|Preserved Power Jets W.1 at the Science Museum (London)|
|First run||14 December 1940|
|Major applications||Gloster E.28/39|
|Developed into||General Electric J31|
The Power Jets W.1 (sometimes called the Whittle W.1) was a British turbojet engine designed by Frank Whittle and Power Jets (Research and Development) Ltd. The W.1 was built under contract by British Thomson-Houston (BTH) in the early 1940s. It is notable as being the first British jet engine to fly, powering the Gloster E.28/39 on its maiden flight at RAF Cranwell on 15 May 1941.
After a period of indifference, in June 1939 a demonstration of the Power Jets WU was made before a delegation of the Air Ministry, notably Dr Pye, Director of Scientific Research. The demonstration was so successful that the Ministry quickly arranged to buy the engine to give Power Jets working capital, lending it back to them for testing. At the same time, a contract was placed for a "flight engine", the W.1. The design used a simple double-sided centrifugal compressor, reverse-flow combustion chambers and a water-cooled axial-flow turbine section; this was later modified to use air-cooling. The turbine blades were of Firth-Vickers Rex 78, a stainless steel developed under Dr. W. H Hatfield.
As development of the new design dragged on, it was decided to build a test unit "early engine" using any components that were deemed unairworthy along with test items. This was assembled to become the one-off W.1X.This officially unairworthy unit powered the Gloster E.28/39 on a short 'hop' during taxiing trials in April 1941, with flight trials taking place a month later with a definitive W.1 engine.
After a visit to England in 1941, General Henry H. Arnold arranged for a W.1 to be shipped to the U.S. This became the prototype of the General Electric I-16 and by April 1943 had been developed to produce 1,650 pounds force (750 kgf).
The Gloster E.28/39 and the Power Jets W.1 engine that powered it are both on public display at the Science Museum (London).
Data from Jane's
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