For larger photo
Dr. Hans von Ohain and Sir Frank
Whittle are both recognized as being the co-inventors of the jet engine.
Each worked separately and knew nothing of the other's work. Hans von Ohain
is considered the designer of the first operational turbojet engine. Frank
Whittle was the first to register a patent for the turbojet engine in 1930.
Hans von Ohain was granted a patent for his turbojet engine in 1936. However,
Hans von Ohain's jet was the first to fly in 1939. Frank Whittle's jet
first flew in in 1941.
Whittle was an English aviation engineer and pilot, the son of a mechanic,
Frank Whittle joined the Royal Air Force or RAF as an apprentice. He joined
an RAF fighter squadron in 1928 and became a test pilot in 1931. The young
RAF officer was only 22 when he first thought to use a gas turbine engine
to power an airplane. While often regarded as the father of modern jet
propulsion systems, the young Frank Whittle tried without success to obtain
official support for study and development of his ideas. He had to persist
his research on his own initiative and received his first patent on turbojet
propulsion in January 1930.
With private financial support, he
began construction of his first engine in 1935. This engine, which had
a single-stage centrifugal compressor coupled to a single-stage turbine,
was successfully bench tested in April 1937; it was only a laboratory test
rig, never intended for use in an aircraft, but it did demonstrate the
feasibility of the turbojet concept.
The modern turbojet engine used in many British and American aircraft is
based on the prototype that Frank Whittle invented.
The firm of Power Jets Ltd., with
which Whittle was associated, received a contract for a Whittle engine,
known as the W1, on July 7, 1939. This engine was intended to power a small
experimental aircraft. In February 1940, the Gloster Aircraft Company was
chosen to develop the aircraft to be powered by the W1 engine - the Pioneer.
The historic first flight of the Pioneer took place on May 15, 1941, with
Flight Lieutenant P. E. G. Sayer as pilot.
June 1, 1907, Coventry, Warwickshire, England
Doctor Hans Von
Ohain was a German airplane designer who invented an operational jet
engine. Hans Von Ohain obtained his doctorate in Physics at the University
of Göttingen in Germany and then became the junior assistant to Hugo
Von Pohl, director of the Physical Institute at the University. German
aircraft builder, Ernst Heinkel asked the university for assistance in
new airplane propulsion designs and Pohl recommended his star pupil. Hans
Von Ohain, was investigating a new type of aircraft engine that did not
require a propeller. Only twenty-two years old when he first conceived
the idea of a continuous cycle combustion engine in 1933, Hans Von Ohain
patented a jet propulsion engine design similar in concept to that of Sir
Frank Whittle but different in internal arrangement in 1934.
8, 1996, Columbia, Md., U.S.
Hans Von Ohain joined Ernst Heinkel
in 1936 and continued with the development of his concepts of jet propulsion.
A successful bench test of one of his engines was accomplished in September
1937. A small aircraft was designed and constructed by Ernst Heinkel to
serve as a test bed for the new type of propulsion system - the Heinkel
He178. The Heinkel He178 flew for the first time on August 27, 1939. The
pilot on this historic first flight of a jet-powered airplane was Flight
Captain Erich Warsitz.
Hans Von Ohain developed a second
improved jet engine, the He S.8A, which was first flown on April 2, 1941.
Dec. 14, 1911 , Dessau, Germany
Photo Courtesy U.S. Air Force (AFRL/AFMC)
- About the Photo: Sir Frank Whittle (left) and Dr. Hans von Ohain, AFRLs
chief propulsion scientist compare drawings of their unique patented turbine
engines during an historic first meeting in Wright-Pattersons Bldg. 18,
May 3, 1978. Both are recognized as the co-inventors of the jet engine
but served on opposite sides during World War II.
13, 1998, Melbourne, Fla., U.S.
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of Early Airplane Engines Leading to the Jet Engine