Gloster-Whittle E 28/39 jet aircraft engine, 1941-1944.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Close-up of manifolds and combustion chambers. Sir Frank Whittle (1907-1996) had the idea for jet propulsion whilst writing a thesis on 'Future Developments in Aircraft Design' at the Royal Air Force College, Cranwell where he was a cadet. Power Jets Ltd was formed with the backing of City bankers and the Air Ministry, and Whittle worked as the chief engineer for the company. Rolls Royce later took over the project and in July 1944 the first British jet, the Gloster Meteor, entered service and was used in action against the V1 flying bombs.