Smith's surmise of  V2
Smith’s surmise of V-2


Frank Ewart Smith (1897-1995) was Deputy Director of Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI), he then went on to work with the NHS and undertook work as a Fellow of the Royal Society. During the Second World War he worked on armaments, especially the PIAT (Projector, Infantry, Anti-Tank portable weapon). Smith was also Vice President of the IMechE.

His archive is now catalogued and open to researchers.

Search the Sir Frank Ewart Smith Papers online now

Frank Ewart Smith catalogue PDF

Smith was educated at Uckfield Grammar, and later won a scholarship to Christ’s Hospital. He then gained a scholarship to Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge in 1915 to read Natural Sciences (he took up his place in 1919 after the First World War during which he served at both Messines and Ypres). He went on to gain a first in Mechanical Engineering and stayed on as a postgraduate to study phase changes in iron, for which he was awarded the John Wimbolt prize.

By 1931, Smith was Technical Director of ICI’s chemical plant at Billingham, County Durham. In the lead up to the Second World War, ICI had planned for the production of fuel and explosives, with which Smith assisted. During wartime he served in the Government appointed role of Chief Engineer & Superintendent of Armament Design (CEAD) for the Ministry of Supply at Fort Halstead, where he had a leading role in the design of PIAT, for armour piercing (British equivalent to the American Bazooka); apparently in response to what he perceived as the risk of the German’s arming the Pas de Calais and the need to hold them back, hence the drive for new weapons. In 1943 he predicted the development and deployment of long range rockets by Germany; this directly led to the targeting of V-2 launch sites for which PIAT (and other weapons) were deployed.

After the war he returned to his career at ICI, rising to Deputy Chairman (retired 1959). Upon his retirement Smith went to work with the NHS, as Chairman of the Advisory Council for Management and Efficiency. He was active throughout his life, giving lectures and writing articles to a/for a number of bodies.

Smith was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 1957.

His papers are arranged by activity, except for FES/6 which are folders on a range of topics etc arranged and indexed by Smith:

FES/1 Education
FES/2 Ministry of Supply (wartime work)
FES/3 Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI) Limited
FES/4 National Health Service
FES/5 Royal Society
FES/6 Indexed Files
FES/7 Lectures and Printed Materials

Archive, Institution of Mechanical Engineers


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