IT Solutions
  25. muneeb | Dec 09, 2018
    Online gambling guide. Check our free bets section and betting tips. free bets
  26. muneeb | Dec 09, 2018
    Dominoqq Adalah situs pertama di indonesia yang menyediakan Live Streaming games dengan permainan terbaru dan terpopular seperti AduQ, BandarQ, AduDadu dan Bandar Dadu, domino qiu qiu
  27. muneeb | Dec 09, 2018
    Accelerated Remodeling offers bathroom remodeling in McKinney TX and surrounding areas. bathroom remodel
  28. muneeb | Dec 09, 2018
    Muslim Marriage Events for British Muslim Professionals who live around the Manchester Area muslim marriage events manchester
  29. muneeb | Dec 09, 2018
    Welcome to Online Chat India Chat Rooms provides a web flash chat interface for chatting in India Chat room. Online India Chat is a chatting site for meeting with new friends to chat and discuss in your new ideas online chat rooms connecting 123 Flash Chat server chat online
  30. haris khan | Dec 09, 2018
    [해외안전놀이터]토토사이트-안전놀이터-사설토토사이트 추천 및 검증-토사랑 토토사이트
  31. haris khan | Dec 09, 2018
    사설토토사이트,안전놀이터,토토사이트,스포츠토토,안전놀이터추천,메이저놀이터,놀이터추천,토토사이트추천,토사랑 토사랑
  32. haris khan | Dec 09, 2018
    안전놀이터,사설토토사이트,메이저사이트,토토사이트 안전한 곳 추천해드립니다 100%안전 토토사이트
  33. haris khan | Dec 09, 2018
    안전놀이터,사설토토사이트|안전놀이터|메이저사이트|토토사이트|토토사이트추천|토사랑 토토사이트
  34. haris khan | Dec 09, 2018
    사설토토사이트,토토사이트,안전놀이터,메이저놀이터,사설토토,안전한사설토토사이트,안전놀이터추천 사설토토사이트
  35. haris khan | Dec 07, 2018
    vegas99Bet Agen Judi Casino Terpercaya melayani Daftar Casino Online Termurah Deposit 50Rb Hub : +855 8968 7977 Bonus Puluhan Juta SETIAP MINGGU! daftar judi baccarat sbobet
  36. haris khan | Dec 07, 2018
    Organic Children's environmentally friendly clothing & toys Australia organic children clothing
  37. haris khan | Dec 07, 2018
    Sunshine Coast deep sea and reef fishing charters reef fishing sunshine coast
  38. haris khan | Dec 07, 2018
    Bright Smiles Dentistry at Mountain Creek on the Sunshine Coast provides optimal oral health care and dental services. sunshine coast dentist
  39. haris khan | Dec 07, 2018
    The best quality Instagram Likes. Non Drop & Active IG Likes, only on InstaPromo. lajki instagram
  40. haris khan | Dec 07, 2018
    TIGER77BET adalah salah satu Situs SBOBET Resmi yang menghadirkan Daftar Judi Bola SBOBET kepada para bettor untuk bermain dengan modal termurah dan peluang menang besar dengan cepat Judi Bola SBOBET
  41. haris khan | Dec 07, 2018
    You ought to basically fantastic not to mention solid advice, which means notice: comprar seguidores instagram
  42. haris khan | Dec 07, 2018
    I am a DJ who combines activities for children. In addition I have a variety of attractions such as food stands, photography on magnets. Expert in Bat Mitzvah and Bar Mitzvah productions. די ג'י
  43. jackiedavis351 | Dec 05, 2018
     Easily, the article is actually the best topic on this registry related issue. I fit in with your conclusions and will eagerly look forward to your next updates. Just saying thanks will not just be sufficient, for the fantasti c lucidity in your writing. I will instantly grab your rss feed to stay informed of any updates.
  44. LINH | Dec 05, 2018
  45. Jack prabha | Dec 04, 2018
    Did you know about the network deployment?Rapid advances in technology mean frequent updates, and organizations must keep up with the changes or face losing their competitive edge. As new technologies like software definednetworking (SDN), SD-WAN, cloud computing and the Internet of Things (IoT) continue to grow in mellowness and adoption, organizations are faced with transforming their networks to keep up with the changes.For a project to really get going and ultimately be successful, dedicated people are required.
  46. Jack Prabha | Dec 04, 2018

    Did you know about the <b><a href="">network deployment</a></b>?

    Rapid advances in technology mean frequent updates, and organizations must keep up with the changes or face losing their competitive edge. As new technologies like software defined networking (SDN), SD-WAN, cloud computing and the Internet of Things (IoT) continue to grow in mellowness and adoption, organizations are faced with transforming their networks to keep up with the changes.

    For a project to really get going and ultimately be successful, dedicated people are required.

  47. thuy | Dec 04, 2018

    I want to we appreciate you this passion you cash in on throughout establishing the next few paragraphs. 

    madalin stunt cars 2 club 2 player   , juegos the world cup soccer 2018 club  , geometry jump club free online  ,

  48. haris khan | Dec 04, 2018
    watch all tv series online completely free. Update every 24 hours, no registrations, no malware ads. watch series
  49. haris khan | Dec 04, 2018
    Dunia303 WA : +85592217283 selaku Agen Situs Judi Termurah dan Terbesar di indonesia melayani pembuatan akun Daftar Judi Bola Online Mudah dan Gratis Daftar Judi Bola Termurah
  50. haris khan | Dec 04, 2018
    fmovies watch full movies and tv series online free fmovies

    Leave a comment


    *CF Caunter; A historical summary of the Royal Aircraft Establishment: 1918-1948; RAE Report 2150A; 1949