Whittle, Sir Frank

Whittle, Sir Frank
b. 1 June 1907 Coventry, England
English engineer who developed the first British jet engine.
Frank Whittle enlisted in the Royal Air Force (RAF) as an apprentice, and after qualifying as a pilot he developed an interest in the technical aspects of aircraft propulsion. He was convinced that the gas-turbine engine could be adapted for use in aircraft, but he could not convince the Air Ministry, who turned down the proposal. Nevertheless, Whittle applied for a patent for his turbojet engine the following year, 1930. While still in the RAF, he was allowed time to study for a degree at Cambridge University and carry out postgraduate research (1934–7). By 1936 the official attitude had changed, and a company called Power Jets Ltd was set up to develop Whittle's jet engine. On 12 April 1937 the experimental engine was bench-tested. After further development, an official order was placed in March 1938. Whittle's engine had a centrifugal compressor, ten combustion chambers and a turbine to drive the compressor; all the power output came from the jet of hot gases.
In 1939 an experimental aircraft was ordered from the Gloster Aircraft Company, the E 28/39, to house the Whittle W1 engine, and this made its first flight on 15 May 1941. A development of the W1 by Rolls-Royce, the Welland, was used to power the twin-engined Gloster Meteor fighter, which saw service with the RAF in 1944. Whittle retired from the RAF in 1948 and became a consultant. From 1977 he lived in the United States. Comparisons between the work of Whittle and Hans von Ohain show that each of the two engineers developed his engine without knowledge of the other's work. Whittle was the first to take out a patent, Ohain achieved the first flight; the Whittle engine and its derivatives, however, played a much greater role in the history of the jet engine.
Principal Honours and Distinctions
Knighted 1948. Commander of the Order of the Bath 1947. Order of Merit 1986. FRS 1947. Honorary Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society.
1953, Jet, London (an account not only of his technical problems, but also of the difficulties with civil servants, politicians and commercial organizations).
Further Reading
J.Golley, 1987, Whittle: The True Story, Shrewsbury (this author based his work on Jet, but carried out research, aided by Whittle, to give a fuller account with the benefit of hindsight).

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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  • sir — /serr/, n. 1. a respectful or formal term of address used to a man: No, sir. 2. (cap.) the distinctive title of a knight or baronet: Sir Walter Scott. 3. (cap.) a title of respect for some notable personage of ancient times: Sir Pandarus of Troy …   Universalium

  • frank — frank1 frankable, adj. franker, n. /frangk/, adj., franker, frankest, n., v. adj. 1. direct and unreserved in speech; straightforward; sincere: Her criticism of my work was frank but absolutely fair. 2. without inhibition or subterfuge; direct;… …   Universalium

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