Ordnance Aerophysics Laboratory

By: J. Elwood Arnold

Type: General Entry

Published: December 1, 1995

The Ordnance Aerophysics Laboratory near Daingerfield in East Texas, known as the Daingerfield Facility, operated from April 1945 through December 1968 and had a maximum of 373 physicists, scientists, engineers, technicians, and other employees. During that time, thousands of supersonic aerodynamic and ram jet engine tests were performed for all of the Defense Department's United States contractors doing developmental supersonic aeroplane, guided missile, and jet engine work for the U.S. Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Army. Testing was also performed for military contractors from Australia, Canada, and England; for the Department of Commerce; and for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. OAL was part of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory's Supersonic Guided Missile Program, called Bumble Bee. It was located in the Lone Star Steel Company's Plant Site, nine miles south of Daingerfield, and was owned by the U.S. Navy's Bureau of Ordnance. It was operated under contract with the Consolidated Vultee Aircraft Corporation (later General Dynamics) and for a time was the Daingerfield Division of General Dynamics. The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory was the technical director. The supersonic wind tunnel, for years the largest in the world, had a test section size of 19 by 27½ inches and speeds of Mach 1.25 through 2.75. Scale models of supersonic aircraft, guided missiles, and components were tested and aerodynamic data recorded for use by the design engineers. Wind tunnel operations started in November 1945 and ended in November 1957.

The supersonic jet engine operations originally included sea level test cells 1 and 2, for engines up to 24 inches in diameter in air streams up to Mach 2. A temporary test cell, 3, was set up in the open, using the blast furnace blower warm-up pipe, for testing 18-inch diameter engines. These tests were started in May 1945. Later an altitude test cell, 4, was placed in operation. Engines of up to 48 inches in diameter were tested under simulated altitude conditions using steam-jet ejectors with barometric condensers and three blowers. This eliminated the noises heard around the countryside with the cells 1, 2 and 3. A larger altitude test cell, 6, was later designed at OAL and constructed with additional steam-jet ejectors. Together, the altitude capability was increased, and larger engines could be tested at higher Mach numbers, some tests to Mach 8. The engine air supply could be heated to about 1800° F. Fuel under high pressure to the engine could be heated. Test techniques were developed so that data could be recorded, calculated, and plotted and/or tabulated as the test progressed. The jet engine testing alternated weekly with wind tunnel operation, then was changed to full time. All Consolidated Vultee contract operations at OAL were terminated in December 1968.

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

J. Elwood Arnold, “Ordnance Aerophysics Laboratory,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 19, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/ordnance-aerophysics-laboratory.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

December 1, 1995