Rolls-Royce (Hucknall) MAC Airfield History
- Derek Martin (updated by the Webmaster)

The Club has resided at its current flying field since 2015. As such, this article is primarily concerned with the history of the Hucknall Aerodrome, where members enjoyed flying model aircraft over a glorious 43 year period.
Up until Monday 11 May 2015 our flying site was either end of a 2000 yard tarmac runway, which was used by the Rolls-Royce Flight Test and Development Establishment.  The final test of an aircraft engine on the site took place on Monday 25 February 2008. As of 2017, there is still an R-R aircraft engine component factory onsite but the airfield was closed to full size aircaft in March 2015. Up until its closure, the airfield was only used by ourselves and the Merlin Flying Club (full size).  We liaised with the full size flyers and used the end of the runway furthest from their flight path for the day.
The airfield is an historic site and was opened for the first world war and used for training American and Canadian pilots.  Still on site are some of the only examples of Belfast Truss Hangars.  The airfield was closed in 1920 and the land sold back to a local farmer.  The war department however retained the hangars which were leased to local businesses.
In 1926, the War Department re-purchased the land and re-opened the airfield, which was used generally as a training base, being home to a number of Squadrons until 1957.
In the early 1930's, Rolls-Royce realised that they needed a flight testing facility.  Originally they used Tollerton airfield on the other side of Nottingham, then the War Ministry offered them the use of Hucknall and they moved there in 1934.  Since that date, particularly during the second world war years, an enormous amount of development work has been successfully carried out on the site; not only on aircraft and aero engines, but on various associated systems.
In 1940, a civilian Aircraft Repair unit started for the refurbishment of damaged Hurricanes.  In 1942, 284 Spitfire V's were converted to Mk IX's by replacing Merlin 45's with more powerful Merlin 61's with a two-speed supercharger.
Amongst the highlights are development work on the Merlin, Griffin and other Rolls-Royce piston engines, the installation of the first Merlin into a North American Mustang, which became the P51-D.  With the advent of the jet engine, Hucknall became involved not only with the engines but developed such things as the afterburner and reverse thrust systems.  Probably the most bizarre project ever undertaken was the 'Jet Control Research' unit better known as "The Flying Bedstead", the first tethered flights taking place in 1953 and the first free hover in 1954.  This research made possible the design of the revolutionary Hawker Harrier.
Development carried on with the RB211 and currently the Trent engines, which power many of the world's aircraft.

Unfortunately, testing at Hucknall has ended, although the factory still remains.

Aircraft spotters had a field day in the 50's and 60's.  All sorts of aircraft, civil and military came to, or were at, Hucknall.  From Ambassador to Vulcan it was there.

Rolls-Royce flight operations ceased in 1971, but the airfield still occasionally hosted special aircraft events.
Another Snippet...

The 1957 film The One That Got Away - Oberleutnant Franz Von Verra was arrested trying to steal a Hurricane from Hucknall.
Yet Another Snippet...

Found on YouTube: Hucknall - 60 years of test - A history of testing at Rolls-Royce Hucknall and a celebration of its heroes. Long-standing Hucknall MAC Chairman, the author of this article, Derek Martin, appears alongside other well-known Rolls-Royce faces.
This article was updated by the Webmaster on 19 November 2018.