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

Royal Aircraft Factory Aerial Target under construction at Farnborough, 1917 or 1918

Royal Aircraft Factory Aerial Target under construction at Farnborough, 1917 or 1918

by User Not Found | 10 Nov, 2015

369 comments

Leave a comment
  1. buzz | Aug 23, 2018
    buzzmytech
       
  2. buzz | Aug 23, 2018
  3. kasdj | Aug 23, 2018
    EPISCOIN is Digital Cash You Can Spend Anywhere Use epis coin to make instant, private payments online or in-store using our secure open-source platform hosted by thousands of users around the world.
  4. devshopwe | Aug 23, 2018
    Devshope Biggest Online Shop In India - Buy mobiles, laptops, cameras, books, watches, apparel, shoes and e-Gift Cards. Free Shipping & Cash on Delivery Available
  5. eskom | Aug 23, 2018
    eskom investments powering your the world.Eskom generates approximately 95% of the electricity used in South Africa and approximately 45% of the electricity used in Africa. Eskom generates, transmits and distributes electricity to industrial, mining, commercial, agricultural and residential customers and redistributors
  6. code | Aug 23, 2018
    CodeAdjust is a leading web development company in India. Our highly skilled, zealous and talented technicians, developers for software development have helped thousands of small business owners meet their technical needs in their business. VPN Service Provider
  7. judi | Jul 12, 2018
  8. anamika | Jun 29, 2018
  9. arief | Mar 28, 2018
  10. Judi BandarQ Ceme | Mar 25, 2018
  11. antikalah | Feb 26, 2018
    *(Antikalah)**(Sakongchips)*mau menang banyak bermain judi online silakan anda baca - baca nih artikel nya di atas kaka , di sana da di jelaskan cara licik bermain judi online 
  12. antikalah | Feb 26, 2018
    http://sakongchips.com/cara-hack-bandarq-rahasia-membobol/http://sakongchips.com/http://www.antikalah.net/2018/01/link-retas-domino99-cara-menang-main.htmlhttp://www.antikalah.net/
  13. SARRDA | Feb 16, 2018
    I wanted to thank you for this excellent read!! I definitely loved every little bit of it. I have you bookmarked your site to check out the new stuff you post. seo packages
  14. InformasiJudiBola | Jan 23, 2018
  15. informasi judi online | Jan 09, 2018
  16. zaud | Nov 27, 2017

    A debt of gratitude is in order for imparting this quality data to us. I truly delighted in perusing. Will without a doubt going to impart this URL to my companions.  jasa website bandung

  17. james jack | Nov 25, 2017
    The worst part of it was that the software only worked intermittently and the data was not accurate. You obviously canot confront anyone about what you have discovered if the information is not right. grand limousine
  18. james jack | Nov 25, 2017
    Regular visits listed here are the easiest method to appreciate your energy, which is why why I am going to the website everyday, searching for new, interesting info. Many, thank you! grand limousine
  19. idnsakong | Nov 14, 2017
  20. idnsakong | Nov 14, 2017
  21. james jack | Oct 30, 2017
    Within this webpage, you'll see the page, you need to understand this data. ICO LIST
  22. kogi | Oct 20, 2017
  23. james jack | Oct 15, 2017
    This is also a very good post which I really enjoyed reading. It is not every day that I have the possibility to see something like this..  Cake Delivery in Dhanbad
  24. jame sjack | Oct 14, 2017
    I am interested in such topics so I will address       page where it is cool described. Studio di ingegneria ferrara
  25. Tamasya Indo | Oct 09, 2017
  26. dadsasda | Oct 05, 2017
    has chenged the business of DohaSooq (link is external) & Nemmadi
  27. Pusat Info Indonesia | Sep 23, 2017
  28. Pusat Info Online | Sep 21, 2017
  29. rab | Sep 11, 2017
  30. hulu | Sep 10, 2017
  31. feebiara061@gmail.com | Sep 06, 2017
    It's nice to finally have all the helpful resources in one post! Thank you so much for sharing it! legalsteroidsin2017
  32. Piya | Aug 31, 2017
    Hello there! I just want to offer you a big thumbs up for your great info you have right here on this post. I'll be coming back to your web site for more soon. Fly Gps Apk Download Download Fly Gps Apk
  33. agen judi | Aug 30, 2017
    <a href="http://http://judibandarqsakong.com/bandarq-agen-sakong-judi-aduq-capsa-bandar-poker-bddomino/" rel="nofollow">Agen Sakong dan BandarQ</a>
  34. bandar757 | Aug 28, 2017
  35. balvinder singh | Aug 28, 2017
  36. jennytyo | Aug 22, 2017
  37. Jneny Tyo | Aug 17, 2017
  38. Sari Liana | Aug 16, 2017
  39. Finally | Aug 14, 2017
  40. bip | Aug 14, 2017
    Best HGH Boosters
  41. Lok | Aug 14, 2017
    fitnesstopfives.com
  42. Larry | Aug 14, 2017
    fitnesstopfives.com
  43. sachin | Aug 14, 2017
  44. Fransisca | Aug 13, 2017
  45. jay | Aug 11, 2017
  46. inicasino | Aug 07, 2017
    <b><a href="http://berbagi.logdown.com/posts/2108115-bandar757-agen-sakong-judi-bandarq-domino99-bandar-Poker-online-terpercaya/" rel="nofollow">BANDAR757 Agen Sakong Judi BandarQ Domino99 Bandar Poker Online Terpercaya</a></b>
  47. BANDAR757 Agen Sakong Judi BandarQ Domino99 Bandar Poker Online Terpercaya | Aug 07, 2017
  48. jaun | Aug 05, 2017
    If there is one thing that could bear the title of women’s best friend in the world of steroids, sports and workout, it is most definitely Anavar. Very mild in nature, if used correctly, Anavar could provide multiple benefits to women without any side-effects included. Many anabolic steroids can be harmful to women and even trigger virilization. Although virilization symptoms can occur, Anavar turns the odds to your favor.
  49. jane | Aug 05, 2017
    You always hear about the best diet pills that will help you lose weight fast without affecting your body. But not all supplements are as effective as they claim to be. So if you are looking for effective fat burners (or) diet pills then you should read this article.
  50. ariine | Aug 05, 2017
    You always hear about the best diet pills that will help you lose weight fast without affecting your body. But not all supplements are as effective as they claim to be. So if you are looking for effective fat burners (or) diet pills then you should read this article.

    Leave a comment



    Credits/footnotes:

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