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The Aircraft Factory, Brooklands Museum

Aircraft Factory, Brooklands Museum

Brooklands and Aviation Manufacture

Many aviation firsts are also associated with Brooklands, which soon became one of Britain's first aerodromes. It attracted many aviation pioneers prior to World War I, and was also a leading aircraft design and manufacturing centre in the 20th century, producing a remarkable total of some 18,600 new aircraft of nearly 260 types between 1908 and 1987. Brooklands-based aircraft companies such as Bleriot, Hawker, Sopwith, Martinsyde, and Vickers were key players in the early years of aviation and were crucial to its early development.

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Aircraft Factory Floor

A Brief History

By the outbreak of World War One, Brooklands was becoming the largest manufacturing centre in the country, creating Vickers types and assembling a small range of Sopwith fighters. Vickers (Aviation Dept) Ltd also built 2,164 Royal Aircraft Factory S.E. 5 aircraft at Weybridge during the period of conflict.

Most inter-war activity concentrated on aircraft production however, although with dark clouds looming over Europe once again, both Hawker Engineering and Vickers-Armstrong were 100% concentrated on military designs. Gifted engineer Sydney Camm had created the iconic and hugely proficient Hawker Hurricane which flew at Brooklands for the first time in 1935 - Hawkers seemed well-equipped to meet the demands of yet another war.

Over 3,000 Hawker Hurricanes and 2,500 Vickers Wellingtons were built at the Weybridge factories and after the end of the war, much of the track and racing facilities at Brooklands were in such a poor state that the cash-strapped government sold the whole site to Vickers-Armstrong (Aircraft) Ltd for just £330,000.

Weybridge played a major role in the design and development of the world’s most successful supersonic passenger airliner, the Surrey aircraft factory being predominantly responsible for the fuselage sections from the nose to the tail, as well as the fins and rudders. The Concorde project proved to be one of the greatest collaborations between 2 separate countries and the engineers and staff at Weybridge travelled back and forth to Toulouse on a regular basis.

www.baesystems.com

Factory Floor

Aircraft Factory Floor
Vickers Wellington Mk1A
Aircraft Factory Floor
BAC TSR-2
BAC TSR-2 Cockpit Section

British Aircraft Corporation TSR-2

The British Aircraft Corporation TSR-2 is a cancelled Cold War strike and reconnaissance aircraft developed by the British Aircraft Corporation (BAC), for the Royal Air Force (RAF) in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The TSR-2 was designed around both conventional and nuclear weapons delivery: it was to penetrate well-defended frontline areas at low altitudes and very high speeds, and then attack high-value targets in rear areas. Another intended combat role was to provide high-altitude, high-speed stand-off, side-looking radar and photographic imagery and signals intelligence, aerial reconnaissance. Only one airframe flew and test flights and weight-rise during design indicated that the aircraft would be unable to meet its original stringent design specifications. The design specifications were reduced as the result of flight testing.

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Supermarine Swift

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Supermarine Swift

The Supermarine Swift is a British single-seat jet fighter aircraft that was operated by the Royal Air Force (RAF). It was developed and manufactured by Supermarine during the 1940s and 1950s. The Swift featured many of the new jet age innovations, such as a swept wing. On 26 September 1953, a Swift F.4 piloted by Commander Mike Lithgow broke the world absolute speed record, reaching a speed of 737.7 mph (1,187 km/h).

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Royal Aircraft Factory SE5
Royal Aircraft Factory SE5

Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.5

The Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.5 is a British biplane fighter aircraft of the First World War. It was developed at the Royal Aircraft Factory by a team consisting of Henry Folland, John Kenworthy and Major Frank Goodden. It was one of the fastest aircraft of the war, while being both stable and relatively manoeuvrable. According to aviation author Robert Jackson, the S.E.5 was: "the nimble fighter that has since been described as the 'Spitfire of World War One

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Sopwith Tabloid Floatplane
Sopwith Tabloid

Sopwith Tabloid

The Sopwith Tabloid and Sopwith Schneider (floatplane) were British biplanes, originally designed as sports aircraft and later adapted for military use. They were among the first successful types to be built by the Sopwith Aviation Company. The "Tabloid", so named because of its small size, caused a sensation when it made its first public appearanc

A floatplane variant was prepared in under a month and entered for the 1914 Schneider Trophy race where it was piloted by Howard Pixton. This aircraft won the competition against minimal opposition.

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Vickers Type 60 Viking IV
Vickers Type 60 Viking

Vickers Viking

The Vickers Viking was a British single-engine amphibious aircraft designed for military use shortly after World War I. Later versions of the aircraft were known as the Vickers Vulture and Vickers Vanellus.

Research on Vickers' first amphibious aircraft type began in December 1918 with tests of alternative fuselage/hull designs occurring in an experimental tank at St Albans in Hertfordshire, England. A prototype, registered G-EAOV, was a five-seat cabin biplane with a pusher propeller driven by a Rolls-Royce Falcon water-cooled V 12 engine. Sir John Alcock died taking this aircraft to the Paris exhibition on 18 December 1919, whilst trying to land at Côte d'Evrard, near Rouen, Normandy in foggy weather.

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Vickers Valiant B(K)1
Vickers Valiant

Vickers Valiant

The Valiant was Britain’s first nuclear bomber and the only Royal Air Force aircraft to drop a live nuclear weapon. It was one of three famous ‘V bombers’, alongside the Avro Vulcan and Handley Page Victor. Although the Valiant was the simplest of the three, entering service more quickly, it featured advanced powered flying controls.

This aircraft was one of 44 dual-purpose bomber/tanker variants . A transport/airliner variant, the V1000, was also designed but was cancelled when the prototype was nearly complete. The Valiant’s expected operational lifespan was cut short by metal fatigue, largely because of a change to low-level flying. This cockpit section is from the last Valiant to fly, in 1968.

Brooklands Museum Collection
Vickers Wellington Mk1A
Vickers Wellington Mk1A
Vickers Wellington Mk1A
Vickers Wellington Mk1A
Vickers Wellington Mk1A

Vickers Wellington Mk1A

The Wellington bomber was designed at Brooklands by Rex Pierson using the geodetic construction principles developed by Barnes Wallis.

The prototype first flew at Brooklands in 1936, and 11,461 Wellingtons were produced, 2,515 of these at Brooklands. Its geodetic structure was able to absorb heavy damage and its flexible design made it the only multi-engined aircraft to see service throughout World War Two.

N2980 is the only known surviving Brooklands-built Wellington and the only one to see active service during World War Two. First flown on 16th November 1939 by Vickers’ Chief Test Pilot ‘Mutt’ Summers, N2980 was first issued to 149 Squadron at RAF Mildenhall and allocated the squadron code letter ‘R’ for ‘Robert’. It took part in the infamous Heligoland Bight raid of 18th December 1939, during which over half of the force of twenty-two Wellingtons were shot down by German fighters. This disastrous mission led to the RAF abandoning daytime bombing, switching to raiding under the cover of night. On 31st December 1940, while on a training flight over Scotland with 20 Operational Training Unit at RAF Lossiemouth, N2980 developed engine trouble in a blizzard and ditched in Loch Ness. Eight of the training crew on board escaped unharmed, but the rear gunner, unfortunately, died when his parachute failed to deploy.

In 1976 the Wellington was located in the Loch by a team of American Loch Ness Monster hunters and was successfully salvaged on 21st September 1985 by the Loch Ness Wellington Association, assisted by the National Heritage Memorial Fund. Despite nearly forty-five years underwater, the aeroplane was remarkably well preserved. The navigation lights still worked when connected to a modern battery and many of the crew’s personal effects remained in the fuselage.

Brooklands Museum Collection
Hawker Siddeley P1127 XP984
Hawker Siddeley P1127 XP984

Hawker P.1127

The first un-tethered hovering flight of the P.1127 V/STOL aircraft was made by A W 'Bill' Bedford in XP831 at Dunsfold, Surrey on 19/11/1960. Two prototypes and four development aircraft were built, but only three of these now survive. An improved version, the Kestrel, first flew on 07/03/1964 with Bill Bedford, and the first production Harrier, XV738, was first flown by Duncan Simpson on 28/12/1967. Nine Kestrels served with the Tripartite Evaluation Squadron in 1965 and 1 Squadron, RAF, received its first Harrier on 01/04/1969. The UK's Harrier Force was finally disbanded in 2012, although later variants are still operational in other countries today.

Built in 1963 by Hawker Siddeley Aviation at Kingston and Dunsfold, this sixth and last P.1127 became the first to feature a swept (Kestrel) wing. The first flight was made from Dunsfold by Bill Bedford on 13/02/64, with a Pegasus 5 engine, as the prototype Kestrel. On 19/03/65, with Hugh Merewether as pilot, the engine failed in a high speed dive at 28,000ft causing a fire. After a dramatic landing at RAF Thorney Island, Merewether received an OBE for gallantry. XP984 flew again on 15/10/1965 and was loaned that December to the Tripartite Evaluation Squadron for demonstrations in Germany. On 25/03/1966 Bill Bedford made XP984’s first flight with the new ‘03/1’ (Harrier) wing. Sea trials on HMS Bulwark followed from 18-20/06/1966.

Brooklands Museum Collection
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About Aircraft Park, Brooklands Museum

Brooklands Museum is a motoring and aviation museum occupying part of the former Brooklands motor-racing track in Weybridge, Surrey, England.

Formally opened in 1991, the museum is operated by the independent Brooklands Museum Trust Ltd, a private limited company (No.02109945) and a registered UK charity (No.296661); its aim is to conserve, protect and interpret the unique heritage of the Brooklands site

en.wikipedia.org