posted on Dec, 3 2006 @ 06:38 AM
It is fairly well known that Frank Whittle patented the jet engine in 1930 but was met by a tidal wave of indifference from the British authorities.
What is less well known is that Hans von Ohain met with similar sentiments in Germany, the 1939 flight of the He 178 often being mistakenly seen as a
sign that the Germans embraced the new technology immediately, where the stuffy old Brits did not.
This leads me to wonder what might have happened IF (that very big two letter word) the air ministry had ordered a prototype jet aircraft straight
away instead of wasting so much time. Thoughts of Jet propelled Spitfires in the Battle of Britain are a very tempting fantasy indeed!
indeed it is not completely unrealistic either as a jet propelled Spitfire variant was schemed by Supermarine during 1942 but the company was far too
busy to divert effort into such a risky scheme.
The E28/39 was actually ordered in 1939 and became Britains first jet to fly in May 1941. Taking this as a benchmark it is not too unbelievable to
foresee successful bench testing of the Whittle engine taking place by 1932-33, with govt backing, and a jet powered test aircraft (with open cockpit
and fixed gear!) taking to the air during 1934-35. in these circumstances the Spitfire might have been ordered as a Jet right from the off! So what
are the likely scenarios?
I envisage two likely outcomes from this.
1 - Germany is dissuaded from her aggressive policy in the 1930's by this advanced technology from Britain and war is not declared in 1939 at all -
maybe the war then starts in 1943 instead after Germany has caught up and much of the world ends up nuked?
2 - technical flaws in perfecting the new technolgy means that by the summer of 1939 neither the HurriJet or the JetFire has reached a single
squadron of the RAF, which is entirely reliant on the Gloster Gladiator and a small pre-production trials batch of Merlin engined Hurricanes, only
produced to get pilots used to monplanes with retracting undercarriages before the jets come along, for air defence. Britian dare not stand up to
Germany, who takes over all of Europe unopposed and then simply marches into the UK at will after sweeping the obsolete RAF from the skies as easily
as they had the Poles a few months earlier.
In either case it looks very much like history turned out for the better overall, or am I being unduly pessimistic? How do you think things might have
Gloster E28/39 - first allied jet aeroplane
Supermarine Attacker F.1 - real life end result of efforts to put a jet in the Spitfire