Whittle W.1X Engine

Jet engines enabled aircraft to fly higher, farther, and faster than piston engine aircraft could.

Display Status:

This object is on display in the Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall exhibition at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC.

Collection Item Summary:

Sir Frank Whittle's jet aircraft engine was patented in 1932, and Power Jets, Ltd. formed in 1936. The Whittle Unit bench test engine first ran on April 12, 1937. In 1939, the British Air Ministry placed a contract for the W.1 engine to be flight tested on the new Gloster E.28/39 aircraft. During taxiing tests, the W.1X non-airworthy engine unofficially became the first British turbojet to be airborne when the E.28/39 made short, straight hops. The W.1 flew officially in the E.28/39 on May 15, 1941.

The W.1X and drawings of the W.2B production engine were delivered to the General Electric Company on October 1, 1941. GE's improved and uprated version, the IA, powered the first U.S. jet aircraft, the Bell XP-59A Airacomet on October 2, 1942. At the end of its useful life, the W.1X was returned to England. On November 8, 1949, the W.1X was presented to the Smithsonian by Power Jets, Ltd.

Collection Item Long Description:



Inventory Number


Physical Description

  • Type: Turbojet
  • Thrust: 5,516 N (1,240 lb) at 17,750 rpm, 3,781 N (850 lb) at 16,500 rpm (Derated for first flight)
  • Compressor: Single-stage, double entry, centrifugal
  • Combustor: 10 reverse flow chambers
  • Turbine: Single- stage axial
  • Weight: 254 kg (560 lb)

Credit Line

Gift of Power Jets, Ltd.


Sir Frank Whittle

Country of Origin

United Kingdom




Overall: 161.3 × 121.9 × 111.8cm, 254kg (5 ft. 3 1/2 in. × 4 ft. × 3 ft. 8 in., 560lb.)

Data Source

National Air and Space Museum

Restrictions & Rights

Do not reproduce without permission from the Smithsonian Institution, National Air and Space Museum


PROPULSION-Turbines (Jet)

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