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The History of the Johnsville Centrifuge

Our organization is dedicated to preserving the history of Johnsville Centrifuge and its contribution to the US Space Program as well as the memory of the Naval Air Development Center (NADC), Johnsville where the US Navy’s research laboratories helped win the Cold War. This is managed by our history and exhibits committee, also known as the NADC Historical Society.

NADC began as farmland acquired by the Brewster Aircraft Company in 1939. By 1941 a factory was in operation on the site building their legacy Buffalo Fighters and Buccaneer Dive Bombers intended for use by the Navy during WWII. The Navy began supervising operation of the company after Brewster experienced difficulties with production. By the end of World War II the Navy acquired the property outright and converted it for use by the Naval Aircraft Modification Unit (NAMU) a division of the Naval Aircraft Factory.

When the war ended, the production shops were converted to research laboratories studying and developing pilotless aircraft, electronics, and weapons, and the Naval Air Development Station, Johnsville (NADS) was born.

Over the ensuing years, changes associated with new missions resulted in renaming the site to the Naval Air Development Center (NADC) Johnsville and eventually to the Naval Air Warfare Center (NAWC) Warminster. More than 31 laboratories would call Warminster home including those studying navigation, submarine detection, aerospace materials, aircraft structures, pilot’s equipment, computers, airborne photography and aircraft instrumentation.

Construction of the human centrifuge building began in 1947 and was completed by 1949. It initiated operations to research the limits of human tolerance for “G” forces. By the late 1950s astronauts for the US Space Program began training at Johnsville. It continued operations until 2004.

ATTENTION FORMER JOHNSVILLE SERVICE MEMBERS, EMPLOYEES AND CONTRACTORS: If you worked at Johnsville or Brewster Aircraft or were associated with those facilities in any way, we want to hear your stories.  You may contact us at events@nadcmuseum.org to help us to preserve the legacy of innovation by sharing your memories with future generations.