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Thread: Merlin Superchargers and RAF Henley

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Reading, UK
    Posts
    924

    Merlin Superchargers and RAF Henley

    When, in the early 1940's of WW2, Rolls-Royce delivered a Merlin engine did it come complete with it's supercharger, or did an aircraft builder have to acquire the proper supercharger and fit it before installing the engine in an airframe?
    On the other hand, if a Merlin came complete (from Rolls-Royce) with its supercharger then did Rolls-Royce make the superchargers 'in-house', or did they sub-contract them to outside engineering firms?
    Extensive underground chalk workings at Warren Row (NE of Reading) are said to have been engaged in WW2 (inter alia) in the manufacture of aircraft engine superchargers (thus my question(s) above). RAF Henley-on-Thames - where many Spitfires were assembled after the dispersion subsequent to the Woolston Works bombing - is only 1.5 miles away. Incidentally, those chalk workings were converted to a Cold War RSG and are - today - still in use as a secure document store.
    I am trying to research the history of RAF Henley (but with little success). It struck me as fairly strange how various bits of farm-, or down-, land were actually selected for WW2 airfields. Today, though, I have just found out that Alan Cobham's Flying Circus operated from the fields to the East of Upper Culham Farm (OS NGR SU 795824) in the mid-1930's ( where Willis & Hollis place RAF Henley!)
    If anyone can confirm, or deny, any of the above and - more importantly - knows where the history of RAF Henley (or its other possible names of RAF Cockpole Green, or RAF Crazies Hill!!!) is lurking then I would be most grateful for a 'heads-up'.
    Any leads will be gratefully received.
    Resmoroh

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Carlisle, UK
    Posts
    1,146
    Hi

    Merlins were always despatched complete.
    The large sub-assemblies such as superchargers were generally machined and assembled in-house, which would also include Ford at Trafford Park, and Packard in Detroit.
    A huge number of outside contractors, including many car manufacturers, were involved in the overhaul of aero-engines, and this often gets confused with manufacturing.

    It is not impossible that used Merlin superchargers were being used for something else. Post-War, the CEGB used Griffon superchargers for something or other.

    The Rolls-Royce Heritage Trust could give you a more definitive answer regarding your particular site though.

    Pete
    If I had a quid for every time someone mentioned "buried crated Merlins", I could buy one!

    www.flightengineering.co.uk

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Posts
    9
    Hi

    The field at Henley known as Upper Culham Farm was indeed used by Alan Cobham but i believe only on the one occasion this being June 19th 1935, the airfield was constructed in late 1939 and used by the RAF until 1945. There is some information and photos in the Museum of Berkshire Aviation at Woodley.
    I am currently working on a book about the history (although more information is always handy) of the site and have managed to piece together quite a bit about it's history, from it's days as a relief landing ground for local Flying Training Schools and by 529 Squadron through to it's use by Vickers-Supermarine for Spitfire PR.IV and V assembly, (does anyone know the exact amount assembled here and the range of serial numbers, as i believe some of the early PR.IV's were built at Heston?)

    DarrenJP

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Reading, UK
    Posts
    924
    Pete/Darren,
    Mni tks yr responses - much appreciated. RAF Henley is beginning to appear out of the mists of time.
    Darren can you please PM, or email, me. You can have what I've found out - if it would be any use to you.
    HTH
    Resmoroh

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Reading, UK
    Posts
    924
    Darren,
    I've sent you a PM.
    Resmoroh

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    1

    RAF Henley

    Action Stations, Volume 8, gives a few details of RAF Henley (also known as Crazies Farm) at Grid Ref 795824 which is just to the east of Upper Culham Farm and in the same location as Willis and Holliss state (although one may be quoting the other). It opened in July 1940 as a RLG for White Waltham Tiger Moths. Later it was a RLG for Woodley Magisters. In 1944 529 Sqn arrived with Oxfords, Hornet Moths and Avro Rotas. Morgan & Shacklady's Spitfire book says that it was used for "final assembly and flight test" of Spitfires produced by the Reading group of dispersed manufacture. Some small components were produced in the underground workshop which was once a chalk mine at nearby Warren Row. The airfield closed in Oct 1945. I would be interested in anything else you gather on RAF Henley. Roger.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Posts
    2
    The RAF Henley site you are referring to is based just outside Henley near Marsh Lock on the river Thames. It was never a flying station if I am thinking of the right site and was as you say used for producing aircraft engine parts and later on as a Regional Seat of Government (RSG). Both Henley and Warren Row are both owned by the same document archiving company and are in private hands. I’ve been in the bunker in Henley many times but only visited the outside of the site in Warren Row.



    The Henley site was predominantly based around it’s bunker which was pretty big. When I visited above ground there was only a medical building, a canteen and the guard house / bunker entrance buildings.



    http://www.subbrit.org.uk/rsg/sites/h/henley/



    http://www.subbrit.org.uk/rsg/sites/...row/index.html



    I have books with much more info on both sites if you want to contact me, but quite a bit can be found on the web. I also have a plan of the Henley site somewhere.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Reading, UK
    Posts
    924
    R33, Hi,
    I've just sent you an email in response to yr req.
    It's 'bounced back'. Try me on PeterWDavies01ATAOL.com (replace AT by the usual)
    Resmoroh
    Meteorology is a science: good meteorology is an art.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Posts
    2
    Just mailed you

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