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Rolls Royce – Engines get their wings

In 1927 Rolls-Royce began to share Hucknall Aerodrome with the RAF. From then until 2008 some of the world’s most important and best-selling aero-engines were tested there. Engines that fly to sunny holidays, engines that fly straight up and engines that won a war.

The Merlin Engine: The most important Rolls-Royce engine of the Second World War received its test flights here at Hucknall. It was fitted to RAF Hurricanes, Lancaster Bombers, the North American P-51 Mustang, and the most iconic fighter of all, the Supermarine Spitfire.

The Whittle Jet Engine: In 1942 Rolls-Royce took over the development of the jet engine designed by its inventor Sir Frank Whittle. They mounted it in a Vickers Wellington and flew it from Hucknall. The first ever flying ‘test bed’ for a jet. This meant that it could be tested in the air without the plane relying on the jet if there were problems.

The Flying Bedstead: The world’s first successful test of a vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft was held at Hucknall in 1953.

The RB211, world leading jetliner engine: The last test flight for a Rolls-Royce engine at Hucknall was for the RB211, in 1971. The engine was so successful commercially that Rolls-Royce became one of the top 3 aero-engine producers in the world. Rolls-Royce kept a ground-based test bed at Hucknall until 2008.