WHITTLE, Sir Frank, letters, autographs, documents, manuscripts

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Two pioneers of jet aviation

WHITTLE, Sir Frank (1907-1996). Aeronautical engineer and inventor of the jet engine.

Jet The Story of a Pioneer, Frederick Muller Ltd, 1953, first edition, blue cloth, without dust jacket. Inscribed and signed on the free front endpaper to George Carter, 24 November 1953.

A remarkable association copy of considerable significance - George Carter (1889-1969) was the designer of the first aircraft which flew with Whittle's jet engine in 1941. The inscription reads:

'To George Carter / as a small memento / of our joint efforts / with very best wishes from / Frank Whittle / Coppleston Farm / Dunsford / Nr Exeter / 24 November 1953.'

[Wilfred] George Carter (1889-1969) was the chief engineer of the Gloster Aircraft Company (formerly Gloucestershire) from 1937 and is principally remembered as the designer of the experimental aircraft, number E28/39, to carry Frank Whittle's jet engine, although he had already designed 'a string of innovative aircraft, not just for Gloster but for Sopwith, Hawker, Shorts, de Havilland and Avro too' [Jet Pioneers, Gloster and the Birth of the Jet Engine, by Tim Kershaw, which gives the only comprehensive account of Carter's life and career]. The E28/39 was the first British and Allied jet aircraft to fly when it left the ground (unofficially) at Brockworth in Gloucestershire on 8 April 1941; the first official flight following at RAF Cranwell a week later. Carter went on to design the twin-engined Gloster Meteor, the first Allied operational jet aircraft of the Second World War and the Javelin, Gloster's last aircraft to enter production.

'Whittle's achievement as the inventor and developer of the jet engine has overshadowed that of the man who designed the airframe which first took Whittle's invention into the skies. It has been suggested that any of a number of designers could have come up with something suitable, but Carter's achievement was greater than that. The recognition he has received has been modest, in keeping with his character. ... His honours were few and his fame slight. He deserves more.' [Jet Pioneers, p. 65]

This is what Whittle himself says of the aircraft in the present book:

'... I saw the E.28 purely as an experimental aeroplane which was not going into production ... Nevertheless, these remarks should not be taken as belittling a beautiful little aeroplane. Though today it has an honoured place in the Science Museum at South Kensington, it scarcely looks like a museum piece! It is still, in my opinion, one of the most handsome aircraft that has ever been made. George Carter and the Gloster team have every reason to be proud of their handiwork. ...'
[p. 150]

£1100 [No: 25974]
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