thE toP SecrEt histoRy
The 1930’s – discomfort in Europe and in the world. To Sweden it was important to quickly establish the means for a strong aerospace industry – not least to be able to build a powerful air force with combat aircraft produced in Sweden. The National Aeronautical Research Institute was created and with help from the US the low-speed tunnel 1 – LT1 – was built. It was ready in 1940 and became a central facility for the development of Swedish combat aircraft involving SAAB, the Swedish National Defense among others. The facility was top secret and well-guarded.
In the horizontal wind tunnel, SAAB and the National Defense could test models of what later became combat aircraft such as J21, J29 Tunnan, J32 Lansen, J35 Draken and JA37 Viggen. At times the gigantic rotor blades were spinning 24/7.
TO SPACE AND BEYOND
But LT1 has been used for more than the testing of prototypes of Swedish combat aircraft. One example concerns when ESA – European Space Agency – used FFA’s facilities to design Huygens, an atmospheric entry probe which was launched together with the space craft Cassini in December 1997. Some six years later Huygens landed successfully on Saturn’s moon, Titan, and relayed pictures to Earth for a couple of hours.
And surely the history of LT1 holds many stories that never will be told…
Facts: LT1 – Low-speed Tunnel 1
Low-speed tunnel means that the tunnel cannot produce supersonic wind. But we are still talking about extreme forces – LT1 is quite capable.
Later, The National Aeronautical Research Institute also constructed a high-speed tunnel, where they tested models of various missiles and of what later became JAS 39 Gripen.
Anyway. In the beginning of the new century the defense industry left LT1. Thereafter, the wind tunnel was used sporadically and mainly for non-military tests.