Accession Number:

ADA558167

Title:

Birth of U.S. Naval Aeronautics and the Navy's Aerodynamics Laboratory

Descriptive Note:

Final rept.

Corporate Author:

NAVAL SURFACE WARFARE CENTER CARDEROCK DIV BETHESDA MD HYDROMECHANICS DEPT

Personal Author(s):

Report Date:

2011-12-01

Pagination or Media Count:

22.0

Abstract:

This report describes the formation of the Navys Aerodynamics Laboratory and its pioneering contributions in naval aeronautics from 1911 to 1919. The Navy was just beginning serious interest in aviation in 1911 with the procurement of its first aircraft, a Curtiss A-1. This aircraft was technologically similar to the Wright brothers first airplane but with greater power to allow takeoff from the water using its large central float. At this time the practice of aeronautical engineering was largely a process of trial and error. While this method was successful for small aircraft like the A-l, it posed a significant impediment for development of larger more capable aircraft. Under the leadership of Rear Admiral David W. Taylor, the Navys Experimental Wind Tunnel was designed and built at the Washington Navy Yard next to the Navys Experimental Model Basin to advance the state of aeronautical engineering. The Navys new wind tunnel was the worlds largest and the centerpiece of the Navys Aerodynamics Laboratory. The laboratory, and the naval constructors who worked there under Taylor, developed and refined methods for testing scaled models of complete aircraft as well as aircraft components. These experiments provided the data needed to effectively design large aircraft and led to the success of the Navys NC flying boat. In 1919, an NC was the first airplane to fly across the Atlantic. This was an accomplishment that at the time was as amazing to the average person as landing on the moon would be fifty years later. In a decade when U.S. advancements in aeronautics were waning, the pioneering work of the Navys Aerodynamics Laboratory propelled the Navy to the forefront of aeronautics in the second decade of the 20 century. The laboratory established a foundation for the continued development of aeronautics and left a legacy that continues 100 years later.

Subject Categories:

  • Aircraft
  • Test Facilities, Equipment and Methods
  • Military Forces and Organizations

Distribution Statement:

APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE