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The Gloster E.28/39 come into being purely as a testbed for the Power Jets engines. It was designed in consultation with that

firm and Aerodynamics Department, RAE Farnborough, and was virtually the minimum- size aeroplane for the early engines (though the specification called for provision to fit four 0.303 Browning machine guns and 2,000 rounds of ammunition). Two aircraft were built, the second, piloted by John Grierson, flying on March I, 1943, at Edgehill. (Coin- cidentally, the F.9/40 made its first flight

four days later

at Cranwell, in the hands of

Michael Daunt.) The second E.28 was powered by a Rover W.2B engine of 1,4501b design

thrust

BRITAIN' S

FIRST JET .

massage produced by the Napier Sabre's 2,400 h.p. in the cockpit of the Typhoon. On one occasion at Edgehill I taxied out for a flight and just as I was opening up the engine and had reached

13,000 r.p.m. the noise faded right out and the turbine stopped. I had to get out fairly quickly and push my little aeroplan e off th e runwa y ou t of th e pat h of a studen t pilo t landing a Wellington. To begin with the failure was a mystery but during a meeting at Bentham held to discuss

it, the makers of the fuel pump contended that it must

have been due to an air-lock caused by air bubbles becom- ing trapped in the inverted-flying compartment of the fuel tank, a theory with which Power Jets did not agree and which seemed to me most unlikely. Thus when the Ministry

chairman of the meeting declared that he accepted the air-lock theory, I simply said "We are not prepared to fly again until a more plausible explanation is forthcoming." Patrick Johnson of Power Jets was delighted because he shared my disagreement, and as a result of further tests

it was discovered that the failure had really been due to

dirt in the governor of the Iffield fuel pump. The cure for this was a better standard of filtration, but in the mean- time we flew with the governor disconnected.

In April the engine was re-rated by Rovers from 1,2001b

to 1,4001b thrust at 16,350 r.p.m., just as Rolls-Royce took

over responsibility for its production and development. On the 17th of that month I had to ferry the aeroplane to

Hatfield on a very secret mission which turned out to be

a demonstration in front of Mr Churchill. For this, its

first cross-country flight, the E.28 was nominally to be escorted by two squadron Spitfires and a Typhoon. My compass had not been swung (primarily I suppose on grounds of security) and I was nervous of losing myself

in the haze. Although I kept throttling back so that the

Typhoon was visible, I lost the Spitfires completely.

In those days Hatfield had only rough grass and no

runway and the available area was not very large. In trying

to slow down on the approach I did a slight side-slip which

blanketed the rudder with the result that I had to fight to regain control within 100ft of the ground. The trouble was due to the rather bulgy fuselage spoiling the airstream over the rudder as soon as yaw was introduced. The Spitfires dived over the aerodrome just after I had landed.

The next important programme was aimed at getting

the first E.28, W4041, to the greatest possible height.

It had been re-engined with a Power Jets W.2/500 engine

of 1,6201b thrust, and this brought the all-up weight to 4,1801b. I had to go into special training at the RAE Physiological Laboratory at Farnborough and when they tested me at first in the decompression chamber, I suffered

FLIGHT International, 13 May 1971

a bit from bends above 35,000ft although I had been to 40,000ft fairly comfortably in Hurricanes, which had heat but not pressure. Because there was to be no pressurisation in the E.28 cockpit, they fitted me with a pressure waist- coat consisting of a Mae West into which my oxygen supply's exhaust was fed. This had the effect of partially pressurising my lungs and was expected to increase by 4,000ft the altitude at which consciousness would be lost with full oxygen, and I was successfully tested up to 46,000ft in the decompression chamber with this equip- ment. As an antidote to "bends", due to nitrogen bubbles forming in the blood-stream and producing a pain like that of acute rheumatism, the doctors advised me to pre- oxygenate myself by taking a liberal supply of oxygen throug h a mas k an d jumpin g o n an d off a chai r fo r 20min so as to saturate my blood-stream with oxygen just before take-off. In June during my early attempts to reach the ceiling of the E.28 I encountered a number of problems. To begin with, after carrying out fairly extended tests at 20,000ft and descending into the circuit among the balloons at Brockworth, I found to my dismay that on lowering the undercarriage, the green light for the nose-wheel failed to come on however hard I pumped. So I tried retracting and lowering again several times, to the accompaniment of much furious pumping, but all in vain and the low reading of the fuel contents gauge indicated that I could not afford to delay my landing much longer. So I had recourse to my final life-line and pulled the plunger of the emergency air system. Luckily this broke the ice which had evidently been hindering the mechanism and I was delighted to see the third green light come on at last. On the next climb the ailerons became so stiff at 27,000ft they could hardly be moved. This flight was therefore abandoned and the trouble was found to be due to dirt in the hinge ball-races of the ailerons, where trapped globules of moisture duly froze at altitude. This was exactly the same trouble which was to lead Farnborough to lose the second E.28 on July 30, when the ailerons jammed solid at 37,000ft and the pilot, Doug Davie, was catapulted out through the canopy, though he fortunately survived that time. He lost his goggles, a glove and his oxygen mask, so that he only survived by sticking the tube of his emergency oxygen supply in his mouth, but he suffered extensive frostbite. If there had been better technical collaboration, Farnborough would have been forewarned of the danger of freezing ailerons on the E.28 in the light of Gloster's previous experience and solution of the problem. On the third flight, I was climbing at 34,500ft and the