Guest features explore engineering-related themes and are updated every 6 months, past 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

Graph from The variable pitch propeller – experiments conducted at the Royal Aircraft Factory (Advisory Committee on Aeronautics, Reports & Memoranda No. 402, January 1918

Graph from The Variable Pitch Propeller

by User Not Found | 10 Nov, 2015


Leave a comment
  1. khasiat walatra sehat mata | Mar 13, 2018
  2. Afiah | Mar 09, 2018
    thank you, the article is very helpful. Do not forget to read the articleobat vitiligo natural
  3. asd | Mar 03, 2018
  4. asd | Mar 03, 2018
  5. pills that enlarge breasts | Mar 03, 2018
    Considerably, this post is really the sweetest on this notable topic. I harmonise with your conclusions and will thirstily look forward to your incoming updates. Saying thanks will not just be sufficient, for the phenomenal clarity in your writing. I will directly grab your rss feed to stay informed of any updates. Admirable work and much success in your business dealings!  Please excuse my poor English as it is not my first tongue. pills that enlarge breasts
  6. Rivercove Residences floor plan | Mar 01, 2018
    Perfect work  you have done, this  web site  is really cool with good   information. Rivercove Residences floor plan
  7. lees summit martial arts | Feb 27, 2018
    I do enjoy the way you have framed this specific difficulty plus it does supply me personally some fodder for consideration. Nevertheless, from what I have observed, I simply just wish when other feed-back stack on that folks continue to be on point and not start on a soap box involving some other news du jour. All the same, thank you for this superb piece and although I can not really go along with this in totality, I respect your perspective. lees summit martial arts
  8. Escort Service in Karol Bagh | Feb 27, 2018
    i appreciate you for blogging!. “Whatever you fear most has no power – it is your fear that has the power.” by Oprah Winfrey.. Escort Service in Karol Bagh
  9. David Smith | Feb 27, 2018
    I found your article quite amazing. The information provided by you is really great and knowledgeable Online CME Dubai
  10. ignition training | Feb 19, 2018
    Great article.  I appreciate your attention to this subject and I learned a lot ignition training
  11. mobile review | Feb 18, 2018
    I feel like I’m often looking for interesting things to read about a variety of niches, but I manage to include your blog among my reads every day because you have compelling entries that I look forward to.  Here’s hoping there’s a lot more amazing material coming! mobile review
  12. Vikki Rai | Feb 16, 2018
    Welcome to Beirut Escorts Services. Here you can discover women of perfection who delight in fulfilling your desires. You could call this place heaven! Our high class Beirut escorts agency is synonymous for providing the most stunning and sensual of Beirut escorts. More than a decade of experience means that we attract the very best escorts in Beirut.
  13. mohan | Feb 15, 2018
    Replace website address above with the URL of the web site, and your link text with the text you'd like people to click on in your post. For example: Please visit the [link:]FQXi web site[/link]
  14. newr | Feb 15, 2018
    i really like that background wallpaper i have an office of [aadhar card][1] enrollment i will use that same background on our office wallpaper.  [1]:
  15. ajit | Feb 15, 2018
    Replace website address above with the URL of the web site, and your link text with the text you'd like people to click on in your post. For example: Please visit the []FQXi web site[/link]
  16. Liza Swan | Feb 10, 2018
    Most of the time you may never want to have the great fun at all. The great pride with which you shall always carry out the best things is quite appreciable.  Escort in Gurgaon Call Girl in Gurgaon Escort in Gurgaon Call Girl in Gurgaon
  17. | Feb 06, 2018
    I  real   pleased  to find this  site on bing, just what I was looking  for : D  too   saved to bookmarks .
  18. Franck | Feb 03, 2018
    It ended up being Very useful to me and I am certain to every one of the pundits here!  Hero Instinct
  19. ronijames | Jan 23, 2018
    I surely didn’t understand that. Learnt a thing new today! Thanks for that. valentine’s day 2018
  20. ALI | Jan 23, 2018

    samsung galaxy s8 singapore

     And I hope that other readers will also experience how I feel after reading your article. I feel very grateful that I read this. It is very helpful and very informative and I really learned a lot from it.

  21. ronijames | Jan 22, 2018
    If your real friends know you as your nickname, use that nickname as your first name online. When you first friend someone, focus on making a personal comment that weaves connection. valentine week list 2018
  22. Riya | Jan 19, 2018
    This article is very great, its content is the most unique and its website design is also very good. Udaipur Escorts Jaipur Escorts Amritsar Escorts Jaipur Escorts
  23. ali | Jan 18, 2018

    pr for horse ranches

    That I like it very much, and I am looking forward to Hearing from your next..

  24. Petra | Jan 17, 2018

    I really like your website and specially this post and that's the reason I am commenting here. It inspired me alot and I am bookmarking your website for future read. industrial cleaning services melbourne - brighten serv

  25. Bliss Auto Parts | Jan 17, 2018

    Its Awesome!

    <a>used car parts online</a>

  26. maman | Jan 15, 2018
  27. ali | Jan 11, 2018

    new york pr firms

    I definitely enjoying every little bit of it. It is a great website and nice share. I want to thank you. 

  28. lebanonescorts | Jan 09, 2018
    I found cool stuff here keep it up. Thanks for this article. Nice Information! <a href=></a>
  29. escortsinbeirut | Jan 09, 2018

    Thanks for this information!

  30. Christophey | Jan 09, 2018

    This is  helpful info.  Everything is very interesting to learn and easy to understood. Thank you for sharing

    Alluraderm Eye Serum

    allura derm

    Allura Derm

    alluraderm wrinkle cream

    allura serum

  31. fauzy | Jan 04, 2018

    The information you have posted is very useful. The sites you have referred was good. Thanks for sharing

    <a href="">Obat Gendang telinga bolong</a>
    <a href="">Walatra brain nutrition</a>
    <a href="">Cara pengobatan aneurisma otak</a>
    <a href="">Obat iritasi lambung</a>

  32. VILIKN | Jan 03, 2018

    Really amazing.i really like the article.

    ZetaClear Nail Fungus


    nail fungus cream

  33. Alison | Jan 01, 2018

    Thank you very much for sharing such a good content. You have done a great job. one solar reviews

  34. cary | Dec 19, 2017
    Thank you very much for sharing this very useful information, I am very happy to have found this information that I have been looking forgodaddy hosting 1$ per month
  35. nấm linh chi | Dec 18, 2017
    Xét cửa hàng nấm linh chi đỏ tại Cao Lãnh về mặt khoa học cửa hàng nấm linh chi đỏ tại Biên Hòa nấm linh chi cửa hàng nấm linh chi đỏ tại Bảo Lộc thuộc họ nấm lim cửa hàng nấm linh chi đỏ tại Nha Trang, được xếp vào mục đầu của cửa hàng nấm linh chi đỏ tại Tam Kỳ các vị thuốc quý cửa hàng nấm linh chi đỏ tại Cam Ranh như nhân sâm, yến sào cửa hàng nấm linh chi đỏ tại Sầm Sơn, nhung hưu, linh chi cửa hàng nấm linh chi đỏ tại Tam Điệp, đông trùng thảo,…Ngày nay khoa học cũng đã cửa hàng nấm linh chi đỏ tại Rạch Giá chứng minh nấm linh chi là loại thuốc hiếm có nhiều tác dụng cửa hàng nấm linh chi đỏ tại Buôn Ma Thuột có ích đang được nghiên cứu kỹ lưỡng hơn.
  36. Grace | Dec 15, 2017
  37. Nazam | Dec 14, 2017
    This post gives truly quality information. I’m definitely going to look into it. Really very useful tips are provided here. Thank you so much. Keep up the good works. udaipur escorts service
  38. Pengobatan Kifosis | Dec 13, 2017
  39. Arnold | Dec 11, 2017
    A debt of gratitude is in order for another awesome post. Where else would anybody be able to get that kind of information in such a perfect method for composing?  holm law group san diego 
  40. Arnold | Dec 10, 2017
    I truly like you're composing style, awesome data, thankyou for posting.  holm law group san diego 
  41. Nitya | Dec 05, 2017
    Thanks for providing recent updates regarding the concern. I look forward to reading more. Thank you very much for this post.Goa Call Girl
  42. sonia | Dec 04, 2017
    This substance is composed extremely well. Your utilization of organizing when mentioning your focuses makes your objective facts clear and straightforward. Much obliged to you.  we buy houses
  43. Nitya | Dec 04, 2017
    Thanks for providing recent updates regarding the concern. I look forward to reading more. Thank you very much for this post. Escorts in Goa
  44. Cara Menghilangkan Fibroadenoma Mammae | Nov 29, 2017
  45. sSSS | Nov 26, 2017
    Great article with excellent idea!Thank you for such a valuable article. I really appreciate for this great information.. The Coconut Oil Secret
  46. Cara Menghilangkan Lemak Pada Hati | Nov 25, 2017
    <a href="">Cara Menghilangkan Lemak Pada Hati</a>
  47. sonia | Nov 24, 2017
    It is basic that we read blog entry deliberately. I am as of now done it and find this post is truly stunning.  Get more followers on facebook
  48. kim | Nov 22, 2017
    Thankyou for this wondrous post, I am happy I watched this site on hurray.  20 Questions
  49. Absyar | Nov 20, 2017
    Punya jual kursi sofa bandung yang sempit bisa jadi tantangan tersendiri saat menatanya agar tetap nyaman. Terlebih lagi jika sofa minimalis bandung murah terbilang banyak dan aktivitas terpusat di situ. Namun jual sofa minimalis di bandung bukan jadi penghalang untuk mendapatkan ruang keluarga nyaman. Asal tahu triknya, sofa ruang tamu murah bandung berukuran kecil bisa tetap jadi tempat favorit seluruh keluarga. Yuk, simak tipsnya dari harga sofa bandung murah, desainer interior Naif Furniture.Tidak ada salahnya mengeluarkan pembuatan kitchen set di bandung lebih banyak untuk beberapa furnitur yang memiliki dua hingga tiga fungsi. pemesanan kitchen set di bandung menyarankan untuk menempatkan sofa yang juga bisa jadi tempat tidur, beli kitchen set di bandung yang bagian atasnya bisa menjadi baki atau meja dengan fungsi penyimpanan di bawahnya. coba aja sambal roa asli manado disini ada lempok durian pontianak yang terkenal. cek juga ada daftar harga kitchen set di bandung
  50. rashmi | Nov 13, 2017
    Thank you very much for sharing this very useful information, I am very happy to have found this information that I have been looking for this long Call Girls Bangalore Call Girl in Goa Escorts in trinity circle vasco da gama escorts Call Girls Delhi

    Leave a comment


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