Sir Stanley Hooker
|Born||Stanley George Hooker
30 September 1907
Sheerness, Kent, England
|Died||24 May 1984 (aged 76)|
|Education||Borden Grammar School|
|Institution memberships||Rolls-Royce Limited
Bristol Aeroplane Company
|Significant projects||Rolls-Royce Derwent, Rolls-Royce Nene, Bristol Olympus, Bristol Orpheus, Rolls-Royce Pegasus|
|Significant advance||Aircraft engines|
Sir Stanley George Hooker, FRS,DPhil, BSc, FRAeS, MIMechE, (30 September 1907 – 24 May 1984) was a jet engine engineer, first at Rolls-Royce where he worked on the earliest designs such as the Welland and Derwent, and later at Bristol Aero Engines where he helped bring the troubled Proteus, and Olympus to market, and then designed the famous Pegasus.
Stanley George Hooker was born at Sheerness and educated at Borden Grammar School. He won a scholarship for Imperial College London to study mathematics, and in particular, hydrodynamics. He became more interested in aerodynamics, and moved to Brasenose College, Oxford where he received his DPhil in this area in 1935.
In late 1937 while working at the Admiralty he applied for a job at Rolls-Royce, and after being interviewed by Ernest Hives, started there in January 1938. He was permitted to study anything that caught his fancy, and soon moved into the supercharger design department. He started researching the superchargers used on the Merlin engine, and calculated that big improvements could be made to their efficiency. His recommendations were put into the production line for newer versions, notably the Merlin 45, improving its power by approximately 30%, and then the Merlin 61.
The Merlin 45 went into the Spitfire Mk V in October 1940, which was produced in the greatest number of any Spitfire variant. The two-stage supercharged Merlin 61 went into the Spitfire Mk IX, the second most-produced variant, which went into service in July 1942. The Merlin 61 arrived in time to give the Spitfire a desperately needed advantage in rate of climb and service ceiling over the Focke-Wulf Fw 190. This variant of the Merlin was also to become the powerplant of the North American P-51 Mustang, and its efficiency enabled the Mustang to fly all the way to Berlin, attack the defending German fighters, and return home; this engine and the laminar flow wing were considered the secrets of the Mustang's success. Lee Atwood of North American Aviation however, made it clear that the Meredith Effect had more influence on the performance of the Mustang than its laminar flow wing. The Meredith Effect used the heat of the engine to produce thrust through its sophisticated radiator system.
In 1940 Hooker was introduced to Frank Whittle, who was setting up production of his first production-quality jet engine, the W.2. In 1941 the Air Ministry had offered contracts to Rover to start production, but Whittle was growing increasingly frustrated with their inability to deliver various parts to start testing the new engine. Hooker was excited, and in turn brought Rolls-Royce chairman Ernest Hives to visit Rover's factory in Barnoldswick. Whittle mentioned his frustrations, and Hives told Whittle to send him the plans for the engine. Soon Rolls' Derby engine and supercharger factories were supplying the needed parts.
Rover was no happier with the state of affairs than Whittle. In 1942 Maurice Wilks of Rover met Hives and Hooker in a pub. Wilks and Hives eventually agreed that Rover would take over production of the Rolls-Royce Meteor tank engine factory in Nottingham and Rolls-Royce would take over the jet engine factory in Barnoldswick. Hooker soon found himself as chief engineer of the new factory, delivering the W.2 as the Welland. Wellands went on to power the earliest models of the Gloster Meteor, and a development of the Welland known as the Derwent powered the vast majority of the later models.
Whittle had moved to the US in 1942 to help General Electric get the W.2 into production there, returning in early 1943. Hooker also visited in 1943, and was surprised to find they had made extensive changes and raised the thrust to 4,000 lbf (18 kN). On his return to England he decided that Rolls should recapture the power lead, and in 1944 the team started development of a larger version of the Derwent that was delivered as the 5,500 lbf (24,000 N) Nene. While this proved to be a successful design, it was not used widely on British aircraft, and Rolls eventually sold a licence to the United States, and later, several engines to the Soviet Union, which then went on to copy it unlicensed. This set off a major political row, and soon the MiG-15, powered by a copy of the Nene, was outperforming anything the British or US had to counter it.
Meanwhile Hooker's team had moved onto their first axial-flow design, then known as the AJ.65 but soon to be renamed the Avon. This did not turn out well at first, and Hooker felt he was being blamed for its problems. At the same time Rolls decided that their existing piston engines were a dead end, and moved all future jet work from Barnoldswick to Derby, their main engine site. This reduced Hooker's role in the company, and after an emotional falling-out with Hives, he left.
In January 1949 Hooker went to work at the Bristol Aero Engine company. He immediately started work on sorting out the various problems of Bristol's turboprop design, the Proteus, which was intended to power a number of Bristol aircraft designs, including the Britannia. The task of rectifying the many faults of the Proteus was immense, but most were solved. But a near-fatal accident with Britannia G-ALRX in February 1954 due to a spur gear failure prompted a telephone call from his old boss Hives, who subsequently sent his top team of Rolls-Royce jet engineers, among them Elliott, Rubbra, Lovesey, Lombard, Haworth and Davies, to give Hooker some desperately needed help. Sadly this was the last communication between the two great men.
The Proteus was soon in production, but did not see widespread use, and only a small number of Britannias were built. Hooker also worked on finishing the Olympus, developing later versions that would be used on the Avro Vulcan and Concorde and a further development for the stillborn TSR2.
In 1952 Hooker was asked by the Folland company whether he could produce a 5,000 lbf (22 kN) thrust engine to power their new lightweight fighter, the Gnat. For this role he produced his first completely original design, the Orpheus, which went on to power the Fiat G91 and other light fighters. Hooker then used the Orpheus as the basis of an experimental vectored-thrust engine for VTOL aircraft, at that time considered by most to be the next big thing in aircraft design. By equipping an Orpheus to bleed off air from the compressor and turbine the thrust could be directed downwards, creating the Pegasus engine and leading to the Hawker Siddeley Harrier that used it.
In the late 1950s the Air Ministry forced through a series of mergers in the aerospace field that left only two airframe companies and two engine companies. Bristol was merged with Armstrong Siddeley to become Bristol Siddeley in 1958, while most other remaining engine companies merged with Rolls. In 1966 Bristol Siddeley was itself bought by the now cash-flush Rolls, with the result that there was only one engine company in England. After a brief period, Hooker retired in 1967, staying on as a consultant only. Hooker's eminence in the field was widely recognized and he was made an Honorary Fellow of the AIAA. In 1970 he retired fully, and was upset that after almost 30 years in the industry he had never become director of engine development.
Return to Rolls-Royce
In February 1971 Rolls-Royce was driven into receivership by its hugely expensive RB.211 project. Just prior to the bankruptcy, at the end of 1970, Hugh Conway (Group Managing Director, Gas Turbines) agreed that Hooker should come out of retirement to go to Derby to survey the situation. He also insisted that Hooker should be accorded the status of Technical Director at Derby. Hooker was made responsible for technical supervision of the four gas turbine divisions and was leading a Rolls-Royce effort to improve both power and fuel consumption of the engine. 'The situation came to a head in February 1971, just before we got the improved engine on test, when Lord Cole declared Rolls-Royce insolvent'.
Hooker was immediately appointed to the board of the new nationalised company, Rolls-Royce (1971) Ltd. As technical director he provided the expertise, drive and energy to lead and inspire the team, including drawing in old colleagues (some long retired), to rectify the problems and soon the RB.211 was in production. Its first application was for Lockheed's L-1011 Tri-Star. Hooker and his revitalized team then went on to complete the design of the more advanced RB211-524 series. It was to be another two years before, under Sir Kenneth Keith, they were at last permitted to go ahead with its full development.
During his return to Rolls-Royce, Sir Stanley was part of several high-level trade missions to China. These led to him becoming Honorary Professor of Aeronautical Engineering at Beijing University.
In 1984, Hooker published his autobiography, Not Much Of An Engineer, referring to a quip Hives had made upon seeing his qualifications - Hooker was a mathematician by training - during Hooker's job interview.
In the late 1980s, test pilot Bill Bedford gave a talk in Christie's auction room in South Kensington in London. He had been the original test pilot for the Harrier at Dunsfold. Bill talked about the various fighters he had flown, many of which had been powered by Hooker's engines. On the screen behind him, towards the end of his talk, he showed a picture of Hooker, and said, "I'll have to think about this a bit, but if I was asked who was Britain's greatest ever engineer, I'd have to decide between Brunel and Sir Stanley Hooker, but I'd probably go for Sir Stanley."
In a television series produced by Johnathan Lewis, Sir Kenneth Keith stated: 'I always thought that Stanley was a near genius. He was very, very clever and a very good engineer. And very clever, very good engineers are very difficult to find. You don't get too many in a generation or in a country.'
- Sir Stanley Hooker (1985). Not Much of an Engineer. The Crowood Press. ISBN 1-85310-285-7.
- Young, Pierre H. J.; Haworth, Leslie; Pearson, H.; Wilde, G. L.; Williams, J. E. F. (1986). "Stanley George Hooker. 30 September 1907-23 May 1984". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society 32: 276. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1986.0009. JSTOR 770114.
- "Addenda: Stanley George Hooker. 30 September 1907-23 May 1984". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society 33: 729–726. 1987. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1987.0026.
- Sir Stanley Hooker (1985). Not Much of an Engineer. The Crowood Press. ISBN 1-85310-285-7.
- Andrew Dow (2009). PEGASUS - THE HEART OF THE HARRIER: The History and Development of the World's First Operational Vertical Take-off and Landing Jet Engine. Pen and Sword Aviation. ISBN 184884042X.