The Development of Jet and Turbine Aero Engines

By Kissel, Will | Air & Space Power Journal, Fall 2008 | Go to article overview

The Development of Jet and Turbine Aero Engines


Kissel, Will, Air & Space Power Journal


The Development of Jet and Turbine Aero Engines, 4th ed., by Bill Gunston. Haynes North America (http:/www.haynes.com), 861 Lawrence Drive, Newbury Park, California 91320,2006, 254 pages, $22.95 (softcover).

As the title suggests, The Development of Jet and Turbine Aero Engines offers a historical look at turbine and other jet-type engines such as rocket, pulsejet, and ramjet. The primary focus, however, is on gas turbines, including turbojet, turbofan, turboshaft, and turboprop types. As in author Bill Gunston's similar book on reciprocating engines, The Development of Piston Aero Engines, this book is divided into two parts. The first ("How Gas Turbines Work") describes operating principles, function and configuration of major components, and materials used in construction. The second ("The Historical Story") starts with the pioneers (long before Frank Whittle and Hans von Ohain, by the way) and characterizes the development of all jet and turbine engines up to the present with update chapters for each edition.

Though technical, part 1 is not as dense as a textbook. The author's straightforward style should not be intimidating to anybody interested in the subject. In the introduction, Gunston suggests that "if the casual reader does find it heavy going, skip it and read Part II." Those who do so will miss all the fun. Every component-from the compressor to the combustor, turbine, jet pipe, nozzle, and auxiliaries-went through its own evolution of improvement to get to an integrated machine that actually worked. Moving from that point (with really abysmal pressure ratios) to the mechanical masterpieces of today makes for a fascinating trip that no reader wants to miss. I've been in the jet-engine test business for 27 years, so descriptions of early test methods and the iterative process of development are especially interesting to me, but every chapter is full of challenges that the engineers, designers, and craftsmen met and solved, one at a time. Like any other great enterprise, the development of turbine engines is really a story about people making things happen, and the author tells their story well. …

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