Oxhill News

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South Warwickshire, England.

The Oxhill News

October 2016

This months News



David Whaley Obituary

(as submitted by David some years ago).

One of Whittle's Engineers

David Whaley was very lucky to be selected in 1941 for his first job at the RAE, Farnborough, Hampshire. After a year testing Merlin and Pegasus piston engines as a Technical Assistant, in 1942 he was transferred to the Turbine Division to work on gas turbine (jet) engines. These were totally new, and were ground tested at a new site off the airfield named Pyestock, later to become the NGTE. This testing covered not only performance, but for example fire resistance and the effect of a thrust reverser.

Soon after this, the Gloster E28/39 single seater – the first jet plane – was posted to Farnborough, and was based at a hangar on the opposite side of the aerodrome from the RAE. This became known as T-flight. The E28 was fitted with an automatic observer (a camera and standard instruments such as an altimeter) and was flown by RAF pilots, in particular S/Ldr ‘Dougie’ Davie.

Whaley’s work was both practical and of a mathematical nature, working out certain non-dimensional quantities from the film readings. The first engine he flight-tested was a Whittle W2/500 in E28/39 W4041G.

Another series of flight tests were carried out on the Whittle W2/500 engine in the spring of 1944. This was followed by flight tests on the American Bell YP. 59A, which was fitted with two GEC 1A.2 turbine engines, based on the Whittle design, which had been given to the U.S. General Electric Company by the government.

In August of that year, Farnborough received the motor of the German “buzz bomb” which was being used to attack London; its proper name was FZG76 Flying bomb. This was tested on an open air test bench by A D Baxter (later professor), D H Whaley, and Cliff Kell. The first time it started, there was panic locally as the sound was by that time well known in Southern England as a danger signal!

In October 1944 a more advanced Whittle engine, the W2/700 was tested in the E28/39 by Whaley and A W Thom. As well as the single-seater aircraft, T-flight received a Vickers Wellington and a Whittle engine in place of the rear turret, and an Avro Lancaster with a Metropolitan-Vickers F2 axial flow engine similarly mounted. Whaley acted as flight observer on both, with an instrument panel mounted in the fuselage.

In December 1944 the Turbine Division of RAE was merged with Whittle’s company, Power Jets Ltd, and the work was transferred to Whetstone, near Leicester, with the flying taking place from Bruntingthorpe airfield.

With the end of the war, Power Jets was virtually closed down. As a result he applied for a job as a development engineer at Rolls Royce, Derby, but found that the RR patent department was run by S/Ldr F E Pickles, who had been a colleague at Farnborough.  It was no contest! So began a new career as a Chartered Patent Agent, involving passing the exams of the Chartered Institute. The work at Rolls-Royce dealt mainly with gas turbine design, in particular the Avon for the RAF and the Dart for the Viscount.

In June 1956 he left Rolls-Royce and joined the Engine Division of the Bristol Aeroplane Co. as assistant to the Commercial Director, John Innes. This was a very productive time, with the Proteus engine for the Britannia, the Olympus for the RAF’s Avro Vulcan, and the Orpheus for the NATO Fiat G01 lightweight strike fighters.

In January 1960 he was head- hunted by the English Electric Co. and worked in London, responsible for patents of the following divisions: power transformers, power switchgear, steam and gas turbine, water turbine, plastics, and part of the Nelson Research Laboratories. In seven years his salary doubled, though how much was due to inflation is hard to say!

Born in London in 1922, Whaley was brought up in Rutland, the smallest county of England. His father, Herbert Whaley, had been in the army in World War 1 and married Barbara, the daughter of the local Member of Parliament.

He was sent to Eton, where he joined the Air Section of the OTC. In 1939 the summer camp was held at Tangmere airfield, and the cadets were flown by the RAF to numerous airfields, soon to be famous as Battle of Britain stations, including Biggin Hill, Hornchurch and Northholt. So he becae familiar with Gladiators, Hurricanes, Spitfires, and Blenheims.

He had previously flown with several ‘air circuses’ including Sir Alan Cobham’s, which toured the country, and during the summer camp was given the controls of a Miles Mentor by S/Ldr Atcherley of Schneider Trophy fame.

After leaving school early because of the impending war, he studied at the College of Aeronautical Engineering in Sydney Street, Chelsea, from September 1939 until 1941, passing exams to become an Associate Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society. The latter part of the course was carried out at Guildford, as the college in Chelsea got a direct hit from a German bomb – fortunately at night.

It was after this that he got a letter of engagement from the Ministry of Aircraft Production, offering an appointment of £180 a year.

In 1967 English Electric Co was taken over by Sir Arnold Weinstock’s GEC. Sir Arnold was not keen on duplication, so the patent department – which had an unrivalled knowledge, especially on American patents – was dispersed.

Whaley was fortunate to obtain a post as a Group Patent Agent for the Associated Engineering Group, based in Rugby. The group had it principal companies in Alperton, Bradford, Birmingham, Coventry and Lymington, and made components mainly for the motor industry, which was in decline. AE was eventually taken over by Turner & Newall, which in turn was bought by the American Federal Mogul. On joining AE, Whaley had bought a house in a small Warwickshire village, which served very well when he retired.

In retirement he joined the Warwickshire branch of the British Red Cross Society a supply officer, and in a few years he was made President of the branch. He also did voluntary work at Warwick Hospital, and Meals on Wheels in Leamington Spa. He also travelled widely in Russia, Georgia, and China.

David Whaley, engineer was born on 16 January 1922.

He married Elisabeth Dalrymple in Johannesburg in 1954, and the marriage was dissolve in 1960. Elisabeth died in 1960. He is survived by a son and daughter of his first wife.

David was not survived by his second wife Eve, who in fact died in February 2009.  Thereafter David stayed on in the Old Rectory for some time, but when the fall of one of its chimneys necessitated major repairs, he moved for the last years of his life into a nursing home in Chipping Campden.   Eve and he had lived in the Old Rectory since 1967, and he was at one time churchwarden, a post to which Eve later succeeded him.


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Last modified: September 26, 2016