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Le premier avion British Jet propulsé par le nouveau moteur centrifuge Whittle W1 à crocs. Il a
volé avec brio mais les Allemands n'y étaient déjà parvenus que depuis un an et demi. Le premier
jet allemand, le Heinkel He-178 est disponible. Le P-59 américain rejoindra la collection Jets dès
que possible.
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Gloster E28 / 30 Whittle, premier avion à réaction britannique Pioneer
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La naissance du jet
Le 8 avril 1941, un événement top secret qui allait révolutionner l'aviation mondiale eut lieu à
Brockworth dans le comté de Gloucestershire.
Après les premiers essais en taxi, le pilote PEG (Phillip Edward Gerald) Sayer a poussé le levier
d'accélérateur vers l'avant jusqu'à ce que l'indicateur du moteur indique 16000 tr / min et que le
Gloster E28 / 39, le premier avion à réaction de Grande-Bretagne, soit en vol.
Pour éviter la possibilité de dommages à la bombe à Brockworth, une cible probable de la
Luftwaffe, ce petit appareil avait été équipé du moteur révolutionnaire à turbine à gaz de Sir
Frank Whittle chez Regent Motors à Cheltenham, où se trouve maintenant le Regent Arcade. Au
cours de ces premiers essais, le E28 / 39 ou Gloster Whittle a réalisé trois sauts atteignant une
hauteur de seulement 1,8 m. Cela suffisait à distinguer l'aérodrome de Brockworth comme site du
premier vol à réaction allié et donc comme site du patrimoine de l'aviation internationale.
Selon Sir Ralph Robins, président de Rolls-Royce, «les travaux pionniers de Frank Whittle sur le
turboréacteur sont probablement l’invention mécanique la plus importante de ce siècle. par cela".
C'est cet événement qui constitue le pivot du musée JET AGE de la Gloucestershire Aviation
Collection.
Comment se fait-il que le premier avion à réaction britannique ait été conçu, construit et piloté
pour la première fois dans la tranquillité rurale du Gloucestershire?
Le fait surprenant est que le Gloucestershire peut se vanter d'une plus grande association avec
l'aviation et l'aérospatiale que n'importe quel autre comté de Grande-Bretagne.
Cette longue tradition, qui a vu de nombreux types d'avions célèbres construits par la Bristol
Airplane Company et Parnall dans le sud du comté jusqu'à la Gloster Aircraft Company dans le
nord, se poursuit aujourd'hui dans les moteurs Rolls-Royce de Filton à Messier-Dowty et Smiths
Industries aérospatiales près de Cheltenham.
La première histoire du Gloster Meteor est intimement liée aux efforts britanniques pour
développer des turboréacteurs. En 1929, un jeune officier de vol de la British Royal Air Force (RAF)
nommé Frank Whittle a eu des idées pour construire un moteur d'avion basé sur la turbine à gaz.
D'autres chercheurs ont joué avec le concept, mais Whittle a été le premier à avoir les compétences
en ingénierie et en aéronautique pour faire quelque chose d'utile.
Since all earlier attempts to develop an aircraft engine based on the gas turbine engine had failed,
and Whittle's notions were so new and unusual, he was generally dismissed by government and
industry authorities. However, Whittle was stubborn enough to apply for a patent on his ideas in
1930, and continued to promote his engine concepts, with a remarkably lenient RAF giving him
time and opportunity to pursue the matter.
In 1936, Whittle set up a small
firm named Power Jets LTD to
pursue his ideas, and was soon
applying for new patents. One
was for a "bench-test" gas-turbine
engine designated the "Whittle
Unit (WU)". Whittle began tests of
the WU in 1937. The tests were
successful, if sometimes
extremely frightening, with the
engine having a nasty tendency
to go into violent runaway
operation. Fortunately, Whittle was not killed or maimed, and managed to get the WU working
well enough that by 1938 the British Air Ministry began to provide him with moderate funds to
continue his work.
In June 1939, with the WU working in a reliable and impressive fashion, the Air Ministry ordered a
flight-worthy engine, the "W.1", from Power Jets. In September 1939, the Air Ministry also ordered
that Gloster design an aircraft, the "E.28/39", to test-fly the engine. In the meantime, Whittle was
hearing rumors that the Germans were also working on "turbojet" engines, as they came to be
known.
Things were still not smooth sailing for Whittle. The Air Ministry was interested in his engine, but
it wasn't the highest priority, and by September Britain was in a war that the country was poorly
prepared to fight. In fact, by the summer and fall of 1940, Britain was struggling against German
Luftwaffe air fleets that pounded the island, with an invasion seeming imminent.
Despite the disruption caused by the
Battle of Britain, work on turbojet
engines and aircraft continued at a low
level. In fact, in 1940 the Air Ministry
issued a request, designated "F.9/40", for
an operational turbojet-powered fighter.
Given that Whittle's W.1 and its possible
derivatives appeared significantly
underpowered, Gloster's chief engineer
George Carter proposed a twin-engine
aircraft with the company designation
"G.41" for the specification.
The proposal was approved in
November 1940, with a batch of twelve
prototypes ordered on 7 February 1941.
The G.41 was named "Thunderbolt" in
September 1941, but in early 1942 it
became apparent that this would cause
confusion with the new American
Republic P-47 Thunderbolt, and the name was changed to "Meteor". Some sources also claim that it
was called "Rampage" during trials, though this appears to have been a cover name used for
security purposes.
The first of two experimental E.28/39 test aircraft,
which had the company designation of "G.40" and
were known informally as the "Gloster Whittle",
began taxi trials with an non-airworthy W.1X engine
on 8 April 1941, with Whittle himself performing
some of the tests, and Flight Lieutenant P.E.G.
"Gerry" Sayer, Gloster's chief test pilot, performing a
few "hops" off the runway that same day. After the
aircraft was refitted with a proper W.1 engine, Sayer
performed the first real flight in the aircraft on 15
May 1940, with everything going smoothly, and
Sayer having nothing but good to say about the
experience.
The second G.40 did not fly until March 1943. It would be lost due to a flight malfunction four
months later, with the pilot baling out successfully. The first would eventually end up as a museum
piece.
The G.40 was a simple all-metal "flying stovepipe" design, with a low-mounted straight wing and
retractable tricycle landing gear. It was powered by a single Whittle W.1 engine, providing 850 lbf
thrust. It had a wingspan of 29 feet, a length of 25 feet 4 inches, a maximum loaded weight of 3,700
pounds, and a modest top speed of 338 MPH.
Well, it was a beginning. Power Jets continued to refine the design to create the "W.2B" series
engines, which incorporated successive refinements until they provided almost 2,500 lbf thrust.
The different engine subvariants were all the same diameter and could be flight-tested in the G.40
aircraft, which ultimately obtained a top speed of at least 466 MPH.
Lutterworth and the Birth of the Jet Engine
By Roger Jones, The Whittle Society.
Frank Whittle first formed the idea of using
gas turbines to drive aircraft at far higher
speeds and altitudes than so far reached
whilst still a RAF cadet at Cranwell. It was not
until nine years later, having served as a test
pilot and awarded a 1st class degree at
Cambridge, that he was able to complete a
proof of concept engine and ran it successfully
at the British Thompson- Houston works at
Rugby on 12th April 1937.
Unfortunately, in these early runs, the engine
showed a distinct tendency to run out of
control so that BT suggested that it might be safer if the testing was continued up the road at a
disused foundry they
owned at Lutterworth.
Power Jets, the company
that he had formed to
develop his ideas, moved
into the Ladywood Works
on the east side of the
Leicester Road at the
beginning of 1938 with
one employee. Here, two
further versions of the
original engine were
tested and the team
gradually grew as talented graduates and experienced technicians were recruited. In July 1939
with war looming, the government placed an order for a flight engine. Image of the test bed at
Ladywood in Lutterworth Museum.
Locals still remember the influx of "boffins" who were billeted on local households and the
continuous sound of engine testing claiming that when it sometimes when it stopped in the night
the silence woke them up. Meanwhile an engine mounted on a truck was used to help clear snow
from the High St. and a hawthorn hedge in line with the efflux of engines under test burst into
flower in February.
After building and testing a interim engine the flight engine,
W1, was assembled and run in April 1941. On 15th May it
flew at Cranwell in the specially designed Gloster E28/39
aircraft. Some nine months earlier, unknown to the allies, the
Germans had flown an experimental gas turbine engine
designed by Otto Von Ohain.
With the government at last behind the project, W1 was
further developed and a new engine designed and tested to
power a twinengined fighter, the Gloster Meteor. Meanwhile
a production facility was being built some seven miles up the road in Whetstone. Power Jets finally
moved out of Ladywood Works in 1946
First British Jet Pilot:
Sayer's first actual flight
in the E28/39 consisted
of some short hops of
between 100 and 200
yards at Hucclecote on
the 7th April 1941 while
the aircraft was still
fitted with its first W1X
(Taxi only) engine. The
aircraft was then moved
to Cranwell where it
received its flight ready
engine. The first offical
flight took place at 7pm
on the 15th May 1941
and lasted 17 minutes
due to its minimal fuel
load. Over the next
thirteen days he
completed a further ten
hours of test flights at
altitudes up to 25,000
feet with the longest of
just under an hour with
its maximum load of 81
gallons.
Sayer was killed flying a
Typhoon in 1942 on a
visit to RAF Acklington
in Northumberland. The
cause of the accident
was never determined
but it is thought that he
collided in the clouds
with the other aircraft
he was flying with.
Following the loss the
task of continuing the
flight test program fell to
his assistant Michael
Daunt who would go on
to test-fly the early
Meteors.
I have repainted the Gloster model in a later color scheme of grey and
green camo. This version sported both the prototype "P" marking and the
serial with the "/G" suffix indicating permanent guarding when on the
ground. As usual, I built the model in 1/72 scale, which is small compared
to the original large size ! Feel free to add this to the model folder. Guido
van Roy
Monument guarding the site of the first Gloster E28 flight
What People Say...
...Great stuff there ! I have not yet found the time to print nor assemble the model, but it looks
familiar... If you allow me some comments though : I feel that all colours including the markings
are much too vivid - apart from the bright yellow undersides that is. Two color variations would be
possible :aluminium paint allover (as initially flown) and grey/green camo that at one time
replaced the well-known green/brown. Most of the time, the serial would have been suffixed by
"/G" to indicate that the aircraft was to be permanently guarded on the ground - obviously a safety
measure to keep the new technology out of reach for curious eyes. Guido/Apr 30, 09 (Co-designer of
this Gloster E29/39)
ANS: I agree the colors are vivid BUT when printed they become just about right. Good info about
the "G"..chip
I took an extra build step, rather than
overlap the fuselage sections; they are
connected using strips which allow the
sections to butt up against each other.
Bob Penikas
Modeln Pal, Bob
Martin, has figured
out how to make
fabulous clear
windscreens and
even complex
canopies using
common clear
packing tape. Its
easy !! Step by Step
instructional
Gloster E28
BRITISH JET ENGINE DEVELOPMENT
Despite Whittle's success, development of the operational G.41 fighter was
slow. Power Jets was not in a position to mass-produce the Whittle engine,
and trying to find another firm with adequate resources led to a two-year
delay in production. As a result, progress of the G.41 project ended up
tracking the somewhat convoluted path of
early British turbojet development.
By October 1940, the Air Ministry was
interested enough in the Whittle engine to
arrange for production of the W.2B by
Rover. Unfortunately, the term
"misarranged" is probably more appropriate, since Power Jets
and Rover worked at all times at cross purposes, with the
confusion aggravated by contrary instructions from the British
Ministry of Production. The jet engine development effort slowly
strangled on its own red tape until 1942, when Rolls-Royce's
Ernest Hives took S.B. Wilks of Rover out to lunch and, as the
story has it, asked Wilks: "Give us this jet job and we'll give you our tank-engine factory in
Nottingham."
Rolls-Royce wanted the jet engine and knew what they wanted to do with it, and indeed, beyond
the end of the millennium, still does. In fact, the company's own engineering staff had been
working on jet propulsion since 1939, and in making the swap Rover was giving away something
they didn't really want, while Rolls-Royce was obtaining a treasure.
A W.2B engine, plugged into the tail of a Vickers Wellington bomber, was test-flown that
November, and after further improvements was test-flown in the second G.40 Gloster Whittle in
March 1943. The W.2B was providing 1,600 lbf thrust by this time. Rolls-Royce worked with Whittle
to finally get an uprated version of the W.2B engine in production as the "Welland I".
The Whittle WU, W.1, and W.2B were all "centrifugal-flow" engines, which used a turbine similar to
a pump impeller to force air into a set of combustion chambers or "combustors" ringed around the
engine. The flow of air went through the combustors from
back to front, with such a "reverse flow" arrangement
reducing the length of the engine. These engines had only the
broadest resemblance to a modern military turbojet engine,
but the same design concepts would not be out of place in a
modern helicopter turboshaft engine.
Rolls-Royce then reworked the design to feature straightthrough air flow through the combustors and better fuel and
oil systems, resulting in the "Derwent I", providing 2,000 lbf
thrust. The Derwent was refined in various versions up to the
Mark IV, which provided 2,450 lbf thrust.
Stanley Hooker, who had been in charge of the Rolls-Royce design team that refined the Derwent,
visited the US in the spring of 1944 and found that General Electric was developing two turbojet
engines with thrust ratings of 4,000 lbf or higher. Hooker, realizing that the British had been
thinking small, went back to Britain and initiated a fast-track project to build a new, much more
powerful centrifugal-flow engine. The result was the "RB.41 Nene", which was first bench-tested in
October 1944 and provided 5,000 lbf thrust. The Nene was the world's most powerful engine at the
time, and it was also simple, cheap, and reliable. The Nene was manufactured in large numbers,
with versions made in Canada, Australia, France, the US, and the USSR.
The Nene was such a good engine that
Rolls-Royce decided to build a scaleddown version, which was designated
the "Derwent 5" though it had little
direct relationship to earlier Derwent
marks. The Derwent 5 was first
bench-tested in June 1945, with the
test engine providing 2,650 lbf thrust.
In the meantime, since early 1941 de
Havilland had been working on their
own centrifugal-flow turbojet engine,
derived from earlier Whittle patents
and not the W.1 design. The result was the de Havilland "Halford H.1", which was first bench-tested
in April 1942. By late 1943, the H.1 had been refined into the "Goblin" engine, which provided 2,300
lbf thrust and would power the de Havilland Vampire fighter.
British jet engine development was following yet another parallel track at the time. As far back as
1939, Metropolitan-Vickers ("MetroVic"), a Manchester firm that specialized in steam turbines, was
working on what would become the first British "axial-flow" turbojet engine, a design that was
almost entirely unlike the centrifugal-flow engines being developed by Whittle and others. Such
axial-flow engines featured sets or "stages" of fan blades arranged around a central axle,
compressing air into a combustion chamber, which was followed by another set of fan blades that
kept the axle spinning. The axial-flow turbojet would prove to be the way of the future for highspeed combat aircraft, though the centrifugal-flow engine would become the basis for modern
helicopter turboshaft engines.
Specifications for the Gloster E28
Length: 25 ft 4 in
Wingspan: 29 ft
Height: 8 ft 10 in
Wing area: 146 ft²
Airfoil: G.W.2-section
Empty weight: 2,886 lb
Loaded weight: 3,748 lb
Powerplant: 1× Power Jets W.1
turbojet, 860 lbf
Fuel capacity: 81 gallons
Performance
Max speed: 338 mph at 10,000 ft
Range: 410 mi
Endurance: 56 minutes
Service ceiling: 32,000 ft
Rate of climb: 1,063 ft/min
Thrust/weight: 0.21
Armament
Guns: None fitted but provision
for
four 0.303 in (7.7 mm) Browning
machine guns
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