Power Jets W.1

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W.1
PowerJetsW.1.JPG
Preserved Power Jets W.1 at the Science Museum (London)
Type Turbojet
Manufacturer Power Jets
First run 14 December 1940
Major applications Gloster E.28/39
Developed into General Electric J31

The Power Jets W.1 (sometimes called the Whittle W.1[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 as being the first British jet engine to fly, as the "Whittle Supercharger Type W1",[2] powering the Gloster E.28/39 on its maiden flight at RAF Cranwell on 15 May 1941.[3]

Design and development[edit]

After a period of indifference, in June 1939 a demonstration of the Power Jets WU was made before a delegation of the Air Ministry, notably Dr Pye, Director of Scientific Research. The demonstration was so successful that the Ministry quickly arranged to buy the engine to give Power Jets working capital, lending it back to them for testing.

The first E.28/39 prototype W4041/G powered by the W.1A

At the same time, a contract was placed for a "flight engine", the W.1.[4] Unlike the Whittle WU, that began bench testing in 1937, the W.1 was a symmetrical engine designed to facilitate, after development, installation in an aircraft. The W.1 used a double-sided centrifugal compressor of Hiduminium RR.59 alloy,[5] reverse-flow combustion chambers and a water-cooled axial-flow turbine section; this was later modified to use air-cooling. The turbine blades were of Firth-Vickers Rex 78, a stainless steel developed under Dr. W. H Hatfield.

As development of the new design dragged on, it was decided to build a test unit "early engine" using any components that were deemed unairworthy along with test items. This was assembled to become the one-off W.1X.This officially unairworthy unit powered the Gloster E.28/39 on a short 'hop' during taxiing trials in April 1941, with flight trials taking place a month later with a definitive W.1 engine.[6]

After a visit to England in 1941, General Henry H. Arnold arranged for the W.1X to be shipped to the U.S, along with drawings for the more powerful W.2B engine. The former became the prototype of the General Electric I-16 and by April 1943 had been developed to produce 1,650 pounds force (750 kgf).[7]

Variants[edit]

W.1(T)
Bench-testing only.
W.1(3)
No details.
W.1X
Intended for ground use only (aircraft taxi tests).
W.1A
1,450 lbf (6.45KN) air-cooled turbine disc
General Electric I-16
American-built version of W.1A. This is the only version of the W.1 to go into mass production.

Applications[edit]

Engines on display[edit]

The Gloster E.28/39 and the Power Jets W.1 engine that powered it are both on public display at the Science Museum (London).

The W.1A is preserved at the RAF College Cranwell, and the W.1X is at the Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC.[8]

Specifications (W.1 early development engine)[edit]

Data from Jane's[9]

General characteristics

  • Type: Centrifugal flow turbojet
  • Length:
  • Diameter:
  • Dry weight: 700 lb (320 kg)

Components

  • Compressor: Single-stage double-sided centrifugal flow
  • Combustors: 10 reverse-flow can
  • Turbine: Single stage axial flow
  • Fuel type: Kerosene

Performance

Specifications (W.1 later development engine)[edit]

Data from Jane's[10]

General characteristics

  • Type: Centrifugal flow turbojet
  • Length:
  • Diameter:
  • Dry weight: 700 lb (320 kg)

Components

  • Compressor: Single-stage double-sided centrifugal flow
  • Combustors: 10 reverse-flow can
  • Turbine: Single stage axial flow
  • Fuel type: Kerosene

Performance

Specifications (General Electric J-31-GE-1 production engine)[edit]

General characteristics

  • Type: Centrifugal flow turbojet
  • Length: ~72 in (1,828.8 mm)
  • Diameter: ~41.5 in (1,054.1 mm)
  • Dry weight: ~865 kg (1,907 lb)

Components

  • Compressor: Single-stage double-sided centrifugal flow
  • Combustors: 10 reverse-flow can
  • Turbine: Single stage axial flow
  • Fuel type: Kerosene

Performance

See also[edit]

Related development
Related lists

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

Bibliography[edit]

  • Gunston, Bill. World Encyclopedia of Aero Engines. Cambridge, England. Patrick Stephens Limited, 1989. ISBN 1-85260-163-9
  • Jane's Fighting Aircraft of World War II. London. Studio Editions Ltd, 1998. ISBN 0-517-67964-7
  • Smith, Geoffrey G.Gas Turbines and Jet Propulsion for Aircraft, London S.E.1, Flight Publishing Co.Ltd., 1946.
  • Kay, Anthony L. (2007). Turbojet History and Development 1930-1960 1 (1st ed.). Ramsbury: The Crowood Press. ISBN 978-1-86126-912-6. 

External links[edit]