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Watch When Jet Engines Were Very Young and Expectations Were Sky High

“Jet Propulsion” Wasn’t Everything It Was Supposed To Be When This Film Was Made

Official US Navy photograph

Made in 1952, the film “Jet Propulsion” was produced by Encyclopaedia Britannica along with the Illinois Institute of Technology. At this point in aviation history, jet engines were still behind the power curve. The jet engine would of course go on to become a reliable and efficient power plant, but when the film was made, first-generation jets powering aircraft were far from either. As a result, military aircraft developed for jet propulsion had short service lives and were prone to accidents- many of them fatal. The film was uploaded to YouTube by PersicopeFilm.


Propeller aircraft featured early in the film include Douglas DC-3 and DC-6 as well as Martin 404 airliners and VF-727 Naval Reserve Grumman F8F Bearcat fighters, VA-727 Martin AM-1 Mauler attack aircraft, and North American SNJ trainers filmed at Naval Air Station Glenview (now closed) near Chicago in Illinois. Look for some Consolidated PBY-6A Catalina patrol bombers in the background among the other Naval Air Reserve Training Unit (NARTU) aircraft.

Official US Navy photograph

Jet aircraft featured in the film include Naval Reserve McDonnell F2H-4 Banshee fighter bombers also based at NAS Glenview. The film also explains the basic principles of the turbojet, turboprop, pulse jet, and ramjet engines along with rockets. It is interesting to note that at the time the film was produced development of all of these engine types was in its infancy, yet it would take only a little more than a decade for the combination of them to all but replace propeller driven power in military and commercial aircraft.

Official US Navy photograph

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Written by Bill Walton

Bill Walton is a life-long aviation enthusiast and expert in aircraft recognition. As a teenager Bill helped his engineer father build an award-winning T-18 homebuilt airplane in their Wisconsin basement. Bill is a freelance writer, an avid sailor, engineer, announcer, husband, father, uncle, mentor, coach, and Navy veteran. Bill lives north of Houston TX with his wife and son under the approach path to KDWH runway 17R, which means they get to look up at a lot of airplanes. A very good thing.