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Harborough Museum

Jet Engine Model

Jet Engine Model

Frank Whittle Jet Engine Model

On display in Harborough Museum, in the ‘Introduction to the district’ case is a model of a jet engine, invented by Sir Frank Whittle.

Whittle, who was born in Coventry in 1907, was an apprentice in the RAF in 1923 and qualified as a pilot in 1928.
While a cadet, he argued that the fastest airspeeds and longest ranges could be achieved if a plane flies very high, because the air is thinner and less resistant. He suggested that rocket propulsion or propellers driven by gas turbines would be best for this. Whittle went to the Air Ministry, favouring gas turbines for their fuel efficiency, but he patented the idea himself after they turned him down.

A model of Sir Frank Whittle's Jet Engine
The model of Whittle’s Jet Engine, on display in Harborough Museum

Lutterworth and the Gloster

In 1936, Whittle secured financial and RAF backing, and founded Power Jets Ltd in Rugby. There, he began constructing a test engine, which – after a false start – successfully completed its first flight in 1941.
The engine for the UK’s first jet aeroplane, the Gloster E.28/39 (also referred to as the Gloster Whittle), was made in Lutterworth. A memorial statue of the aircraft can be seen on the Whittle Roundabout just south of the town, to celebrate the Lutterworth’s aeronautical heritage.

A Gloster plane taking off at Farnborough
Squadron Leader J. Moloney takes off for a test flight in the Gloster E.28/39, Farnborough, 1941. © IWM (CH 14832A)


Flying and religious heritage

In recognition of the exciting progress to technology made in Lutterworth, there is a lot more information about Frank Whittle at Lutterworth Museum. Visit their website to find out and more and the other aspects of Lutterworth’s heritage celebrated in the museum. Make sure you read our post about John Wycliffe who was rector at St Mary’s church, Lutterworth to find out more about the town.

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