The following document is of unknown origin, although the facts are believed to be correct. It was written in about 1958, covering the period from World War II.

The Naval Air Development center (NADEVCEN), Johnsville, Pennsylvania, was established after World War II to meet a growing need for research and development in the field of naval aviation. In 1944, the Navy acquired the Brewster Aircraft Corporation which was located on approximately 370 acres of fairly level farmland in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, about midway between Philadelphia and Trenton, New Jersey. The Brewster facilities consisted of producticn shops and administration spaces covering over a million square feet and the adjoining airfield and hangar spaces. The Navy designated the plant the Naval Air Modification Unit (NAMU), a branch of the Naval Air Material Center (NAMC), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The task assigned to NAMU involved quantity conversion and modification of newly produced aircraft prior to delivery to the fleet for combat use.

With the capitulation of the axis powers, the need for NAMU vanished. The growing need for a centralized research and development activity resulted in the redesignation of NAMU, effective 1 August 1947, as the U. S. Naval Air Development Station (NADS), an independent activity under the management control of the Bureau of Aeronautics. Activities from other parts of the country were transferred to NADS and expansion of the NADS reached a significant juncture by 1 August 1949. At this time the Station was reorganized along more functional lines to make it a coordinated research and development activity, known since then as the U. S. Naval Air Development Center (NADEVCEN). The mission of the NADEVCEN was expanded to include additional developmental functions with more equipment, space and personnel.

The three laboratories originally comprising the NADEVCEN were the Pilotless Aircraft Development Laboratory (PADL), the Aeronautical Electronic ant Electrical Laboratory (AEEL), and the Aircraft Armament Laboratory (AAL). These labcratories functioned in the research and development fields of pilotless aircraft, electronic systems and components and aviation armament. The supporting activities included the Administration, Industrial Relations, Security, Medical, Public Works, Operations, and Supply and Fiscal Departments.

PADL was the pioneer activity at the NADEVCEN, formed by transferring personnel from the Engineering Department and the Shops Department of the disestablished NAMU. It functioned in the design and development of target drones and pilotless aircraft with the shops providing fabrication services for other Center laboratories. The mission of PADL was expanded and it became known as the Engineering and Development Services Department (EDSD). The tasks assigned were those which were not amenable to development within the aviation industry involving special aircraft configurations. This laboratory no longer provides shop facilities for the Center which resulted in it being renamed the Engineering Development Department (EDD), with sufficiently broad mission to allow for wide latitude in experimental development of ground and airborne instrumentation and control systems.

The Radio-Radar Laboratory and Quality Control Group from NAMC formed the nucleus of the AEEL. This was augmented by the transfer of the Naval Air Magnetics Laboratory from Lakehurst, New Jersey, the Naval Research Laboratory Field Station Group from Boston, Massachusetts, ant the Aeronautical Electrical Section from the Naval Research Laboratory, Washington, D.C. This was the largest laboratory of the Center, occupying approximately 200,000 square feet of laboratory and office area. Its mission was that of assuring that naval aircraft had adequate and effective electronic and electrical systems and components, and test equipments. Today the laboratory conducts research and analyses in heat transfer studies, printed circuity, miniaturization, modular design and reliability of electronic and electrical components and systems.

The AAL was established as the Armament Research and Development Laboratory and was unique to the NAMU because its beginning was not predicated upon the transfer of any one particular group. This laboratory performed modification development and improvement in aircraft armament. To accent the development function, its mission was changed and it was redesignated the Aviation Armament Laboratory. Its mission wa6 to improve armament systems and components to fulfill the operational requirement for carrying heavier stores, larger guns, greater variety of weapons and special search and tracking equipments required for all weather operation of naval aircraft.

In July 1950, the Aeronautical Computer Laboratory (ACL), was added, first as a small engineering team, and later as a laboratory using the TYPHOON Computer. Typhoon was the world's largest analog computer and was used to make theoretical studies and analyses of missile flight and performance. The addition of an International Business Machine Corporation Magnetic Drum Electronic Data Processing Machine (IBM 650), provided digital problem-solving techniques. Parts of the TYPHOON have been modified and modernized, adding GALE A and B analog computers to provide a large, versatile analog facility. The ACL cooperates with other Center activities by using this modernized computer complex for closed and open loop simulations of flight problems. These problems have involved human acceleration in experimental aircraft and space vehicles, anti-submarine warfare, design of missile nose cones and many others.

The Aviation Medical Acceleration Laboratory (AMAL), became a part of the Center on 17 June 1952 when the world's largest human centrifuge was dedicated. This laboratory was added to conduct research in fields of medicine as it applies to aviation. More recently it has become involved and conducts research in the fields of space medicine and a dynamic flight simulation studies involving the X-15 research aircraft.

The Aeronautical Instruments Laboratory (AIL), and the Aeronautical Photographic Experimental Laboratory (APEL), were transferred to Johnsville in December 1953 from the Naval Air Material Center, Philadelphia. The Instruments Laboratory functions in research, development and test areas of aircraft, flight and engine instruments, automatic control and navigational equipments to provide the latest and best means of meeting varied combat or defense conditions. Current projects include development and test of helicopter automatic controls, of pilots dead reckoning position indicator and experimental instrument panels for jet aircraft. The Photographic Laboratory conducts research in the development of aerial and airborne photographic equipments and auxiliary components. A recent project involved miniaturization of optics used in photographic systems for future aircraft ensuring complete dependability and mission accomplishment in photographic reconnaissance.

The Air Warfare Research Department (AWRD), was established on 1 June 1955 by separation of the Systems Engineering Division of the ACL. This Division originally consisted of thirteen members. The complement was gradually increased until August 1958 when personnel from Armament Analysis Division of AAL were assigned bringing the total to fifty-eight scientists and engineers. The AWRD conducts long range studies to indicate appropriate paths for future research and development, new and improved concepts for air warfare, and improvement of weapons systems, tactics and strategy.

In September 1958, anti-submarine warfare functions were re-aligned in a new Anti-Submarine Warfare Laboratcry (ASWL), and the old Aeronautical Electronics and Electrical Laboratory was reorganized. Also at this time, the Aviation Armament Laboratory was disestablished. The new ASWL conducts research, development and design analyses to provide the fleet with systems and devices for detecting and destroying enemy underwater targets.

In the eight laboratories and the Naval Air Station there are approximately 1670 civilian employees and approximately 470 officers and enlisted personnel. The Naval Air Station, Johnsville, Pennsylvania, is under a Commanding Officer and is charged with the responsibility of maintaining and operating aircraft assigned to the Center and utilized in development work by the eight laboratories. It provides support through the Administration, Industrial relations, Medical, Dental, Security, Operations, Public Works and Supply and Fiscal Departments. The entire Center now occupies approximately 752 acres with an estimated plant value of $30 million.

Return to the NAWC Documents page
Return to the NAWC Homepage