Charles Chapman (engineer)

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Charles Wallace Chapman (4 August 1897 - December 1979) was a British mechanical engineer, who designed the first diesel engine suitable for an automobile, the high speed diesel engine (compression ignition engine).

Early life[edit]

He was born in Lancaster, Lancashire.

He attended Lancaster Royal Grammar School. He served in the First World War as a lieutenant in the RNVR. He later gained a master's degree in engineering from the University of Liverpool.



In the 1920s he worked as personal assistant to Sir Ernest Petter, who owned Petters (Ipswich) Ltd. At this company he worked with Frank Perkins.

Perkins Engines[edit]

On 7 June 1932 he jointly founded Perkins Engines in Peterborough (then in Northamptonshire) with Frank Perkins (engineer), who he first met in 1929. Perkins Engines was created to build high speed diesel engines. Francis Arthur Perkins was the businessman, and Charles Chapman provided technical skill.

During the Second World War, he designed the Perkins S6 marine diesel engine, which powered the Royal Navy's air-sea rescue craft. He also designed the T1 engine for boats, which was not made. He resigned from Perkins in November 1942. Frank Perkins died in 1967.

Second World War[edit]

During the Second World War he carried out work for the Air Ministry.

Personal life[edit]

He died in Winchelsea in East Sussex, aged 82 in 1979.

See also[edit]


  • Times obituary, 3 December 1979, page 14

External links[edit]