born 1st June 1907, Earlsdon, Coventry, UK
died 9th August 1996, Columbia, Maryland, USA
Pdf download written by Professor William Webb
RAF officer Frank Whittle is widely thought of as the 'father' of jet propulsion. His single-minded pursuit of a workable jet engine sped up its development during World War II. Although not the only engineer who worked on jet engines, many commemorations have been set up to him and he is widely remembered for his work.
Whittle was not only very clever but very determined too, pushing forward where others may have given up. With financial backing, the company he is associated with, Power Jets, was formed in 1936 — with Whittle working on a prototype. The outbreak of war brought Air Ministry backing and the opportunity to realise the project. Whittle's eventual design used a 'centrifugal' compressor where the compressed air was thrown radially outwards from the blades of the compressor unit. Although not the engine we use today, its development was influential.
Professor William Webb has written a short life-history of Frank Whittle and we provide it here for download, courtesy of Professor Webb and the Royal Academy of Engineering. The illustrations have been sourced by the author and remain the copyright of their creators.
Sir Frank Whittle: A short life-history
, by Professor William Webb
PDF download 700k
portrait of Frank Whittle courtesy the Whittle family