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Jet Propulsion

Advanced theory and operation of simple pulse-jet engines
from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), at the Daniel Guggenheim Aeronautical Laboratory, California Institute of Technology (GALCIT), in Pasadena

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Jet Propulsion

Advanced theory and operation of simple pulsejet engines

from the Daniel Guggenheim Aeronautical Laboratory, California Institute of Technology (GALCIT)

This historic document is the first known American scientific discussion and detailed technical analysis of the German V-1 pulsejet engine. 

A historical reference text on the theory and operation of simple pulsejet engines, it was prepared by the staff of the Guggenheim Aeronautical Laboratory and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, GALCIT, California Institute of Technology for the US Army Air Corps Air Technical Service Command in 1946.

This book has quite an interesting and important history.  In July 1943, the US Air Corps Materiel Center asked Dr. Theodore von Kármán, professor at Cal Tech and Director of the Cal Tech Aeronautical Lab, to comment on three British photos of German V-1 buzz-bomb.  The professor could only confirm that secret developments could have indeed created a threat to Allied plans for the conduct of the war.

Dr Theodore von Kármán

In 1944, Von Kármán made a proposal to the US Army Air Corps to build a ramjet test facility at Cal Tech.  The ramjet principle was simple, but no data were available to guide the creation of an efficient and reliable design.

Soon the Air Corps "Jet Propulsion Research Project" was underway near the Cal Tech campus.  Von Kármán envisioned making prototypes that would eventually lead to ramjets that could be the main power plant in missiles--eventually transonic and supersonic in speed.  "Power Plant Laboratory Project MX527" started later in 1944 as GALCIT Projects 20 and 23, and continued until 1946 as the "JPL-3 Project." 

The first printed use of the words "Jet Propulsion Laboratory" was dated June 29, 1944.  The jet study group typed "Jet Propulsion Laboratory" as a letterhead on an Aug. 9, 1944 memo.  The first proposal for new work that used "Jet Propulsion Laboratory" was dated Aug. 21, 1944.  The "Jet Propulsion Laboratory GALCIT" made its first monthly report on Sept. 1, 1944.

The continuing series of monthly progress reports to the Army Air Force Materiel Center Aircraft Laboratory also first used "Jet Propulsion Laboratory Project No. JPL-1" to replace "GALCIT Project No. 1."

In the spring of 1945, von Kármán sent a group of scientists to Europe to question German scientists and engineers about their rapid progress in aviation during the war.  Of great importance were their visits to the BMW aircraft engine factor in Munich, the Aerodynamic Laboratory formerly at Peenemünde, and Oetztal, a site in the Tyrolian Alps, where the world's most powerful wind tunnel was then under construction.

In December 1945, Dr. von Kármán's group presented their findings in a report which laid out a blueprint for an Air Force research and development facility.  According to von Kármán, the report "looked at the basic scientific potential which could change the future."  The name "Jet Propulsion Laboratory" became the name by which the Project would be known from then on.

This 1946 document is very rare, as you will now see.  It's one of very few ever published by the original "GALCIT" organization with the (typed, on a mechanical typewriter) Jet Propulsion Laboratory name.

It was only after February 1947 that the laboratory became known simply as "Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology." The use of "GALCIT" following "Jet Propulsion Laboratory" then ended.

(Dr. Theodore von Kármán was enshrined in the National Aviation Hall of Fame in July 1983, for his outstanding contributions to aviation and space technology his theoretical studies and practical applications of aerodynamics to improve aircraft performance and his development and utilization of rocketry in creating weapons of defense.)

For many, many years this report remained “Restricted” and very secret.  It’s a key technical and historical document for every pulsejet and experimental rocketry enthusiast.  If you build or fly Dyna-Jet or other small reaction engines, you’ll enjoy and use this fine reference resource.

The report covers many subjects in great detail, including:

  • Predicting thrust and calculating horsepower
  • Pulse amplitudes and frequency calculation theory and practice
  • Correct length of engine tail pipes
  • Conditions of flow and temperature within the engine and tail pipe
  • Combustion and pulse frequency analysis
  • Fuel pressure, fuel-air ratios, fuel flow, and ignition in pulsejet engines
  • Detailed engine venturi duct and fuel injection plan for the V-1 engine, with dimensions
  • Measured experimental values for the V-1 engine
  • Reducing pulsejet engine drag
  • Effect of altitude on fuel consumption
Much of the research reported was based on US Army Air Force twenty-foot wind tunnel tests on the “Jet Unit of a German Robot Bomb” (August 1944), and testing of the “German Robot Bomb Engine” (November 1944).  The report also surveys the early patent literature (France, 1930-38; Germany, 1930; Italy, 1931).

Referred to as “aeropulse” and “thermojet” engines, this book includes chapters on:

  • Compressor-less Thermojets
  • Aeropulse Theory and Design
  • A Simple Theory for Aeropulse
  • Example of Actual Specific Consumption of Aeropulse
  • Frequency of Pulsation and Thrust of an Aeropulse
  • The Overall Performance of Aeropulse and Possible Developments
Drawings and detailed drawings and graphs cover such subjects as:
  • German Aeropulse: Arrangement of Duct
  • German Aeropulse: Air Valve
  • Combustion Chamber and Tail Pipe Pressures vs Fuel Flow
  • Specific Fuel Consumption vs Flight Mach Number
  • Effective Exit Velocity
  • Performance of German Aeropulse: Specific Fuel Consumption vs Flight Mach Number
  • Pressure Distribution and Beginning and End of Combustion Cycles
  • Net Thrust vs Flight Mach Number
  • Weight Breakdown of German Aeropulse
  • Net Thrust Coefficient vs Flight Mach Number
To see an independent critical review of this important book, look here.

Very hard to find and now very out-of-print, this new limited edition has been republished by the Rocket Science Institute.  It's printed with a high-resolution laser printer (not photocopied) on high-quality, bright-white, acid-free paper for years of reference use.  24 pages, 11" x 8-1/2" in size.  ISBN 1-878628-17-8     $16.95

USA (Insured Priority Mail: $3.85)
International (Priority Airmail: $9.85)

Book reviewed here. ..


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