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The U.K. develops the gas turbine significantly quicker

Zoo Tycoon

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Inspired by the “What if the gas turbine hadn’t happened“ I always thought of a different angle. This considers what would have happened if just two men had a different mindset at just one meeting?

Ref “Genesis of the Jet” John Golley.
This book documents Frank Whittle struggle to develop the jet engine. It records that in approx Oct/Nov 1929, Frank, aged just 22 gets a personal meeting with Mr W L Tweedie RAE Director of Engine Development and Mr A A Griffith RAE Director of Research. In summary, the meeting doesn’t go well for Frank, both the seniors have a different agenda’s and arrogantly dismiss the youngster. From the following chapters it’s clear that this delays the U.K. development effort by at least 5 years. Note although a few others before Frank might have drawn some sketches, or even filed patents, history proved that Frank had the engineering/mathematical/organisational skills to develop the hardware;- it was getting the money and resources that took the time.

So What if the Tweedie/Griffith meeting had embraced Franks invention and thrown the RAE behind it...... what would have happened next?

Let me give you an idea where this could have gone;-.
In early 1930, Frank leads a small team of engineers hand picked at the RAE. Progress is dictated by materials development so is initially slow. Gradually the break throughs occur and in great secrecy an engine roars into life in Sept 1934. Initially aimed as surprise entry in the Schindler races, secrecy is maintained and a certain Reggie Mitchel is asked to produce a suitable airframe, the S-10. By the time the first S-10 prototype is coming together events in Europe are turning for the worst so the military take over the program, developing a military version calling it the Jetfire. Chamberling is keen to avoid an arms race with German so will only accept the Jetfire development continues in unprecedented secrecy, so the flight testing is undertaken at Cold Bay in Canada..... a kinda 1930’s Groom lake. In Oct 1936 the S10 flies (with convention LG), followed by the first Jetfire in Feb 1937. The development is rapid and Cold Lake even works up the first squadrons. In the summer of 1939 the U.K. announces the existence of Jetfire squadrons within the home defence. Some of these deploy to Poland and France. In September 1939 Goering tells Hitler his Luftwaffe is obsolete and in incapable of supporting his invasion plans.

I’ll stop there. Other versions of 1930 onwards are welcome.
 

Calum Douglas

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One could make a slight alteration to that, which is what if Whittle had outlined an Axial rather than a Centrifugal turbojet. Griffith turned out to be a proponent of the former, and its "possible" that if you change whittles layout, the rest of it "might" have fallen into place as you outline more easily.

A very good overview of these early moments is given by Frank Armstrong in this paper from May this year. Frank is "somewhat" of an authority having managed the NGTE ! :) (the National Gas Turbine Establishment, which was once I think the most advanced ground turbojet test facility in Europe).

Note that Frank attributes the first work to Griffith, in 1926, but Griffiths axial system still used a propellor... what it really seems to have needed was a merging of Griffiths axial turbine with Whittles ditching the propellor. Although I suppose there are an infinite number of scenarios how this might have propogated.

 
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Siberia

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Another alternative is to simply have O. T. Falk & Partners raise the full amount of investment capital that they had originally promised. Extra resources means that Power Jets can run a number of research engines so if something goes bang you don't have dead time unlike if you just have one, or you can try out different modifications and new ideas at the same time rather than sequentially, potentially speeding development.
 
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Hood

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Well I guess that is the nub of this AH. Where does the production impetus come from?
Whittle at the RAE is another boffin like Griffith, bogged down in experimental science making bench test models for years but not actually getting anywhere.
If Whittle is tied up in red tape down at the RAE and can't form Power Jets then you need to persuade Armstrong Siddeley, Bristol, Napier or Rolls-Royce to get on board and incorporate his ideas and results into a production engine. Doubtless they will have different ideas on how to go about it. No good trying to leave it to the steam turbine boys who deal in massive steel structures.

Then you have to have cross-pollination of ideas so that the airframe designers think "I want that it my plane." Heinkel had a head start because he had the powerplants and airframes close together and could experiment with cutting-edge technology.
I agree a working prototype a few years earlier might have stimulated industry interest, although re-armament contracts for piston engines are lucrative business to distract attention from tinkering with prototypes. Given how long the final generation piston engines took to prefect and get into service, its hard to see an operational Whittle jet much sooner than 1942-43.
 

Apophenia

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Just have Whittle put big 'Steampunk' rivets on his 1929 sketches. As the son of a sci-fi writer, Alan Griffith would get it ;)

More seriously, what if the RAE were to pursue both Griffith and Whittle designs? Hayne Constant (as resident supercharger specialist) oversees refinement of Griffith's axial type as a turbine-propeller drive for bombers, and Whittle's centrifugal engine as a pure turbojet for fighter aircraft.

This may be a bit out there but, instead of working with existing aero-engine builders, the RAE might turn to those with existing turbine experience - eg: Parsons Marine Steam Turbine Company with production of Whittle engines at their Turbinia Works at Wallsend. To facilitate flight testing, a paved airstrip - the secretive RAF Middleton St George - is constructed east of Darlington.

... flight testing is undertaken at Cold Bay in Canada...

A minor point: RCAF Station Cold Lake won't exist for almost another two decades after the Jetfire is conceived (construction at Medley, AB started in 1952, with Cold Lake operations commencing in the Spring of 1954).
 

Grey Havoc

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With regards as to the possible second and third order effects of such a POD, what about the Conqueror heavy tank ending up with a gas turbine engine?
 

SleeperService2

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One could make a slight alteration to that, which is what if Whittle had outlined an Axial rather than a Centrifugal turbojet. Griffith turned out to be a proponent of the former, and its "possible" that if you change whittles layout, the rest of it "might" have fallen into place as you outline more easily.

...Note that Frank attributes the first work to Griffith, in 1926, but Griffiths axial system still used a propellor... what it really seems to have needed was a merging of Griffiths axial turbine with Whittles ditching the propellor. Although I suppose there are an infinite number of scenarios how this might have propogated.

There are many ways it could have gone but perhaps building the Trent turboprop would have attracted attention? Mounted on something like a Douglas DC-2 or a Boeing 247-D both familiar after the MacRobertson Trophy Air Race of 1934 the Air Ministry or one of the plane companies would have been made to sit up and take note. That would still let @zoo tycoon 's Jetfires happen early enough to make a difference. Turboprop DC-3s well before WW2 would have been amazing, the installed base would also fuel rapid development of the next generation axial flow engines which would have enabled jet fighters to evolve rapidly too. Imagine an RAF squadron in say 1935 being told their brand new Gloster Gauntlets were to be replaced and you'll be off to Canada for a while. OK Chaps.

With regards as to the possible second and third order effects of such a POD, what about the Conqueror heavy tank ending up with a gas turbine engine?

You'd be wanting to look at this for an idea then CLICK HERE there's stuff on HERE AS WELL too but their server is down.
 
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alertken

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The metallurgy behind Hornets and Wasps produced dependable, affordable engines. The wonder is not that (today: Venture Capital) House Falks did not stump up more £ so PJ could run more specimens, but is that a young, uncommercial RAF officer persuaded them to risk a dime (did they think his employer would not enforce ownership of anything he produced while he was on their dime?). Criticism should not be of senior Scientific Civil Servants being grumpy about the 22 year-old upstart, but that he got any attention at all. Because in the 1920s no-one was offering kerosene, very hi-temp, back end metals. It needed Lucas, Ricardo, Shell (and the basic metals folk, Doncaster's, HDA et al) to take an interest. And they all knew that in UK we had decided that only ASM/Bristol/Napier/RR knew how to do Big Power - and that not very well.

I find the wonder to be that from Falk's early runs, A.M./RAE/the support industry came on board so rapidly. A cause of that was the deliberate decision by...those grumpy public servants to keep the new Big Thing as far away from the piston industry as they could, as long as they could. US did exactly the same thing, for the same 2 reasons: a) we needed pistoneers to do quicker and better what they already knew - UK long hunted Hypers; the Wiki for R-2800 has: they got everything right...but not upfront, as early B-29 crews discovered;
and b) as soon as they would get their hands on gyres they would design the simplicity out of it. RR et al were invested and had no wish to re-educate.

Should we remind ourselves how militarily useless, economically impractical were the first jet-powered types? Sea Fury and Mustang could survive v. Meteor/MiG-15 just by teasing them to bingo! fuel, Convairliners sold well on reliability/economy until Dart/Viscount matured.

I am with Hood/#4: earliest chance, with strongest following wind, for deployed turbines was c.1943.
 
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Hood

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Slight correction Ken, the B-29 used the R-3350 not the R-2800.

But agreed the jets were entrusted to new producers in the main, the main engine firms had their hands full with piston engines which needed to be perfected for production.
Saying that, jet production of the Whittle types was messy and ended up having to be concentrated in the hands of the aero engine companies, Vauxhall, Rover and Vickers-Metropolitan could not quite meet the required demands and everything - as usual - got political. de Havilland got Halford on board, without the Goblin is questionable whether he might have remained a freelance or gone in deeper with Napier instead despite his long connections with de Havilland.

The Meteor had a horrendous safety record, it killed off 450 pilots in peacetime, largely due to its poor asymmetric thrust handling. With wartime and highly rudimentary conversion training (kick the tires and light the fires just about covering it) it might have been pretty hairy for some units. Luckily few (any?) Meteor pilots ever had to bring their aircraft in on one engine having been riddled with bullets.
 

SleeperService2

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@alertken I see the points you are making and I find myself nodding at most. @Hood I totally agree with your comments about the Meteor's death toll. A friend was looking into the Sea Vixen last year and that's nearly as bad proportionally.

However I was offering my suggestion of Trent engines tested on an airliner as a turboprop precursor to the pure jet engine. The load carrying would allow contemporary testing equipment to be carried and operated easily and the DC-2 (as did the DC-3) had an excellent glide ratio so the risk would be much reduced. As for the needed technology maturing well in the run up to WW2 the Germans went from starting after Whittles patents were available to the first jet flight, had a workable jet engine soon afterwards and, if the Inconel requirements had been met they would have been in service much faster than they did. Especially if they started with the He 280 (first flight 1940).
May we all be Thankful that the vital materials were withheld, Messerschmitt got the aircraft contract, and when the German jets arrived the engines were virtually identical to those of 1940.
Once motivated to desire something the money WILL always be found. In fact that ability is why governments don't have to balance the books like you or I do, they literally loan a sum created out of thin air. Money Trees aren't needed.
 

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