Study of United States Government Wind Tunnels

B-114825: Published: Apr 9, 1954. Publicly Released: Apr 9, 1954.

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The balance between the supply of existing and anticipated wind tunnel testing time and the demand for that time is a fundamental consideration in the determination of (1) whether proposed construction is justified and (2) whether the operation of individual facilities should be expanded or curtailed.

In examining supply versus demand it must be borne in mind that any new facility which represents a technological advance over those previously available will create demand by generating new ideas, techniques, and uses. Another basic principle is that proposed major facilities do not become available overnight: several years will elapse between the initial planning and the funding, constructing, and calibrating stages. Thus, urgent demand for a new facility must be and often is satisfied in an existing facility less suitable for the purpose or by other means such as flight tests and aerodynamic tracks. Supply and demand have been considered from the standpoint of facilities owned and requirements generated by the various military departments and by National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics (NACA). Privately owned facilities were considered only to the extent they are significant and are available to meet a portion of military requirements in particular classes of tunnels. Industrial demands for Government wind tunnels as reported to us by members of industry have-been used only to verify the reasonableness of the estimates submitted by the agencies; otherwise they are not taken into account in our discussions and charts because such demands are primarily of military origin and have thus been included by the military departments as part of their estimated requirements. To establish the supply of wind tunnel testing time we first obtained experience factors from the tunnel operators for fiscal years 1952 and 1953 in the various classes of tunnels grouped according to speed and size. The fiscal year 1953 supply was then assumed to be essentially the supply that will exist in fiscal years 1954, 1955, and 1956, making due allowances for (1) the number of shifts each tunnel is operated, (2) unusual conditions that may limit or restrict operations, and (3) new facilities and modified facilities that will become available during this period. Computations are based on the assumption that increased funds will be made available for the operation of facilities under construction. To establish demand, reports were received from various organizations in the Department of Defense as to actual time used in fiscal year 1953 and requirements anticipated for fiscal years 1954, 1955, and 1956, summarized according to the various classes of tunnels for which supply information was obtained. It must be understood that demand is nebulous and constantly subject to revision.

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