Sir Frank Whittle passed away on August 8, 1996 at the age of 89, in Maryland. His work in developing the turbojet can truly be said to represent one of the greatest mechanical engineering achievements in the last 70 years. The development of the turbojet demanded that Whittle face almost insurmountable technical and institutional challenges. The technical challenges included developing centrifugal compressor pressure ratios of 4:1 from the prevailing technology level of 2.5:1, increasing compressor efficiencies from 65 to 80% while designing for combustion intensities that were 10 times the prevailing state of the art in boiler technology. He was also responsible for utilizing a vortex turbine design approach. The institutional challenges that he faced included changing a paradigm on aircraft propulsion technology and nurturing Power Jets Ltd. to produce excellent engine designs with minimal resources in terms of money, technical manpower and governmental support. It is the object of this paper to document the epic long drawn out struggle fought by Sir Frank against entrenched technical opinion that ultimately resulted in the turbojet revolution. The technical aspects of his pioneering work with emphasis on the problems he encountered will also be discussed.

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