Men stand in front of turning vanes inside the Altitude Wind Tunnel (AWT) at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) Aircraft Engine Research Laboratory. The AWT was the only wind tunnel capable of testing full-size aircraft engines in simulated altitude conditions. A large wooden drive fan, located on the other side of these vanes, created wind speeds up to 500 miles per hour. The drive shaft connected the fan to the induction motor located in an adjacent building.
Turning vanes were located in each corner of the rectangular tunnel to straighten the airflow and direct it around the corners. This set of vanes was located in the 31-foot-diameter southeast corner of the tunnel. These elliptical panels consisted of 36 to 42 vertical vanes that were supported by three horizontal supports. The individual vanes were 2.5 feet long and half-moon shaped. The panel of vanes was affixed to the curved corner rings of the tunnel. Each set of turning vanes had a moveable vane in the middle of the lower level for personnel access.
Each set of vanes took weeks to assemble before they were installed during the summer of 1943. This publicity photograph was taken just weeks after the tunnel became operational in February 1944.