Timeline of jet power

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This article outlines the important developments in the history of the development of the air-breathing (duct) jet engine. Although the most common type, the gas turbine powered jet engine, was certainly a 20th-century invention, many of the needed advances in theory and technology leading to this invention were made well before this time.


The jet engine was clearly an idea whose time had come. Frank Whittle submitted his first patent in 1930. By the late 1930s there were six teams chasing development, three in Germany, two in the UK and one in Hungary. By 1942 they had been joined by another half dozen British companies, three more in the United States based on British technology, and early efforts in the Soviet Union and Japan based on British and German designs respectively. For some time after the World War II, British designs dominated, but by the 1950s there were many competitors, particularly in the US with its huge arms-buying programme.

Prehistoric times

Ancient times

The leadup (1791–1929)

First turbojet engines (1930–38)

1939, Flight

Heinkel He 178, the world's first aircraft to fly purely on turbojet power Ohain USAF He 178 page61.jpg
Heinkel He 178, the world's first aircraft to fly purely on turbojet power


The CC.2, the first publicly demonstrated jet aircraft. Caproni foto.jpg
The CC.2, the first publicly demonstrated jet aircraft.


The E.28/39 flies for the first time in 1942. IWM-CH14832A Gloster E28-39 205210674.jpg
The E.28/39 flies for the first time in 1942.


The Me 262 flies for the first time in 1942, and would go on to become the first jet powered combat aircraft to enter service. Messerschmitt Me 262 Schwable.jpg
The Me 262 flies for the first time in 1942, and would go on to become the first jet powered combat aircraft to enter service.


The Meteor flew in 1943, a year later than the 262, but entered service only a month later. Royal Air Force Fighter Command, 1939-1945. CL2946.jpg
The Meteor flew in 1943, a year later than the 262, but entered service only a month later.





















See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Jet engine</span> Aircraft engine that produces thrust by emitting a jet of gas

A jet engine is a type of reaction engine, discharging a fast-moving jet of heated gas that generates thrust by jet propulsion. While this broad definition may include rocket, water jet, and hybrid propulsion, the term jet engine typically refers to an internal combustion air-breathing jet engine such as a turbojet, turbofan, ramjet, or pulse jet. In general, jet engines are internal combustion engines.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Turboprop</span> Turbine engine driving an aircraft propeller

A turboprop is a turbine engine that drives an aircraft propeller.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Turbojet</span> Airbreathing jet engine which is typically used in aircraft

The turbojet is an airbreathing jet engine which is typically used in aircraft. It consists of a gas turbine with a propelling nozzle. The gas turbine has an air inlet which includes inlet guide vanes, a compressor, a combustion chamber, and a turbine. The compressed air from the compressor is heated by burning fuel in the combustion chamber and then allowed to expand through the turbine. The turbine exhaust is then expanded in the propelling nozzle where it is accelerated to high speed to provide thrust. Two engineers, Frank Whittle in the United Kingdom and Hans von Ohain in Germany, developed the concept independently into practical engines during the late 1930s.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Hans von Ohain</span> German aerospace engineer (1911–1998)

Hans Joachim Pabst von Ohain was a German physicist, engineer, and the designer of the first turbojet engine to power an aircraft. Together with Frank Whittle he is sometimes described as a co-inventor of the turbojet engine however this may overstating the case, as Ohain was still a university student when in January 1930, Whittle filed his first patent for a turbojet engine. As von Ohain states in his biography, "My interest in jet propulsion began in the fall of 1933 when I was in my seventh semester at Gottingen University. I didn't know that many people before me had the same thought."

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Junkers Jumo 004</span> Very early turbojet aircraft engine

The Junkers Jumo 004 was the world's first production turbojet engine in operational use, and the first successful axial compressor turbojet engine. Some 8,000 units were manufactured by Junkers in Germany late in World War II, powering the Messerschmitt Me 262 fighter and the Arado Ar 234 reconnaissance/bomber, along with prototypes, including the Horten Ho 229. Variants and copies of the engine were produced in Eastern Europe and the USSR for several years following the end of WWII.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">BMW 003</span> Early German axial turbojet engine

The BMW 003 is an early axial turbojet engine produced by BMW AG in Germany during World War II. The 003 and the Junkers Jumo 004 were the only German turbojet engines to reach production during World War II.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Rolls-Royce Conway</span> 1950s British turbofan aircraft engine family

The Rolls-Royce RB.80 Conway was the first turbofan engine to enter service. Development started at Rolls-Royce in the 1940s, but the design was used only briefly, in the late 1950s and early 1960s, before other turbofan designs replaced it. However, the Conway engine was used in versions of the Handley Page Victor, Vickers VC10, Boeing 707-420 and Douglas DC-8-40. The name "Conway" is the English spelling of the River Conwy, in Wales, in keeping with Rolls' use of river names for gas turbine engines.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Rolls-Royce Derwent</span> 1940s British turbojet aircraft engine

The Rolls-Royce RB.37 Derwent is a 1940s British centrifugal compressor turbojet engine, the second Rolls-Royce jet engine to enter production. It was an improved version of the Rolls-Royce Welland, which itself was a renamed version of Frank Whittle's Power Jets W.2B. Rolls-Royce inherited the Derwent design from Rover when they took over their jet engine development in 1943.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Rolls-Royce Welland</span> Turbojet aircraft engine, Britains first production jet

The Rolls-Royce RB.23 Welland was Britain's first production jet engine. It entered production in 1943 for the Gloster Meteor. The name Welland is taken from the River Welland, in keeping with the Rolls-Royce policy of naming early jet engines after rivers based on the idea of continuous flow, air through the engine and water in a river.

Alan Arnold Griffith, was an English engineer and the son of Victorian science fiction writer George Griffith. Among many other contributions, he is best known for his work on stress and fracture in metals that is now known as metal fatigue, as well as being one of the first to develop a strong theoretical basis for the jet engine. Griffith's advanced axial-flow turbojet engine designs were integral in the creation of Britain's first operational axial-flow turbojet engine, the Metropolitan-Vickers F.2 which first ran successfully in 1941. Griffith, however, had little direct involvement in actually producing the engine, after he moved in 1939 from leading the engine department at the Royal Aircraft Establishment to start work at Rolls-Royce.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Metropolitan-Vickers F.2</span> Early turbojet engine

The Metropolitan-Vickers F.2 is an early turbojet engine and the first British design to be based on an axial-flow compressor. It was an extremely advanced design for the era, using a nine-stage axial compressor, annular combustor, and a two-stage turbine.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Heinkel HeS 011</span> German turbojet engine

The Heinkel HeS 011 or Heinkel-Hirth 109-011(HeS - Heinkel Strahltriebwerke) was an advanced World War II jet engine built by Heinkel-Hirth. It featured a unique compressor arrangement, starting with a low-compression impeller in the intake, followed by a "diagonal" stage similar to a centrifugal compressor, and then a three-stage axial compressor. Many of the German jet-powered aircraft designs at the end of the war were designed to use the HeS 011, but the HeS 011 engine was not ready for production before the war ended in Europe and only small numbers of prototypes were produced.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Heinkel HeS 8</span>

The Heinkel HeS 8 was an early jet engine designed by Hans von Ohain while working at Heinkel. It was the first jet engine to be financially supported by the RLM, bearing the official name 109-001. Had development continued it would have been known as the Heinkel 001, but it does not appear this was used in practice.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Rolls-Royce RB.50 Trent</span> 1940s British turboprop aircraft engine

The Rolls-Royce RB.50 Trent was the first Rolls-Royce turboprop engine.

Between 1936 and 1940 Alan Arnold Griffith designed a series of turbine engines that were built under the direction of Hayne Constant at the Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE). The designs were advanced for the era, typically featuring a "two-spool" layout with high- and low-pressure compressors that individually had more stages than typical engines of the era. Although advanced, the engines were also difficult to build, and only the much simpler "Freda" design would ever see production, as the Metrovick F.2 and later the Armstrong Siddeley Sapphire. Much of the pioneering work would be later used in Rolls-Royce designs, starting with the hugely successful Rolls-Royce Avon.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Power Jets</span> Defunct British jet engine manufacturer

Power Jets was a British company set up by Frank Whittle for the purpose of designing and manufacturing jet engines. The company was nationalised in 1944, and evolved into the National Gas Turbine Establishment.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Power Jets W.1</span>

The Power Jets W.1 was a British turbojet engine designed by Frank Whittle and Power Jets. The W.1 was built under contract by British Thomson-Houston (BTH) in the early 1940s. It is notable for being the first British jet engine to fly, as the "Whittle Supercharger Type W1", powering the Gloster E.28/39 on its maiden flight at RAF Cranwell on 15 May 1941. The W.1 was superseded by the Power Jets W.2.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Power Jets W.2</span> British turbojet engine

The Power Jets W.2 was a British turbojet engine designed by Frank Whittle and Power Jets Ltd. Like the earlier Power Jets W.1, the reverse-flow combustion configuration included a double-sided centrifugal compressor, 10 combustion chambers and an axial-flow turbine with air-cooled disc. It entered production as the Rolls-Royce Welland and was the first UK jet engine to power operational aircraft, the Gloster Meteor.

The General Electric I-A was the first working jet engine in the United States, manufactured by General Electric (GE) and achieving its first run on April 18, 1942.


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