Jet pioneers – gloster and the birth of the jet age

Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology

ISSN: 0002-2667

Article publication date: 1 October 2004




Kershaw, T. (2004), "Jet pioneers – gloster and the birth of the jet age", Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology, Vol. 76 No. 5.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Jet pioneers – gloster and the birth of the jet age

Jet pioneers – gloster and the birth of the jet age

Keywords: Aircraft, UK, History

In April 1941 Britain's first jet left the ground at a grass airfield 4mile from Gloucester Cathedral. It was the start of a revolution in aeronautics, both military and civilian. During the 1940s Britain's first-ever jet aircraft, its first jet fighter in squadron service and the first jet to hold the world air-speed record were all designed, built and first flown in Gloucestershire.

The story of Frank Whittle's invention and dogged development of the jet engine is well known. But the account of how his invention was put into the air has never been fully told. Jet pioneers tells the story of how the men and women of the Gloster Aircraft Company made Whittle's engine fly.

The foreword is by Eric Brown CBE DSC AFC, the last man living of all those who flew the E28/39.

In the first chapter the question is asked, why Gloster? The short answer is that it was George Carter's innovative proposal for a heavily armed fighter to specification F18/37 which first attracted Whittle to the gloster Aircraft Company when he and the Air Ministry were looking for projects which might be suitable for flight testing the new jet engine. The chapter also provides the reader with a compreheive outline of the history of the Gloster Aircraft Company.

Chapter 4 presents the reader with a fascinating account of the E28/39s first test flight at Cranwell, on 15 May 1941. The test pilot was Jerry Sayer, his deputy Michael Daunt took the only known photograph, there was no official photographer present. The photograph can been seen at the bottom of page 41.

Jet pioneers is illustrated with many previously unpublished pictures including secret photographs taken during construction, and the first cutaway drawing of Britain's first jet. It also includes the first biographical account of George Carter, the aircraft's designer. Many eyewitness accounts appear in this fascinating examination of one of the 20th century's most important inventions.

Tim Kershaw is the former chairman and current committee member of the Jet Age Museum. After a career in technical and corporate PR, he became a professional architectural model maker. He lives near Tewkesbury.

Details available from: Sutton Publishing Ltd. Tel:+44 (0) 1453 732423; Web site:

Tim Kershaw

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