Our London site will be closed 17 April for a private event.

Lunchtime Lecture (London): Building Engines for War

Aircraft Factory Line

23 April 2024

On Tuesday 23rd April 2024 at 12pm, Dr Edward Young will explore British and American wartime production. This talk will be hosted in-person at the RAF Museum’s London site and virtually via Crowdcast.

Talk Outline

This talk will describe a critical aspect of British and American wartime production: how British and American aero engine manufacturers shifted from their pre-war practice of low-volume, batch production relying on highly skilled workers using standard machine tools, to large-scale production in wartime using new production methods, semi- and unskilled workers and new types of machine tools. During the Second World War, Britain and America built over one million aero engines. The standard narrative of production in the Second World War is that mass production methods typically associated with the automotive industry were essential to all wartime production. Aero engine production in the Second World War was not a case of simply adopting these mass production methods, nor was it a simple process of converting what some assume to have been a civilian industry to military production, using civilian factories and existing machine tools to aero engine production. Aero engines were not, and could not, be built on the assembly lines typical of mass production. The talk will describe how the British and American Governments organised aircraft engine production during the Second World War, bringing in the automotive industry through the shadow factory scheme in Britain and licensed production in America to build aircraft engines in unprecedented quantities. Both governments financed a significant expansion of production capacity creating new significantly larger factories to build aircraft engines. This talk will focus on three of the leading manufacturers of air-cooled radial aircraft engines, Bristol Aeroplane Company in Britain, and Pratt & Whitney and Wright Aeronautical Corporation in America.

 

Location
This hybrid lecture will be hosted in-person at the RAF Museum’s London site in the Lecture Theatre. Attendance in-person is free but registration is required via Digitickets.
Livestream
To attend virtually, register via Crowdcast.

About Dr Edward Young

Edward M. Young received a BA in Political Science from Harvard University and an MA from the University of Washington. He served two years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Thailand. He spent eight years as a commercial banker before joining Moody’s Investors Service, the bond rating agency. Young worked at Moody’s for twenty years with assignments in New York, London, Tokyo, and Hong Kong. In 2015 Young completed an MA in the History of Warfare at King’s College, London, returning to King’s College to study for a PhD in History. He completed his degree in 2020.
Young has written twenty-two books and monographs on aviation and military history, including Aerial Nationalism: A History of Aviation in Thailand published by the Smithsonian Institution, The Tenth Air Force in World War II: Strategy, Command, and Operations 1942-1945 published by Schiffer Publishing, as well as fourteen titles for Osprey Publishing in the United Kingdom. The Society of Automotive Engineers has recently published his study of aircraft engine production in the Second World War titled Building Engines for War: Air-Cooled Radial Aircraft Engine Production in Britain and America in World War II. He lives with his wife in Seattle, Washington.

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