The Royal Aircraft Establishment at Bedford

Web Links Relevant to RAE Bedford

This page lists links to websites of relevance to Bedford’s aeronautical heritage.

Airfields of Great Britain Conservation Trust
An airfield preservation and protection organisation.

The Airfield Information Exchange
The Forum for anyone interested in following military airfield history.

306th Bombardment Group Museum
A history of Thurleigh airfield in WW2 is on display at the 306th Bombardment Group Museum located on Thurleigh airfield.

Boscombe Down Aviation Collection (BDAC)
This collection, now at Old Sarum Airfield near Salisbury, Wiltshire, houses many aircraft from Boscombe Down. Bedford’s aircraft were transferred to Boscombe Down in March 1994 when Thurleigh airfield closed.

Martlesham Heath Aviation Society
Martlesham Heath (Suffolk), was home to BLEU before it relocated to Bedford in 1957.

National Aerospace Library
Part of the Royal Aeronautical Society and located at Farnborough, Hants.

Defford Airfield Heritage Group
Defford and Pershore (both in Worcestershire) were bases for radar flying trials, before the Radar Flight Trials Unit relocated its aircraft to Bedford in 1976-77.

Several other Bedfordshire aviation organisations are of interest:

The Shuttleworth Collection
Shuttleworth (Old Warden) Aerodrome, Nr. Biggleswade Bedfordshire

The Aircraft Research Association (ARA)
The Aircraft Research Association (ARA) was established in Bedford in 1952 as an industry collective, and is still operating wind tunnels today.

Cranfield University
Cranfield University was founded in 1946 as the College of Aeronautics as a component of the post-WW2 grand plan for UK aeronautics, of which RAE Bedford was also a part. Several Bedford aircraft were modified at Cranfield to suit research needs.

The Airship Heritage Trust (AHT)
Airship Heritage Trust (AHT) preserves the history of airships at Cardington near Bedford, for a short while (1980s) part of RAE Bedford.

 A number of research aircraft formerly operated at RAE Bedford have been preserved in museums around the UK:

RAF Museum, Cosford
Home to several research aircraft operated at Bedford. The ‘Test Flight’ display includes five ex-Bedford aircraft: Fairey FD2 (WG777), Short SB5 (WG768), English Electric P1A (WG760), Hunting H126 Jet Flap (XN714) and Avro 707C (WZ744) – as well as the Bristol 188, a TSR2, the prototype Meteor (DG202), and the ACT Jaguar (XX765). Vickers Varsity (WL679) is in the Transport hangar (Hangar 1).

IWM Duxford
The Imperial War Museum, near Cambridge.

Fleet Air Arm Museum Yeovilton (Somerset)
Home to HP115, research aircraft, based at Bedford 1961-1974

Science Museum, London
Home to the Short SC1 Aircraft XG900. The Short SC1 was the first British fixed-wing vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft. The Museum also houses Hawker P.1127, XP831. This is the first prototype VSTOL aircraft which achieved vertical take-off on 21st October, 1960.

Ulster Folk and Transport Museum, Cultra, Northern Ireland, near Belfast
The second Short SC1 (XG905) can be seen at the Flight Experience exhibit at the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum. Both SC1 aircraft were formerly based at Bedford.

Brooklands Museum
Home to Hawker P1127, XP984

Canberra WK163
Canberra WK163 is currently preserved at RAF St Mawgan.

Boulton Paul P111A VT935
The Midland Air Museum is situated on the North side of Coventry airport.


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85 Farnborough Road
Hampshire GU14 6TF

Tel: 01252 375050
(Office manned Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, Sundays & Bank Holiday Mondays)

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