An aluminium alloy camshaft cover being poured in the foundry.


D. Napier and Son Ltd. was a British engineering company best known for manufacturing and later designing automotive and aeronautical engines during the first half of the 20th century. One of the company’s most successful engines was the Lion, a 12-cylinder W12 configuration aero engine which was first produced in 1917 and continued to be manufactured into the 1930s. The Lion was a versatile engine … Continue reading THE NAPIER AERO ENGINE IN THE MAKING

RAF 100

1918 is a key date in the history of aviation, one could almost say it’s when professional aviation was born. It was of course, the birthday of the Royal Air Force (RAF). 100 years later IMechE Headquarters was privileged to be on the flight path for the celebratory fly-past on 10th June, and close to an exhibition of planes at Horse Guards. The formation of … Continue reading RAF 100


On the 21st June 1945 Sir Frank Whittle made the first public presentation of the jet engine in the lecture theatre at the Institutional of Mechanical Engineers. Interactive timeline on the invention & development of the jet engine available online now!   Frank Whittle was a 21 year old cadet at RAF College Cranwell when he wrote his revolutionary thesis ‘Future Developments in Aircraft Design’. In … Continue reading BIRTH OF THE JET AGE

Hiram Maxim and gun


Hiram Maxim was a prolific inventor; in 1866 he took out his first patent for a hair-curling iron. He went on to make improvements to automatic sprinklers, feed-water heaters, gas motors, dynamos and lamp carbons. He is also credited with constructing the first tricycle built in America. His rare talent for invention, and desire to improve upon existing machines and devices, led him to turn … Continue reading HIRAM MAXIM

Christian Friedrich Lautenschlager in a Mercedes in the 1914 French Grand Prix


Planes, trains and automobiles: mechanical engineering archives now online Over 1900 images from the archives and historic book collection of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) are now available online via VADS. From pictures of experimental cars, aeroplanes, engine designs, engineers portraits, railway locomotives and much more. Highlights include works of art of the Liverpool & Manchester Railway, images of Napier engines, design drawings of … Continue reading IMAGE LIBRARY ONLINE


Record-breaking English Electric Canberra to be returned to flight The team that returned Vulcan XH558 to flight is to return another iconic all-British jet to the airshow circuit, guest post from  One of Britain’s most important jet-age aircraft is to be returned to flight. English Electric Canberra WK163 spent most of her life playing a central role in the development of advanced propulsion technologies … Continue reading CANBERRA TO FLY AGAIN

Royal Aircraft Factory Aerial Target under construction at Farnborough, 1917 or 1918


The First World War had a huge impact on engineering and engineers, not least in the field of aviation. Peter Elliott from the RAF Museum explores how the Royal Aircraft Factory, Farnborough developed. The First World War saw British military aviation develop from a small number of squadrons flying unarmed aircraft for reconnaissance to large forces using aircraft designed for a wide range of specialist … Continue reading THE BIRTH OF AVIATION

Engineers at War: from home front to battle front


Engineers at War: from Home Front to Battle Front On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918, the guns of the Western Front fell silent after more than four years of continuous warfare. Engineers were involved in the conflict at every level, both at home and abroad. The First World War arguably represents the largest seismic shift of the … Continue reading ENGINEERS AT WAR: FROM HOME FRONT TO BATTLE FRONT

Menu signed by members of Lemon's Directorate at the Air Ministry, 1938


Sir Ernest John Hutchings Lemon, OBE (9 Dec 1884 – 15 Dec 1954) was the Chief Mechanical Engineer of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway (LMS) and later one of its three Vice-Presidents. Lemon was made Director-General of Aircraft Production for the RAF, he made crucial improvements to aircraft production which resulted in the UK being able to defend its skies. He was responsible for … Continue reading LEMON PAPERS