Hans Von Ohain - Early Life and Jet Development

Early Life and Jet Development

Born in Dessau, Germany, he earned a Ph.D. in Physics and Aerodynamics from the University of Göttingen, then one of the major centers for aeronautical research, and was lectured by Ludwig Prandtl. During his studies, in 1933 he conceived of "an engine that did not require a propeller." After receiving his degree in 1935, Ohain became the junior assistant of Robert Wichard Pohl, then director of the Physical Institute of the University.

In 1936, while working for Pohl, von Ohain earned a patent on his version of jet engines, Process and Apparatus for Producing Airstreams for Propelling Airplanes. Unlike Frank Whittle's design, von Ohain's design used a centrifugal compressor and turbine placed very close together, back to back, with the flame cans wrapped around the outside of the assembly.

While working at the University, von Ohain often took his sports car to be serviced at a local garage, Bartles and Becker. Here he met an automotive engineer, Max Hahn, and eventually arranged for him to build a model of his design for around 1,000 ℛℳ. The completed model was even larger in diameter than Whittle's 1937 fully working engine, although much shorter along the thrust axis. Von Ohain took the model to the University for testing but ran into serious problems with combustion stability. Often the fuel would not burn inside the flame cans and would be blown through the turbine sending shooting flames out the back and overheating the electric motor powering the compressor.

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