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Aircraft propulsion from the back room

  • William Hawthorne (a1)


To whom must the praise be given? To the boys in the back rooms

On the 15th May 1941 a small aircraft landed at Cranwell after a flight lasting 17 minutes. The pilot, Fl. Lt. P. E. G. Sayer, got out of the aircraft and was immediately surrounded by an excited group wanting to know how the machine had performed. He answered questions standing by the aircraft and reading from the notes on his knee pad, which he copied on to the paper as shown in Fig. 1. This flight, the first of a Whittle turbojet propelled aircraft, started a new era in aviation. It also marked the beginning of the rapid development of a new heat engine, the fifth since Newcomen’s steam engine.

As you can see from the pilot’s notes, the performance of the E28/39 aircraft in that first flight was modest. An Indicated Air Speed (IAS) of 240 mph was reached. That it was powered by a turbojet can be seen from the readings of rpm, jet pipe temperature, etc. This first engine developed about 850 lb take-off thrust and weighed some 700 lb.



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Aircraft propulsion from the back room

  • William Hawthorne (a1)


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