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Frank Whittle: Invention of the Jet (Revolutions in Science) Hardcover – 4 Mar 2004

4.0 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Icon; 1st edition (4 Mar. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1840465387
  • ISBN-13: 978-1840465389
  • Product Dimensions: 11.8 x 2.4 x 18.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 859,388 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"All students of the jet story should have this important book." -- Navigator

"Provides a different, and refreshingly balanced historical perspective … Fascinating." -- Flight International

"Read it to learn what really happened" -- Guardian

Read it [and] learn more about what really happened. -- Guardian, June 3, 2004


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Format: Hardcover
At last someone has got past the usual cliches about the invention of the jet engine. This convincing account shows how shaky the jet programme really was during the war. I was also intrigued to see how persistently Whittle seemed to have 'bitten the hand that fed him' and brought about much of his own misfortune.
The author has a good clear style and puts across technical issues with unusual ability. My only criticism is that this is quite a short book on a fascinating topic. I wish it had been longer.
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A Kid's Review on 16 Dec. 2010
Format: Hardcover
I bought this book at the same time as Not Much of an Engineer by Sir Stanley Hooker. Each gives some account of the early development of the jet engine in England. I regard my purchase of this small volume as something of a waste of money. It is written in a rather dry manner and seems to be an attempt at myth-busting. Perhaps there are some myths, but I recommend the other book as being far more interesting and written by one who was himself something of a genius and knew Whittle personally, with a sound grasp of the politics behind the development of the jet engine.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The back of this book gives an impression that it is about the development of the jet engine. Regrettable, with the exeption of some photos, and some interspersed minor stuff, it is mostly about Frank Whittle and the bureaucratic "battle" - that is probably more famous than the development of the jet engine itself. The book gives some very good reasons that it was decided to do it in other ways than what Frank Whittle wanted, with regards to development and production of the engine. And the book has a role to play in this regard. But as a book of the development of the engine itself it is disappointing. Due to the fame of this bureaucratic 'battle' a really good book about the technical challenges will probably never be written. But the book is well enough written.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The theme is a corrective on earlier Whittle narratives that see him as unfairly treated by the British Government. The Whittle / Power Jets story is unpicked to demonstrate that Whittle received significant support for his jet engine project and had champions in Government at a time when speculative technology developments were not a priority. Worse, Whittle's colleagues at Power Jets quarreled with their Government minders, gradually eroding their goodwill and support. Adding insult to injury, Whittle had a reputation for irascibility, at one time throwing a chair at a colleague, then having a nervous breakdown. This would have contributed to pigeon-holing him in the minds of his Government minders.

It is easy therefore to see Whittle and his technologist team as not unlike spoilt children, and such was the conclusion in Government: all this bad blood was in the desperate context of the country urgently scaling its aircraft and conventional piston engine production to counter the Luftwaffe. In the event the scramble demanded all its resources and more. Some production was eventually outsourced to the USA and such was the scale of the war effort, the country ended deeply in debt to the USA, making its final payment, plus interest on the war loan, in 2006 (see Richard Davenport-Hines: Universal Man). In that light, Whittle and his colleagues, receiving generous Government support and funding, were misbehaving.

Whilst the evidence is clearly laid out the interpretation invites challenge, not least when cross-referenced with other versions of the story: Whittle's intellectual property was handed over to the competition and Power Jets was indisputably under-resourced from the start, stuck with a single-track development programme that ran into difficulties.
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