Between the end of the war and the beginning of the 1950's, the Naval Air Modification Unit underwent a series of changes that fragmented its technical effort. The loosely-structured but integrated NAMU was replaced by an autonomous grouping of R&D laboratories, in which control passed from the commanding officer to the laboratories and related sections of the Bureau of Aero- nautics. After the war NAMU concentrated on research and development and no longer performed aircraft "modification." Therefore the Bureau of Aeronautics changed the name from NAMU to the Naval Air Development Station (NADS), under the command of the Fourth Naval District Commandant and the managerial control of the Bureau of Aeronautics. Then, on August 1, 1949, NADS was redesiqnated the Naval Air Develooment Center (NADC).

The fragmenting of the technical effort of NADS began in December 1947, when the Bureau of Aeronautics designated distinct missions for the Station's three laboratories: Aviation Armament Laboratory, Aeronautical Electronic and Electrical Laboratory, and Pilotless Aircraft Development Laboratory. When the Station's Central Planning Office was disbanded in February 1948, its func- tions were transferred to the various laboratories and departments. Contributing to the fragmenta- tion was the piecemeal growth of NADS, as the Bureau of Aeronautics moved several Navy R&D laboratories located along the East coast to Johnsville. In June 1948 the Naval Air Material Laboratory in Philadelphia was disbanded and its functions were reassigned to Johnsville.

Editors Note - This is an error. The Naval Air Material Laboratory was not moved to NADC until 1971. A second floor was added to "building 2" at NADC to accomodate NAML.

In August the Aeronautical Electrical Section was transferred from the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) to Johnsville, and in the spring of 1949 the NRL Field Station, Boston, under Dr. Harry Krutter, moved to NADS, as did the Special Project Unit CAST. The mission of NADS was also expanded to include the newly-formed Aviation Medical Acceleration Laboratory. (18)

The personnel profile changed significantly in the 1940's and 1950's. The change from modi- fication to R&D required the retraining of many workers. On August 1, 1947, the full-time profes- sional staff stood at 902, but one year later slipped to 532. Due to an extensive recruiting effort and the transfer of laboratories to NADC, the Center's staff grew to 1002 by June 1949. (19) Johnsville's professional staff increased since a different mix of talents were required for R&D. The 1950's saw a slow, steady growth in personnel, and by 1958 the civilian complement was 1670 and the military complement was 470.

The physical resources of the Center grew rapidly in the early 1950's. Several new facilities were constructed at costs not approached again until the 1960's. (20) The extent of these expenses are evident in the table below.

NADC FacilityFiscal YearAmount
(thousands of dollars)
Human Centrifuge19492,381
Development and Test Facilities for AEEL, AAL, ADL19512,600
Runway Extension for Jet Operations19521,667
Computer Room Construction1953232

During the 1950's, NADC operated not as a unified Center, but as a collection of independent laboratories. Many of the laboratories had their own support services, including technical writing staffs and libraries. Relatively independent of Center control, the laboratories or parts thereof developed direct connections with the related technical sections of the Bureau of Aeronautics, or, in the case of the Aviation Medical Acceleration Laboratory, of the Bureau of Medicine. The Bureau- Center relationship was a "parent-child" one, and what follows is an account of these children. (21)

Aeronautical Computer Laboratory (ACL)

Computer work began in 1947-1948 when the Center purchased two new Reeves Instrument analog computers. These "REAC" units were the outcome of the Navy's "winds" program, which began in 1946 to develop a series of computers. The Reeves' project "Cyclone" employed available technology to construct a computer as soon as possible, while R.C.A. carried out Project "Typhoon" at its Laboratories in Princeton, N.J., to develop the ultimate computer using state-of-the-art technology

After designing and building the Typhoon computer, R.C.A. reconsidered its connection to the Navy and decided to rid itself of Typhoon. In August 1950, Harold Tremblay, an NADC electrical engineer who had worked with the Reeves firm on REAC, and George Caffrey began training on the Typhoon in preparation for its move to NADC. A hybrid analog-digital machine, Typhoon con- sisted of an F-shaped complex of some 50,000 tubes that occupied floor space of nearly 10,000 square feet. (22) It was not until the spring of 1952 that the transfer of Typhoon to NADC was completed.

NADC organized a Computer Unit in July 1950 and soon reorganized it as the Analytical and Computer Department (ACD). The civilian supervisor of the ACD was Professor William H. Boghosian, from the Moore School of Electrical Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania. The ACD's two divisions provided a large-scale analog computer facility for Department of Defense use. The ACD's Systems Engineering Division conducted long-range research studies of the effectiveness of air weapons systems and the vulnerability of aircraft. In June 1955, the Division was removed from the ACD and became the core of the Air Warfare Research Department (AWRDJ, which developed many advanced weapons concepts, and carried out studies of the Fleet Ballistic Missile, the CORVUS missile, and the EAGLE missile, an early version of the Phoenix. The Computer Divi- sion carried out theoretical studies and simulations of aircraft and guided missile designs. With the departure of the Systems Division, the Computer Division became the Aeronautical Computer Laboratory. In the late 1950's the Typhoon was broken down into components called "Gales," and finally, in 1968, the Typhoon was completely dismantled. Five analogue computers replaced Typhoon and provided twice its capacity. (23)

Engineering Development and Services Department (EDSD)

The Pilotless Aircraft Development Laboratory (PADL) was the pioneer activity at the time of the establishment of NADS; its responsibilities included the design and development of pilotless air- craft and target drones. In 1950 its mission was expanded, and PADL was renamed the Engineering Development and Services Department. When its shop facilities were transferred in 1958, the EDSD became the Engineering Development Department, with a diverse mission. Through the 1950's with a staff of 400, the EDSD--known as Everybody Does Something Different--worked on ground and airborne instrumentation and control systems and other aircraft development projects.

Aeronautical Electronics and Electrical Laboratorv (AEEL)

The AEEL was the second original laboratory that comprised NADS. A shortage of technical personnel due to the demands of the Korean War and a recognition that too many organizational barriers existed within AEEL prompted an organizational streamlining of the AEEL under Technical Director Dr. Harry Krutter in 1950. To centralize control of the Laboratory's 400 personnel and six divisions--undersea warfare, control and guidance, radar, electrical, radio, and technical services-- the Program Officer's power and responsibilities were increased. Moving personnel to match project demands continued to be a difficulty that was addressed by organizational changes, as can be seen in the reorganization of the Control and Guidance Division in 1954. In January its Analysis Branch was split into the Physics and Systems Analysis Branches, but in July the two Branches were again recombined as the Analysis Branch.

Antisubmarine warfare work was a major part of the AEEL. To promote undersea warfare work, AEEL created in April 1958 two new divisions, Sonar and Special Methods. These two divi- sions formed the core of the Antisubmarine Warfare Laboratory organized in the fall of 1958.

Aircraft Armament Laboratory (AAL)

AAL was formed at Johnsville when NAMU was reorganized in 1947 as NADS. With approxi- mately 270 members it was slightly smaller than PADL and AEEL. During the Korean War AAL expanded to 340 members, and provided support for U.S. warplanes. From 1954 onward, the members of AAL conducted analytical studies of aircraft vulnerability, and mounted an effort to persuade manufacturers to be "vulnerability conscious" during the design stages of aircraft develop- ment. In 1958 the AAL was disbanded, and its divisions transferred to AWRD and the newly- formed ASWL.

Aviation Medical Acceleration Laboratory (AMAL)

Planning of a medical acceleration laboratory began in 1944. The centerpiece of the group that became AMAL was a new high-performance Human Centrifuge with a 50-foot radius. Work on the new facility at Johnsville began in June 1947, with the McKiernan-Terry Corporation of Harrison, N.J., constructing the centrifuge building under the direction of the Special Devices Center of the Office of Naval Research. On November 2, 1951, Captain J. R. Poppin, the director of AMAL, became the first human subject tested on the centrifuge. The facility's ties to the University of Pennsylvania were reinforced in July 1954, when Dr. James D. Hardy, Professor of Physiology in the School of Medicine, became Research Director of AMAL.

The centrifuge's capabilities were demonstrated through a series of experiments. In 1956 a joint Navy-Air Force study revealed that chimpanzees were able to sustain 40 G's for 6C seconds. Two years later R. Flanagan Gray of NADC set the world's record of 31.25 G's, which he sustained for five seconds in the "iron maiden," a water-filled protective apparatus, attached forty feet out the arm of the centrifuge. The combination of the human centrifuge and the Center's computer facilities, the first step in the development of dynamic flight simulation, was first used in 1957 for the X-15. Perhaps the most celebrated program of AMAL was the flight simulation training for Project Mercury astronauts. In the early 1960's, the centrifuge received its own analog computer, which is still in use. (24)

Aeronautical Instruments Laboratory (AIL) and Aeronautical Photoqraphic Experimental Laboratory (APEL)

The AIL and APEL were transferred to Johnsville in December 1953 from NAMC, in Philadel- phia, to provide more space for them. AIL grew from 92 people in 1953 to 134 in 1958, as three new branches were added: Simulation, Inertial Navigation, and Systems and Computers.

APEL provided contract monitoring and technical assistance to the Navy. One important project involving antarctic exploration, OPERATION DEEPFREEZE, required a large winterization proqram for over 200 cameras.


The growth of the NADC during the early and mid-1950's was due in large measure to the transfer of outside laboratories to the Center, as well as the rearrangement of existing labs. In January 1954, the Aeronautical Instruments Laboratory and the Aeronautical Photographic Equip- ment Laboratory were transferred to the Center from the NAMC, Philadelphia. The Analytical and Computer Group was established in 1950, and given departmental status a year later. In July 1955 the group's analytical and computer components were divided to form the Air Warfare Research Department and the Aeronautical Computer Laboratory.

The Center's labs developed a high degree of autonomy during the 1950's. The 1957 NADC App~aisal Committee, chaired by CDR H. L. Anderton (AEEL), wrote: "Presently, the primary mode of operation appears to be that each laboratory, acting in autonomous fashion, goes out and gets its own work and does its utmost to avoid Center-wide operation." (25) One result of the autonomous growth of NADC Laboratories was that many areas of "overlap and conflict" devel- oped. The Committee identified four areas in which this was a problem: study and research, in which AWRD and the Armaments Systems Division overlapped; aviation systems, in which both

EDSD and AAL worked on separate programs for target drones and towed targets; sub-systems and componets, in which airborne computer work was prosecuted by Al L and AEE L without coordina- tion; and anti-submarine warfare work (ASW) which was carried out bv manv laboratories.

An examination of the NADC personnel similarly revealed an unorganized R&D effort. Of the 454 professionals at NADC, 10 percent were involved in study and research activities, 40 percent with R&D, and 10 percent with "design, approval, test," a category of unclear meaning. The remaining 40 percent performed "routine" tasks, described by the Committee as "type test, or design work significantly lacking in engineering challenge." Organizing the number of professionals by laboratory affiliations indicated that the Target Drone division of the EDSD was the largest Center activity with 33. But the R&D work area that was actually the largest activity on Center was ASW, which had 56 professionals scattered across AEEL, AAL, AWRD, and ACL, but with no laboratory to focus the effort.

The Appraisal Committee concluded that an organizational change would benefit the Center's effectiveness, and it made a two-part proposal. First, to provide a means by which the Commanding Officer could plan and integrate Center-wide technical effort, a "technical alter ego" for the C.O. was necessary to be filled by either an officer or civilian. A line position directly under the C.O., with the title of Director of Development, was suggested. In response to the perception that more systems work should be performed by the Center (revealed by the Committee's interviews), the Director of Development would have the assistance of Ad Hoc Svstems Managers to coordinate large complex programs.

The second recommendation of the Committee concerned utilization of technical personnel: "The Center does at present suffer from an inability to handle Centerwide projects without juris- dictional battles and wounded feelings and morale." Most of the troublesome projects concerned aircraft systems development, and a possible solution would have been to set up another adminis- trative entity to coordinate this area of work. Since the number of entities reporting to the Com- mander was already unmanageable, the Committee favored a comprehensive reorganization of the Center's into five new laboratories: Study, Aeromechanics, Electronics, Medical, and Services Department. This suggestion was not followed.

An NADC Ad Hoc Committee was, however, appointed by Command Officer Emerson E. Fawkes on May 5, 1958, to study the need for the coordination of the Center's ASW efforts. The Committee, chaired by F. M. Gloeckler, concluded that the Center faced a real need for a compre- hensive ASW laboratory, and several of its recommendations were soon enacted. The AAL and AEEL had substantial ASW activities that were merged into the new Anti-Submarine Warfare Laboratory (ASWL). The remaining non-ASW activities in AAL and AEEL were mainly avionics, and the Committee recommended to merge these into a new Avionic Laboratory, never officially created. The AAL was disbanded on September 1, 1958, and its personnel combined with the ASW staff of the AEEL. The resulting ASWL had six divisions (Administration, Programs, Special Methods, Sonar, Attack Systems and Development Support), and, at the time of its establishment, had 63 projects.

NADC History 1960-1982

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