A Catalog of Flight Test Division Memorandum Reports
The USAF Flight Test Division was responsible for flight-testing aircraft, engines, propellers and other equipment from 1929 until the 1960s. Records of these tests were microfilmed during the early 1970s and now are stored at the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) facility in College Park, Maryland. Over 3,000 reports comprise this large records collection, which is extremely rich in content. In addition to providing conceptual, developmental, testing and operational details of specific aircraft, they also document the development of doctrine, underlying science, materials, processes, procedures, and standards.
The AEHS completed its task of cataloging engine-related USAF Engineering Division records in 2008. After three years of reflection on the value of this endeavor, it is fair to conclude that results obtained have been far more useful than anyone ever imagined. It has provided numerous academics, historians, modelers and enthusiasts with valuable material upon which to base their work.
As valuable as this earlier cataloging effort has been, the microfilmed memorandum reports from the Flight Test Division may prove to be even more useful. The Flight Test Division was responsible for flight-testing aircraft, engines, propellers and other equipment from 1929 until the 1960s. The records of these tests were microfilmed by the U.S. Air Force during the early 1970s and original paper copies destroyed, which means that only the microfilmed versions survive. These are stored at the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) facility in College Park, Maryland. Over 3,000 reports comprise this large records collection, which is extremely rich in content. In addition to providing conceptual, developmental, testing and operational details of specific aircraft, they also document the development of doctrine, underlying science, materials, processes, procedures, and standards.
Please take a few minutes to browse the catalog.
Visit http://www.enginehistory.org/narasc/rdpcf_search.php, select the Flight Test Division Memorandum Reports radio button and click Submit.
This will produce the Flight Test Division search form.
Depending on the speed of your Internet connection you might want to increase the Max Records DISPLAY OPTION to a larger number.
To browse the contents of the first ten microfilm reels, enter "F0" in the Document # box and click Search.
A results page will appear showing citations matching the requested search criteria. Please spend a moment becoming familiar with the results page, as all other results pages will have the same format. All citations will have a Document # and Title. When available Project Number/Expenditure Number (Proj/EO #), Report #, Date and Remarks may also appear. The date format is explained at the bottom of the results page.
Note: Flight Test Division microfilm Document #s take the form of Frrssss, where
F = indicates Flight Test Division microfilm
rr = two-digit reel number (this is important for ordering microfilm from NARA)
ssss = four-digit sequence number (this provides an approximate location of a given report within the reel)
Notice also a link to an Abbreviation List . This is important for decoding the abbreviations used throughout the Finding Aid.
Report titles in the catalog may not be identical to those on the report. Where appropriate and when the information was available they have been expanded to include manufacturer, model number(s), serial (or registration) number(s) and other details in a stylized and consistent fashion, with emphasis on searchable keywords.
Why is this Important?
In the past, Flight Test Division memorandum reports were only available on 16mm microfilm and there was no searchable catalog of the reports. Researchers had to visit College Park, sit in front of a microfilm reader for hours while reviewing the contents of 60-odd reels of microfilm, and make paper copies of reports or have microfilm reels duplicated for further study back home, where they had to own (or have access to) a 16mm microfilm reader. This arduous process was beyond the means of most researchers, authors and enthusiasts. It was a process that unfortunately was rarely done. As a result, much of what has been written about the development of U.S. Air Force aircraft has lacked this fundamental source material.
Two recent events have changed this picture:
1) The NARA has introduced the capability of reproducing microfilm in digital form;
2) The Aircraft Engine Historical Society has produced a searchable on-line catalog of the Flight Test Division records.
Researchers can now visit the AEHS web site, search the Flight Test Division Memorandum Reports catalog, order digitized microfilm directly from NARA, and easily persue research in the comfort of their own offices.
How to Obtain Microfilm
By now you may have identified some reports that you simply must view. If you know the Document # you can order copies from NARA. Please note that the Flight Test Division and Power Plant Laboratory Memorandum Reports are the ONLY records that have been cataloged by the AEHS are are available for ordering as digitezed microfilms. All other citations refer to paper records that require either a visit to College Park to view or hiring an independent researcher to make copies.
The AEHS Needs Your Help
Making important information like this available for free is not free. What can you do to help?
1) You can make a tax-deductible Donation to the AEHS;
2) You can Join the AEHS;
3) You can tell your friends about the resource;
4) If you find errors, you can let us know.
Interested in knowing about flight testing being conducted on North American Aviation aircraft? Search the title field for "NAA".
In a similar way you can search for a specific aircraft type.