Power Jets

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For joint venture company by Snecma and NPO Saturn, see PowerJet.
Power Jets
Limited company
Industry Aircraft jet engines
Fate Merged with RAE forming NGTE Pyestock
Founded 27 January 1936
Founder Sir Frank Whittle
Defunct 1945
Headquarters Rugby, Warwickshire (initially in 1936)
Lutterworth (from January 1938)
Area served
Key people
James Collingwood Tinling, Sir William Hawthorne
Products Gas turbines
Services Gas turbine research
Divisions Whetstone

Power Jets Ltd 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.


Founded on January 27, 1936, the company consisted of Whittle, Rolf Dudley-Williams, James Collingwood Tinling, and Lancelot Law Whyte of investment bankers O T Falk & Partners.

Initial premises were hired from British Thomson-Houston (BTH) at Rugby, Warwickshire. In addition to the founder members, the company initially 'borrowed' some fitters from BTH to assist in the project and later Power Jets was able to get 'one or two' people on loan from the Royal Air Force. By the beginning of 1940 the company had a total workforce of about twenty five. In 1938 Power Jets had moved from Rugby to BTH's works in Lutterworth.

A major breakthrough for the company came in 1940 when at the prompting of Stanley Hooker, Ernest Hives, chairman of Rolls-Royce, visited Lutterworth, and offered to make any parts Whittle required at Rolls-Royce's Derby experimental shop.[1]

The Power Jets WU design was the first turbojet to run, being first tested on April 12, 1937,[2] and the Power Jets W.1 powered the Gloster E.28/39, the first jet aircraft to fly in the United Kingdom. The W.1 was also the first jet engine built in the United States where, as the General Electric I-A, it powered the Bell P-59A Airacomet. The Power Jets W.2 was intended to be produced by Rover, but because of delays was later transferred to Rolls-Royce where it entered production as the Welland, powering early versions of the Gloster Meteor.

A version of the Power Jets W.2/700 was intended for the supersonic Miles M.52 research aircraft, but the aircraft was never completed. The M.52 version of the W.2/700 was one of the first engines designed with a reheat jetpipe, i.e., an afterburner.[citation needed]

On 28 March 1944, after discussions with the Air Ministry, Whittle reluctantly agreed to the nationalisation of Power Jets Ltd. for £135,000, and the company became Power Jets (Research and Development) Ltd.

After the Second World War the company was merged with the Turbine Division of the Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE) at Farnborough, to form the National Gas Turbine Establishment (NGTE Pyestock).


The Power Jets W.2/700 engine flew in the Gloster E.28/39, the first British aircraft to fly with a turbojet engine, and the Gloster Meteor - the light-brown object in the middle of the jetpipe is a cork intended to prevent museum visitors from hurting themselves on the sharp, pointed end, of the turbine fairing
  • WU
  • W.1
  • WR.1 co-design with Rolls-Royce (RR) using Power Jets components and RR compressor.[3]
  • W.2
  • 250-500 shp turboprop taken up by Coventry Climax as the C.P.35[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "World Encyclopedia of Aero Engines - 5th edition" by Bill Gunston, Sutton Publishing, 2006, p.191
  2. ^ http://www.flightglobal.com/pdfarchive/view/1973/1973%20-%202990.html
  3. ^ "World Encyclopedia of Aero Engines - 5th edition" by Bill Gunston, Sutton Publishing, 2006, p.191
  4. ^ "World Encyclopedia of Aero Engines - 5th edition" by Bill Gunston, Sutton Publishing, 2006, p.160