History of the Jet Engine

Topics: Jet engine, Turbofan, Frank Whittle Pages: 5 (1841 words) Published: September 25, 2008
Evolution of the Jet Engine

Thought the course of time man has constantly sought to better both himself and mankind through creation and invention. From the first time a caveman rubbed to sticks together and discovered fire to the design and development of the Saturn 5 rocket which propelled by that same fire carried man from the earth to the moon. One can argue over whether on not this invention or that was the greatest. I intend to focus my attention on evolution of just one of those technologies the jet engine, and show the importance of its impact in our world. In the early 1920’s, new technology was being developed to enable aircraft to fly higher and faster. This early development of aircraft technology was hindered by the depression until World War II pulled the United States out of economic hardship. Jet engine design has been critical in keeping aircraft in line with other countries’ developing technology. All over the world, countries were racing to be the first with a jet engine powered aircraft. During World War II the quest for air superiority resulted in the need for better, faster aircraft. As a result, the jet engine was created. A simple jet engine can be described as a device that compresses large amounts of high velocity air which mixes with fuel, ignites, and then is propelled out the aft end of the aircraft. Able to keep itself going once started, the jet engine is truly a marvel of the twentieth century.

Two people are credited with this wonderful invention: Dr. Hans von Ohain (German) and Sir Frank Whittle (British). Ohain actually created the first engine while Whittle was the first to acquire a patent in 1930. However, Ohain’s jet was the first to fly in 1939, while Whittle was able to get his in the air in 1941. Ohain’s jet engine was tested in a lab in Sep. 1937 and first tested on a plane developed by Ernst Heinkel the Heinkel He178 on Aug. 27th, 1939. The Firm, Power Jets Ltd., got a contract for Whittle’s engine, the W1, July 7th, 1939. The Maiden flight was on May 15th, 1941 with pilot Lieutenant P. E. G. Sayer flying the craft, the Gloster E28/39. The craft flew at roughly 400 mph and the engine produced 1000lbs. of thrust.

After a few advances in design, the Germans came up with an air superiority jet: the Messerschmitt Me 262 powered by the Jumo 004B engine. This engine was created by Dr. Anselm Franz of the Junkers Engine Company. At the end of WW II however, the plane, the company’s factories, and the technology were seized by the allies and aided those countries in the development of their own weapons The first jet engines in America were crafted after Whittle’s design. General Electric created the first American made engines. However, a second company, Westinghouse Corporation, built a model that included an axial compressor and annular combustion chamber, which is still the basic design today. At first these engines were used solely in fighter craft but were later introduced into spy planes and bombers and eventually commercial airliner. One type of engine was not sufficient for all types of planes and so they modified the basic design and created the Pulse jet, the Ram jet, and the Turbine jet. The first two are reserved for the military while the Turbine Jet is used commercially, as it is a good balance of cost and speed. The Pulse jet is essentially a tube with valves at one end through which the fuel and air mixture is let in and allowed to combust, which forces the valves at the front end closed, and subsequently forces the mixture out the tail end. The valves cycle at a rapid rate allows the equivalent of one continuous combustion cycle. The Ram Jet is the simplest of all jet engines and is essentially a pipe constricted at the middle with two open ends with a fuel injector placed in the middle. The air is taken in the front, compressed by the narrowing of the pipe, mixed with fuel and ignited, and the pressure of the compressed air behind...
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