Documents Tracing the History of NADC/NAWC
Additional Naval History can be found at the Official Navy Historical Website

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A Brief Chronology of the Formation of NADC Johnsville
and Naval Aviation History in the Philadelphia area
From the Naval History Website

Philadelphia Naval Ship Yard is on League Island in the Delaware River in Philadelphia. The original naval yard was established in 1801. The yard underwent numerous upgrades, primarily in the early part of the 20th century.

In 1917, the Naval Aircraft Factory was established on the island. After World War I, the factory focused on the development and manufacture of experimental aircraft and aircraft accessories.

October 24, 1916--The Bureau of Steam Engineering requested the Navy Yard, Philadelphia, to undertake development of a radio direction finder for use on aeroplanes, and specified that the apparatus be as light as possible and use wave lengths of 600 to 4,000 meters.

April 27, 1917--The Marine Aeronautic Company, Advance Base Force, was organized at Marine Barracks, Philadelphia Navy Yard, by the transfer of personnel from the Marine Aviation Section at Pensacola, from other Marine Corps units, and from the Marine Corps Reserve Flying Corps. Captain A. A. Cunningham was in command.

July 27, 1917--Construction of the Naval Aircraft Factory at the Navy Yard, Philadelphia, was authorized for the purposes of constructing aircraft, undertaking aeronautical developments and providing aircraft construction cost data.

August 10, 1917--Ground was broken for the Naval Aircraft Factory at the Philadelphia Navy Yard.

October 14, 1917--The Marine Aeronautic Company at Philadelphia was divided into the First Aviation Squadron, composed of 24 officers and 237 men, and the First Marine Aeronautic Company, composed of 10 officers and 93 men. On the same day, the First Marine Aeronautic Company transferred to the Naval Air Station at Cape May, N.J., for training in seaplanes and flying boats and on 17 October the First Aviation Squadron transferred to the Army field at Mineola, Long Island, for training in landplanes.

October 16, 1917--The first power driven machine was started at the Naval Aircraft Factory, just 67 days after ground was broken.

July 7, 1918--The Naval Aircraft Factory completed its first order for 50 H-16 flying boats.

July 27,1918--The N-l, first experimental aircraft designed and built at the Naval Aircraft Factory, made its fourth successful flight and its first test of the Davis gun for which it was designed. Lieutenant Victor Vernon piloted and Lieutenant Sheppard operated the gun which gave what was reported as a very satisfactory performance against a target moored in the Delaware River near the factory.

November 22, 1918--Lieutenant Victor Vernon and Mr. S. T. Williams dropped a 400-pound dummy torpedo from an F5L at the Naval Aircraft Factory in the initial test of a torpedo launching gear upon which development had begun the preceding July.

OCTOBER 26, 1921--A compressed air, turntable catapult, in its first successful test, launched an N-9 seaplane piloted by Commander H. C. Richardson from a pier at the Philadelphia Navy Yard.

MAY 1-2, 1925--Lieutenants C. H. Schildhauer and J. R. Kyle, on a test flight over Philadelphia of the PN-9 manufactured at the Naval Aircraft Factory, broke the world endurance record for Class C seaplanes, remaining in the air for 28 hours, 35 minutes, 27 seconds. The plane, a metalhulled flying boat equipped with two Packard engines, was used by Rodgers later in the year on his record flight toward Hawaii.

MAY 29. 1925--The standard color of naval aircraft was modified: hulls and floats of seaplanes were to be painted navy gray; wings, fuselages, landing gear, etc., aluminum color; and the top surface of upper wings, stabilizers and elevators, orange yellow.

June 26, 1928--Lieutenant Arthur Gavin, piloting a PN-12 powered with two Pratt & Whitney Hornet engines, set a world altitude record of 15,426 feet at Philadelphia for Class C seaplanes with a payload of 2,000-kilograms.

June 27, 1928--Lieutenant Arthur Gavin, in a PN-12 equipped with two 525-hp. Pratt & Whitney engines, made a world record altitude flight of 19,593 feet at Philadelphia for Class C seaplanes with a useful load of l,000-kilograms.

January 5, 1935--The Bureau of Navigation stated that Lieutenant Commander J. R. Poppen MC, would be ordered to the Naval Dispensary, Philadelphia Navy Yard, with additional duty at the Naval Aircraft Factory, to observe pilots, conduct their annual physical examinations and work on hygienic and physiological aspects of research and development projects. This was the first assignment of a Flight Surgeon to the Naval Aircraft Factory other than as part of a specific project.

July 14, 1943 --The Secretary issued a General Order forming the Naval Air Material Center, consisting of the separate commands of the Naval Aircraft Factory, the Naval Aircraft Modification Unit, the Naval Air Experimental Station and the Naval Auxiliary Air Station. This action, effective 20 July, consolidated in distinct activities the production, modification, experimental, and air station facilities of the former Naval Aircraft Factory organization.

November 30, 1943 --A department of Aviation Medicine and Physiological Research was authorized at the Naval Air Material Center, to study physiological factors particularly as related to design of high speed and high altitude aircraft. June 30, 1944--The Naval Aircraft Modification Unit of the Naval Air Material Center, Philadelphia, was relocated at Johnsville, Pa., where facilities for intensified efforts in guided missiles development and quantity modification of service airplanes were available.

November 6, 1944--Recognition of the future importance of turbojet and turboprop powerplants led the Bureau of Aeronautics to request the Naval Air Material Center to study requirements for a laboratory to develop and test gas-turbine powerplants. This initiated action which led to the establishment of the Naval Air Turbine Test Station, Trenton, N.J.

Oct 30- 1946-Under a project conducted by NAMC Philadelphia, Lieutenant (jg) A. J. Furtek made a successful ejection from a JD-1, flying at about 250 knots at 6,000 feet over Lakehurst, N.J. It was the Navy's first live test of an ejection seat.

June 15, 1954--To coordinate and guide the extensive aeronautical research, development, and material activities in the Fourth Naval District, embracing the Philadelphia, Johnsville, Trenton, and Lakehurst areas, the Naval Air Development and Material Center was established at Johnsville, Pa., Rear Admiral S. B. Spangler, Commander.

JANUARY 1 1957--The Naval Air Experimental Station, Philadelphia, one of the four subcommands grouped together to form the Naval Air Material Center in 1943, was disestablished and consolidated with the NAMC.

July 1. 1967--Naval Air Propulsion Test Center, with headquarters at Trenton, N.J., was established by merger of the Naval Air Turbine Test Station, Trenton, and the Aeronautical Engine Laboratory of NAEC Philadelphia.

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