Lockheed YP-80A in the Altitude Wind Tunnel 1945
Lockheed YP-80A in the Altitude Wind Tunnel 1945

The Altitude Wind Tunnel (AWT), formerly at the Glenn Research Center, was unrivaled in its capability to test full-scale engines in simulated altitude conditions. Although designed in the early 1940s to study piston engines, the facility was used from its first runs in February 1944 to support new turbojet technology. The Cleveland laboratory and the AWT produced a succession of turbojet advancements that resulted in a surge of thrust capabilities in the late 1940s and early 1950s. The AWT was dismantled in 2008.

Lockheed's YP80A Shooting Star was the first jet aircraft completely manufactured in the United States and the first US aircraft to fly faster than 500 mph. The Altitude Wind Tunnel was used in the spring of 1945 to study the performance of the Shooting Star's General Electric I-40 engines at high altitudes. An attempt to forecast thrust levels at altitude, based on sea-level measurements, was successful and a curve was created to predict the I-40's thrust at all altitudes. The resulting P-80 fighter and the I-40 engines went on to become great successes.

For more information about the AWT:

Image Credit: NASA

Page Last Updated: August 2nd, 2013
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