Westinghouse Aviation Gas Turbine Division

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Westinghouse Aviation Gas Turbine Division
Industry Aerospace
Fate Defunct
Founded 1945
Headquarters United States
Parent Westinghouse Electric Corporation

The Westinghouse Aviation Gas Turbine Division (AGT) was established by Westinghouse Electric Corporation in 1945 to continue the development and production of its turbo-jet gas turbine engines for aircraft propulsion under contract to the US Navy Bureau of Aeronautics. The AGT Division was headquartered in Kansas City, Missouri, where it remained in operation until 1960 when Westinghouse decided focus on industrial and electric utility gas turbines.

History[edit]

A concise history of Westinghouse jet engine development may be found in the ASME technical paper entitled "Evolution of Heavy-Duty Power Generation and Industrial Gas Turbines in the United States”[1] ( see references) delivered at the ASME International Gas Turbine Conference, The Hague, June, 1994. This paper was compiled by Westinghouse engineers who had direct personal experience or close personal connections with the subject. The following summary is gleaned from that paper as well as from the Tommy Thomason reference also cited.

In March, 1943, the first US designed and manufactured jet engine went on test at Westinghouse, 15 months after the signing of a contract with the U.S. Navy Bureau of Aeronautics. This first engine, with a 19 in. intake diameter, was designated the WE19A, had a thrust of 1130 lb. and weighed 827 lb.

Due to wartime secrecy, Westinghouse worked on its own, with no prior jet engine experience and without knowledge of German, British or other US jet engine developments. The result was the first US jet engine design, complete with an axial compressor, an internal annular combustor, a turbine and jet exhaust nozzle.

The basic principle of the engine was similar to the original Whittle engine developed in England, but Westinghouse’s use of an axial flow compressor, along with internal combustion chamber, were major advancements that led the way to a practical engine for aviation propulsion. (Earliest GE jet engines, based on the Whittle design and developed with Allison, featured a centrifugal compressor. GE and Allison had the Army contract to develop a ‘land based’ jet while the Westinghouse Navy contract was for carrier-based Navy jet fighters. )

An improved version of the first engine, the WE19B, was flight tested in January 1944 as a booster unit on a Chance Vought Corsair FG-1 fighter (photo). It delivered 1365 lb. thrust and weighed 731 lb.

One year later, as the J30, it was used to power the Navy’s first jet fighter, the McDonnell Douglas FH-1 Phantom. Sixty one (61) Phantom planes were equipped with the J30 engine. (It is noteworthy that Pratt & Whitney Aircraft, then a major producer of piston aircraft engines for the military, entered the jet engine business in 1945 as a Westinghouse/US Navy licensee to build the J30 engine.)

The J34, a 34-in. diameter engine that delivered 3000 lb. of thrust, turned out to be the last production engine built by Westinghouse at its Aviation Gas Turbine Division facility in Kansas City, KS. It was used extensively by the Navy in the McDonnell F2D Banshee, the Douglas F3D Skynight and Vought 7FU-1 Cutlass, with the addition of an afterburner.

Late in the 1940s, to meet the growing needs of the Navy for higher thrust and longer range (a jet bomber was planned as well as new Navy fighter jets), Westinghouse began development of the J40, with a target thrust of 7500 lb. (10,900 lb. with afterburner).

The J40 program was plagued by delays and development problems. Some of the problems were reportedly due to the overweight airframe, the McDonnel F3H-1N Demon. Both the J40 and Demon were grounded after a number of aircraft were lost, and, later, the upgraded F3H-2N used Allison engines. Ultimately, other aircraft planned for the J40 were either cancelled or outfitted with alternative engines, and the J40 was never qualified for full production. The program was terminated in 1955.

Although production and support of the J34 continued, Westinghouse exited the jet engine business in 1960, closing the Kansas City operation, after having supplied engines for 1223 Navy jet planes. Ironically, the first Pan Am Boeing 707 had just flown its maiden commercial flight, powered by Pratt & Whitney jet engines, just a year earlier.

Following closure of AGT Division in 1960, many of its engineers joined the growing land-based gas turbine business of Westinghouse's Small Steam & Gas Turbine Division, located at its Steam Turbine manufacturing headquarters in Lester, PA, near to Philadelphia.

Products[edit]

References[edit]

  • Gunston, Bill (2006). World Encyclopedia of Aero Engines, 5th Edition. Phoenix Mill, Gloucestershire, England, UK: Sutton Publishing Limited. ISBN 0-7509-4479-X. 
  • Leyes II, Richard A.; William A. Fleming (1999). "10". The History of North American Small Gas Turbine Aircraft Engines. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution. p. 725. ISBN 1-56347-332-1. 
  • US Navy Aircraft History --- Westinghouse: From Hero to Zero. A blog posted by Tommy Thomason, March 21, 2011, http://thanlont.blogspot.com/2011/03/from-hero-to-zero.html
  • ASME Paper 94-GT- 688 Scalzo, Bannister, Howard, and DeCorso “Evolution of Heavy-Duty Power Generation and Industrial Gas Turbines in the United States” delivered at the ASME International Gas Turbine Conference, The Hague, June, 1994.

External links[edit]