View Full Version : What is this room?

Richard Flagg
03-12-2008, 22:39
At one of the hangars (Building 4) at Newton, in one of the annexes at the sdie of it there was a room full of what looked like generators, photos below.

They in the annexe you can see at the side of this hangar.

This is the room

Are they generators? What is this room used for?

03-12-2008, 22:46
Look like compressors.

03-12-2008, 22:59
Richard: There are some pics of this kit in Tim O'Brien's new book, together with a pic of an air filtration unit (pages 106 & 107). In the book Tim says that he checked with the manufacturer and the units are CompAir Reavell SAT7 high pressure air compressors. Given that this hangar was where all the missile training was carried out, I suggest that the bank of compressors fed high pressure air into the air filtration unit where it was cleaned so that the missile operating equipment could be fed with high pressure pure air as part of the practical training courses.

How about that for starters?


Richard Flagg
03-12-2008, 23:25
Guys thanks for the info.

Bill, I got the book on Saturday at Newton, met Tim "TOB" there. I had completely missed that page in there! Thanks

Peter Kirk
03-12-2008, 23:36
REF - you mean you don't look at the pictures first?

Richard Flagg
03-12-2008, 23:37
That depends what the picture is of!!!

04-12-2008, 09:02
I think that Newton taught Red Top missile at some point. The Red Top A/A missile carried mainly on the Lightning but also some other types, had an infrared detector which was cooled by a 'mini-cooler'.

The 'mini-cooler consisted of a very small bore capilliary tube wound in a helix. The tube was finned to increase the surface area. As I recall it was about an inch (25mm) long and .25 inches (6mm) in diameter and fitted snugly into a double walled tempered glass cylinder (Dewar flask).

The 'mini cooler' was fed by a very high pressure air supply - at around 3600 psi. - from a cylinder carried in the aircraft. To prevent blockage of the capilliary tube the air had to be extra-ordinarily clean and was known as Pure Air. The supply was, on operational stations, derived from Reavell multi-stage compressors located in the Missile Maintenance Section and used to fill the aircraft cylinders referred to as Pure Air Bottles.

Once the air started flowing through the capilliary it exited a minute orifice at the end into the double walled flask then vented to atmosphere. The air had to flow around the fins of the tube on the way out.

Due to the drop in pressure as the air exited the orifice there was a cooling effect and and the very cold air would cool the capilliary. Within a minute or so the mini-cooler would 'strike'. This refererred to the point at which the temperature at the orifice became so cold that liquid air was formed and the cooler would visibly fill about a third full of liquid with air bubbling through it.

This very low temperature was used to cool the infrared detector which enable the missile to 'see' a target at long range enabling a 'lock-on' prior to firing. Modern missiles, such as Sidewinder AIM 9 use a one-shot Argon gas cylinder usually housed in the missle shoe to achiever the same result.

I assume that the Newton installation was used to produce Pure Air. Reavell a company specialising in compressors supplied the RAF's equipment which had to be capable of a final output of 3500 psi and very high purity.

The pipework on the high pressure side of the compressors was tested to around 6000 psi and made from Tungum and was worth quite a bit on the scrap market!

Here endeth the lesson :D


04-12-2008, 09:32
This thread has quickly pulled together some very interesting information. We all rush around taking photos of the outside of buildings, but this shows how important it is to get inside buildings (if we can, and with permission, obviously) so that we can see how the floorspace was used. Also, this thread shows how ancilliary equipment was required to support the primary task carried out inside the building, another facet of the use of airfield buildings that does tend to be lost sight of.

Richard Flagg
04-12-2008, 12:05
PTE - Thanks alot for the reply, that was a good lesson - thanks!

JCB - I couldn't agree more with what you have said, it really is worth, where possible, photographing the inside of these buildings as you never know what you'll find. And more importantly, what this are used for. I've really learnt something on this thread, and I am sure others have too.