Propeller Research Tunnel
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The Propeller Research Tunnel was built in 1927 when NACA researchers tried to correlate their data with tests conducted at Stanford University. The design was a radical change from tunnels customarily built 5 feet in diameter. The 27-foot, 8-bladed propeller was powered by two diesel submarine engines from the Navy. The 20-foot stream of air reached 110 miles per hour.
One of the great advances in aeronautics, developed in this tunnel, was the NACA cowling which increased engine effectiveness without increasing costs. Other changes developed in the Propeller Research Tunnel included moving engine nacelles to the leading edge of the wing, and improved aircraft performance with retractable landing gear.
The building was demolished in 1950 and replaced by the 8-Foot Transonic Pressure Tunnel.
[top] 11-Inch Hypersonic Tunnel
One of the most important wind tunnels conceived and developed at Langley was the 11-inch Hypersonic Tunnel, which was used in pioneering efforts in critical hypersonic aerodynamics research for the nation’s high-speed aerospace programs. Designed and managed by John V. Becker and Charles H. McLellan, the tunnel was inspired by post-war inspections of German facilities used in the development of the V-2 rocket ballistic missile.
Becker’s enthusiasm and dedication to the concept coincided with accelerated interests by the NACA and the military in hypersonic aerodynamics. Proposed as a pilot facility for hypersonic testing, the tunnel was first operational in 1947 in the building previously occupied by the Langley Propeller Research Tunnel in the East Area. Arguably, one of the most valuable lessons learned from this facility was that "blowdown" or intermittent hypersonic tunnels could be used for meaningful research with relatively low cost compared to continuous-run tunnels.
After a period of great success in fundamental hypersonic experiments, the facility and its associated pressure and vacuum tanks were moved to the West Area in 1949 and located in Building 1229. The test section of the tunnel was located on the first floor in the area previously occupied by the free-flight apparatus control room.
The Langley 11-Inch Hypersonic Tunnel contributed critical data in the development of the X-15 hypersonic research aircraft and numerous generic research projects. It remained operational until 1973 when it was dismantled and later given to Virginia Polytechnic Institute.