Frank Whittle and the Invention of the Jet

Frank Whittle and the Invention of the Jet

by Andrew Nahum


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The story of the jet engine has everything: genius, tragedy, heroism, a world war, the individual vs. the state, and an idea that would change the world.

Frank Whittle always maintained that he was held back by a lack of government support. At the very moment in 1943 when his invention was unveiled to the world, his company, Power Jets, was forcibly nationalised.

Yet, as Andrew Nahum shows in this brilliantly researched book, Whittle's innovative brilliance, charm and charisma helped him recruit major support from the British government and the RAF, who gave him the green light ‘to build a jet engine’ at a time when to do so made little sense. Frank Whittle: Invention of the Jet is a story of what pushing technology to its limits can achieve and the effect that such achievement can have on those involved.

‘Read it [and] learn more about what really happened.’ Guardian

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781785782411
Publisher: Icon Books, Ltd. UK
Publication date: 11/14/2017
Series: Icon Science
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 844,005
Product dimensions: 5.08(w) x 7.80(h) x (d)

About the Author

Andrew Nahum is currently Keeper Emeritus at the Science Museum, London. He is also author of Alec Issigonis and the Mini (Icon Books, 2004) and Fifty Cars that changed the World (Design Museum, 2009, 2016).

Table of Contents

List of Figures and Plates iv

Acknowledgements v

About the Author vii

Foreword viii

Introduction 1

1 Whittle's Early Jet Ideas 12

2 The Formation of Power Jets Limited 22

3 Wartime Development 50

4 Even With All the Mistakes - Human and Otherwise 57

5 The 'Straight Through' Engine 65

6 The Origins of the Jet Engine Programme in the USA 91

7 The Nationalisation of Power Jets 104

8 A State-Owned Firm: Power Jets (R&D) Ltd 115

9 The End of Power Jets: Formation of the National Gas Turbine Establishment 120

10 Jet Modernity: the Comet 127

11 Comet Failure 139

12 The Leadership So Narrowly Missed 148

13 New Jets 152


A Jet Without Whittle? Developments in the USA 157

The Jet in Germany 161

Jet Histories 165

Notes 171

Bibliography 173

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