Book Reviews 3
German Jet Engine and
Hardbound, 296 pages
Reviewed by Douglas Culy
A. L. Kay’s book on German turbine engines is a major addition to the literature on German engines. Not only does he cover the jet engines we already knew about in more detail than any other author this reviewer has read, but he also reveals German work on automotive, marine, and industrial engines. This seldom-mentioned additional engine development should not be surprising, since such work was also going in other countries. There are nine sections of discussion:
Introduction – Pre 1930 work, government procurement organization, methods of procurement, and definition of the engine type (qualification) test.
Gas Turbines for Aviation – turbojets, turboprops, and turbofans by Heinkel, Junkers, BMW, Daimler Benz, and Porsche are covered, with many photos not seen before. There also many sketches of engine component details, and coverage of all engines known to have been studied, even if not built and run.
Gas Turbines for Land Traction – Porsche studied a gas generator with adjacent and remote power turbine and with and without staged combustion and recuperation. Two forms of these turboshaft engines were in detail design at the end of WW2, and cross-sections are presented.
Marine Gas Turbine Units – Traditional marine engine builders Brukner-Canis, Blohm and Voss, and MAN were contracted to design and build gas turbine engines for fast patrol boats and larger ships. Some of these reached the hardware stage, at least one was run, and component hardware for others had been fabricated. Cross-sections are presented.
Gas Turbines for Industry – Brown Boveri built and Thyssen Steel operated an experimental constant-volume (pulsed flow) engine to run a generator. Brown Boveri also built and operated combined conventional steam and gas turbine units for generating electricity, steam, and blast furnace gases. MAN adapted its work on the marine turbine, adding waste heat recovery, for power generation. Studies (only) were carried out by several other builders, including AEG (German General Electric).
Gas Turbine Research and Development – Compressor, combustor, turbine, and system development was carried out by many research organizations in Germany. These efforts and a free-piston barrel engine (a picture is included) are discussed.
The Jet Helicopter – The Doblehoff helicopter with tipjets on the rotor blades was built and flown. It is discussed and illustrated.
Pulsejets for Aviation – Both the Argus and Schmidt pulsejet engines are discussed in detail, with photos and drawings; and airframes tested with pulsejet engines, in addition to the V-1, are discussed and illustrated.
Ramjets for Aviation – Ramjet engines from Walter, Trommsdorf, Sanger, Focke-Wulf (Pabst), and BMW are discussed and pictured, including one with intercontinental capability.
German Jet Engine and Gas Turbine Development 1930-1945 is a very satisfying book and well worth its price. As typically occurs, there are a few places where the author’s data is different from that presented in other books. This reviewer will leave it to the reader to judge those differences.
Me 262 Volume One
Reviewed by Douglas Culy
The great airplanes have many books written about them. This writer has six major works on the Messerschmitt 262, and each has something a little different to say. Smith and Creek’s book has something of particular interest to engine history buffs, which is that the three jet engines that influenced the design of the Me 262 are very well covered (BMW P3304, BMW P3302 (003), and Jumo 004). The BMW 003A, a different engine from the P3302, which flew in later Me 262 development aircraft, is also discussed, although it did not influence the airframe design. In fact, this book has the most detailed coverage of the BMW P3304 (the one that never ran) that this writer has seen in any book on German jet engine development. Specifically, it gives the size of the engines and well illustrates the installation of each of these successively larger engines in their nacelles and in the also-evolving wing of the Me 262. Further, this book has many photos of wind-tunnel models that were prepared to evaluate the several stages of airframe design that began with what looks like a straight-wing Me 309 derivative or cousin and ended with the all-new swept-wing fighter that was produced.
This volume covers development of the airplane, with discussion of the first 17 prototypes and the initial production methods. Chapter headings are:
1. The Skull of a Genius
2. Some Thought My Ideas Were Pure Fantasy
3. A Fever of Expectation
4. An Unimaginable Lead
5. Projected Me 262 Developments
6. I’m Not Interested In This Aircraft As A Fighter
7. We Need the Me 262 More Than Anything Else
Appendix. 1. Camouflage and Markings
Appendix. 2. Me 262 Prototype Flights
Appendix. 3. German Reaction Engine Designation System
Appendix. 4. Messerschmitt Personalities and Company Organization
Me 262 Volume One is a very satisfying book, and well worth its price. Unfortunately, Volume Two is unavailable, and Volume One and Volume Three may not be on the shelves much longer. Maybe if we all write to the publisher (now Ian Allan Publishing in England), they might reissue the books.
Luftwaffe Secret Projects
Hardbound 144 pages
Reviewed by Doug Culy
Luftwaffe Secret Projects – Strategic Bombers 1935-1945 begins each chapter with biographies of designers and Luftwaffe leaders in the procurement departments. There are many excellent photographs, line drawings, and color illustrations of actual aircraft, formal projects not completed, and designers’ ideas. The latter border on the fantastic, but are supplemented with convincing discussion, including which engines were planned for that aircraft. In the Appendices contain photos of wartime wind-tunnel test facilities, and 24 very clear photos of advanced piston and jet engines. The piston engine photos are usually of the aft end, showing the supercharger and turbocharger installations. There are also photos and drawings of guided missiles.
When examining the book prior to purchase, this writer was initially skeptical, but was pleasantly surprised at the obvious quality and thoroughness of the coverage. Herwig, the principal author, was employed in the RLM during WW2, and later was an aviation historian. It is well worth the list price of US $39.95, and can be had for less from on-line discounters.
Table of Contents
1. Heavy Bomber Development in Germany up until 1945
2. Bomber Projects of the Reichswehr 1926-1933
3. Heavy Bomber Projects 1933-1937
4. Prototypes and Projects in the Bomber-B Program
5. Strategic VLR Reconnaissance Aircraft and Guided Missile Carriers
6. Target New York – Strategic Heavy and Long-Range Bomber Projects 1942 to 1944
7. Long- and Very Long-Range Jet Bomber Projects 1944 to 1945
8. Tactical Bomber Projects 1944 to 1945
9. Strategic Long-Range Flying Boat Projects
10. Allied War Booty
Hans von Ohain - Elegance in Flight
Hardbound, 285 pages
Reviewed by Tom Fey
Hans Joachim Pabst von Ohain designed the first jet engine to successfully power an aircraft (Aug. 27, 1939) and for that reason alone, the biography of Dr. von Ohain, Elegance in Flight, written by Margaret Conner is a valuable addition to the aviation literature. The book nicely chronicles von Ohain’s life before this momentous achievement as well as the subsequent decades of his life until his death from heart failure in 1998.
Born into an affluent military family in Dessau, Germany, von Ohain was interested in many things as he grew up; sailing, cars, etc. Having earned doctoral degree in physics (dissertation: optical microphone) from Georg-August University, Gottingen, Germany, in 1935, von Ohain came to believe that there must be a better way to power aircraft than the noisy, vibrating, heavy, and complicated reciprocating engines of the day. This interest leads to theoretical studies during his graduate and postgraduate years, and eventually the construction of a prototype by his friend/machinist/auto mechanic, Max Hahn. The prototype was unable to run independently, and short of money and resources to continue his work, von Ohain’s professor suggested he try to secure financing from an aircraft manufacturer.
Fortunately, von Ohain and Hahn were hired by aeronautical industrialist Ernst Heinkel in early 1936 to develop a flight-worthy jet engine as soon as possible. The account of von Ohain’s years at Heinkel before and during the war make very interesting reading, and the highlight of the book for me. Funded, goaded, cloaked in secrecy, and micro-managed by Ernst Heinkel himself, the jet engine team lead by von Ohain was tasked with making Heinkel a player in jet aircraft. Hans von Ohain’s degree in physics didn’t completely prepare him for the demands and diverse complexities of metallurgy, manufacturing, material science, and aeronautics, but his gifted intellect and respectful demeanor helped him learn rapidly on the job from a wide-ranging cast of characters at the Heinkel works. The biography is not overly technical with regards to the design and execution of a jet engine, but I found a pleasant amount of detail to keep the reader engaged with the engineering challenges and progress embodied in the Heinkel series of jet engines. There is an appendix with nine pages drawings of the first flight engine, the He3B, and several other jets engines as well.
Like many German experts in the aeronautical and engineering fields, von Ohain was recruited by the US government to come to America after the war to continue his work. Settling first in Alabama, and eventually Ohio, von Ohain used his considerable intelligence, determination, and gentle charisma to advance himself and his programs in government service, rising to the directorship of the Advanced Propulsion Laboratory in Dayton, Ohio. The adaptation to the language, customs, and systems of American life were enjoyable reading.
There are not a lot of other references in the literature that document von Ohain’s life, so it is difficult for me to gauge the accuracy of this biography. The only obvious error I came across was the author stating that Americans were first to orbit Earth (Yuri Gagarin of the USSR was the first human to enter space and to orbit the Earth, both occurring in his pioneering flight on April 12, 1961).
After reading an article about von Ohain in the late 1980s, I was able to contact him by mail to ask a few questions about the first flight engine. The very kind letter I received back from Dr. von Ohain seems to nicely fit the persona described in the book, and remains a prized document in my aeronautical collection.
I very much recommend the book to those interested in the genesis of jet flight, and it makes a nice compliment to the several books written about the British jet pioneer, Sir Frank Whittle. For those wanting additional technical detail and pictures of the German jet engines, I would recommend The First Jet Aircraft by Wolfgang Wagner (Schiffer Publishing, 1998) and German Jet Engines and Gas Turbine Development 1930-1945 by Antony L. Kay (Airlife, 2002).