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Wings and Wheels Society talk on history of iconic aircraft


Last week’s meeting of the Dursley Wings and Wheels Society was well-attended, when Group Captain Jock Heron OBE gave an illustrated show entitled: Rolls Royce Olympus Engine and the RAF Avro Vulcan.

Jock Heron gave an excellent in-depth talk covering the history and design of this Iconic jet engine. The Rolls-Royce Olympus was the world’s second two-spool axial-flow turbojet aircraft engine design, first run in May 1950 and preceded only by the Pratt & Whitney J57, first-run in January 1950.

It is best known as the powerplant of the Avro Vulcan and later models in Concorde. The design dates to a November 1946 proposal by Bristol Aeroplane Company for a jet-powered bomber, powered by four new engines which would be supplied by Bristol Aero Engines. Although their bomber design was ultimately cancelled in favour of the other V bombers, the engine design’s use of twin-spool layout led to continued interest from the Air Ministry and continued development funding. The engine first ran in 1950 and quickly outperformed its design goals. Initially used in the Vulcan, later versions added reheat for use in the supersonic BAC TSR-2. Bristol Aero Engines merged with Armstrong Siddeley Motors in 1959 to form Bristol Siddeley Engines Limited (BSEL), which in turn was taken over by Rolls-Royce in 1966.

Through this period the engine was further developed as the Rolls-Royce/Snecma Olympus 593 for Concorde. Whilst Concorde was in development the Olympus 593 was tested on various Vulcan ex-bombers that were modified as flying test bed aircraft. The last Flying (preserved) Avro Vulcan XH558 finally flew on the 15 May 2015, this was truly the last flight of an aircraft powered by such engines. Although a couple of preserved (non-airworthy) Vulcans in the UK potentially can still be used for fast taxi runs at public events.

However, the Olympus was also developed with success as marine and industrial gas turbines, which were highly successful. Still today, the Olympus (non-aircraft engines) remains in service as both a marine and industrial gas turbine.

At the end of the evening, after a Q&A session, Rich Kelsey gave a vote of thanks to the Speaker.

The Next Wings and Wheels show will be held at Dursley Community Centre GL11 4BX on Thursday, 14th March at 8pm with a show entitled: Bristol Aircraft at War.

Air Commodore Graham Pitchfork MBE, aviation historian and author returns to give us a talk on the WW2 Bristol Blenheim, Beaufort and Beaufighter aircraft. He will present a detailed look at their missions and stories of bravery from the crews that flew them. All welcome, entry £4. For further info email wingsteam@debsillusatration.co.uk or visit:  www.wingsandwheelssociety.org.uk.

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