Frank Whittle – Father of The Jet Engine


Sir Frank Whittle (June 1, 1907 – August 9, 1996), British inventor, engineer, Royal Air Force officer.

 He is considered to be the father of the jet engine. The person who first realized that the gas turbine could be used as a jet engine in airplanes was British aviator and engineer (born 1907) Frank Whittle. Whittle, who was interested in flying model airplanes as a young child, studied at Leamington College in Warwickshire.

Frank Whittle
Frank Whittle pictures – source: wikipedia-reinshaw

He joined the Royal Air Force (RAF) at the age of 16. Whittle, accepted as a student at the RAF College in Cranwell in 1926, learned to fly and soon became a pilot. While at Cranwell he began to think about the use of jet propulsion in aircraft. At that time, all aircraft had propellers, and the propellers were driven by piston engines similar to those in other motor vehicles.


The level of speed and altitude achievable with a propeller plane was limited. Whittle set about searching for a more effective propulsion system. He thought that with the help of a gas turbine a propeller system located near the air intake in front of the engine could be rotated. The incoming air would be compressed by the propeller and fed into a combustion chamber from there; A liquid fuel such as kerosene would be sprayed into the combustion chamber and the compressed air-fuel mixture would be burned there. The compressed air would thus warm and expand, spraying out of the back of the combustion chamber, hitting the turbine blades and spinning the blades. The hot gases leaving the turbine would be ejected from the rear in the form of a powerful jet, thereby creating a forward thrust.


Whittle patented the first gas turbine engine in 1930. He entered Cambridge University in 1934 and studied mechanical sciences. During the three years he spent here, he acquired the necessary knowledge to put his thoughts into practice. Whitle soon formed a company to develop its engines, with some of his friends who supported him financially. The first gas turbine engine produced by the company was tested on the ground in April 1937.

Frank Whittle
Frank Whittle, source: frankwhittle.co.uk/


In 1939 With the outbreak of World War II, the British government became interested in Whittle’s work, and a special aircraft type was developed. Equipped with the Whittle engine and called the Gloster E28 / 39. This aircraft took off on 15 May 1941 and entered service in the RAF in 1944. But the real developments in the field of turbine jet engines happened after World War II.

F. Whittle, source: historyNet


F. Whittle, who retired from the RAF in 1948, same year he was awarded the title of “sir” for his achievements. Whittle, who has received various awards from other science organizations and the USA, has worked as a consultant for some aviation organizations. In 1977 he became a research professor at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis (Maryland).

Sir Frank Whittle (June 1, 1907 – August 9, 1996).

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