The Barnes Wallis Memorial Trust






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Chairman: Gerry Carroll, Orchard House, South Duffield, Selby, YO8 6SX Telephone: 01757 638498
Charity no. 518023


After the war, Barnes Wallis used the old clubhouse of the Brooklands racetrack as his office at Weybridge. His newly established Research and Development Department probed the problems of supersonic aircraft. Once again he became preoccupied with one of the greatest obsessions of his life - the necessity for this country to create and set herself at the centre of a widespread system of world communications.

BNW: "Our central position in the World of Trade upon which our superiority at sea depends, should confer upon us a similar superiority in the air. England's position might well be described as that of the 'Clapham Junction' of the air world, for from China to Peru, from Viadivostok to Buenos Aires, from Vancouver to Cape Town, from Sydney to New York, all routes pass over or close to England".

In practical terms this meant long range and long range meant speed. Barnes Wallis turned his attention to variable geometry as a means of achieving supersonic flight with the greatest economy. For some years he had been keenly interested in wing controlled aerodynes. Early experiments under the name Wild Goose ranged in size from small hand-launched models to larger radio-controlled examples trolley-launched at 100 mph. All had slender laminar flow bodies with variable sweep wings set well back, and a swept tail fin aft. Movement about the three axes was accomplished by co-ordinated and differential degrees of wing sweepback.

But Wild Goose was essentially a military concept. Although it flew well in secret from Predannack in Cornwall, Wallis gradually moved on to the more advanced Swallow, intended as the basis for an airliner flying non-stop from Europe to Australia in a return journey time of 10 hours.

In the Swallow he used a flattened profile fuselage blending with the wing and contributing to total lift. The fin was eliminated and all control was provided by the engine pods. These were mounted in pairs towards the tips of the wings, one above and one below the aerofoil. They pivoted about all three axes, providing a constant thrust-line with variations in wing sweep, and served in place of rudder, ailerons and elevators.

The result was an aircraft of great beauty and extreme simplicity. Swallow flew in model form in the mid-fifties. Subsonic tests were made with a model of 30 foot maximum span powered by two small rockets. A supersonic model, 6 feet long attained speeds of up to Mach 2.5.

After years of development and grinding work the government killed the project.

BNW: "And so five of my team and I flew out to Langley Field but unfortunately we overdid it. We convinced the Americans too sincerely that this was a great idea and so they decided to take it up for themselves instead of paying us a grant to do it in England".

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