ENTERING THE JET AGE

World War Two was a melting pot for invention in all aspects of warfighting, however, it is arguably the skies that saw the most decisive transformation.

Squadron Leader J Moloney takes off from RAE Farnborough in the Gloster E.28/39 prototype, Britain’s first jet aircraft
OFFICIAL PHOTOGRAPH

794 thrust horsepower

The first viable turbojet engine was designed by British engineer and RAF officer Sir Frank Whittle – who was ranked 42nd in a poll of 100 Greatest Britons in 2002.

First devising his concept in 1929, Whittle endured a long patch of mixed fortune before investment in his design was finally pledged in the mid-1930s with Power Jets Ltd established in 1936 to develop and eventually produce it. Early prototypes were tested in 1937 but a problematic development continued until mid-1939. At this point, the Air Ministry placed an order for a viable version of the Power Jets W.1 engine for pairing with a simple testbed, the Gloster E.28/39.

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