Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Frank Bernard Halford 1894-1955

Major Frank Bernard Halford, John L. P. Brodie and Eric S. Moult, with the De Haviland Goblin Turbojet, standard power unit of the De Haviland Vampire Fighter. 1945

Frank Bernard Halford was an English aircraft engine designer. - Educated at Felsted, In 1913 he left the University of Nottingham before graduating to learn to fly at Brooklands and Bristol Flying School and became a flight instructor using Bristol Boxkites. - He served in the First World War, in the Aeronautical Inspection Department of the Air Ministry as an engine examiner, and the Royal Flying Corps where he fought at the front. Recalled to engineering duties he improved and enlarged the water-cooled six-cylinder Austro-Daimler, producing the 230 hp (170 kW) Beardmore Halford Pullinger (BHP). This engine was further developed by Armstrong Siddeley as the Puma. - In 1922 he rode a 4-valve Triumph Ricardo in the Senior TT, finishing 13th. That same year he was commissioned to produce a luxury motorcycle for Vauxhall. Based on aero-engine principles, it featured an in-line unit construction four cylinder engine, with shaft drive to the rear wheel. Four examples were made, one exists in a private collection in the Isle of Man. - In 1923 he set up his own consultancy in London, alongside the equally influential engine designer Harry Ricardo. There he designed the famous de Havilland Gipsy air-cooled inline engines, copying the success of the Cirrus Engine company in the general aviation role. - During this period Frank Halford also designed and had built the AM Halford Special racing car which he raced at Brooklands in the 1926 RAC British Grand Prix, as well as in many other races in 1925 and 1926. - During the 1930s Halford and Ricardo became interested in the sleeve valve as a method of increasing the allowable operating RPM of piston engines, thereby increasing the power from an otherwise smaller engine. While Ricardo worked with Bristol Engines, Halford worked with Napier & Son on their Sabre design which would go on to be one of the most powerful piston aero engines, producing 3,500 hp (2.6 MW) from only 2200 cubic inches (36 L) in late-war versions. During the war he became interested in jet engines, and designed a simplified version of Frank Whittle's centrifugal-flow designs with the air intake on the front and "straight-through" combustion chambers. Known initially as the Halford H.1, the project was taken up by de Havilland who produced it as the de Havilland Goblin. Halford's company was eventually purchased outright by de Havilland in 1944. Halford continued working on jets, turboprop and rocket engines.