Re: fffffffff (fwd)

John P. Roll (
Thu, 28 Sep 95 09:08:11 -0500

In message <v02120d01ac8c31157afd@[]> writes:
> I first heard this story with different details in a speech given to
> entering Engineering freshman by the Dean of Engineering at the University
> of Connecticut, nearly a quarter century ago (boy do I feel old now). Due
> to it's location UConn's engineering department has had a lot of
> interaction with Pratt and Whitney.
> The story was that a mortar filled with birds is fired into the intake
> compressor blades of jet engines (sorry ;) ) in an altitude chamber to test
> the effects of ingesting birds on the engine.
> A recently hired engineer was tasked with obtaining the birds and decided
> that either chickens or turkeys were readily available at the local
> supermarket.
> Of course he forgot to thaw them.
> The deans point was that you could tell how good a job you had by how big a
> mistake you could make.

<<Original Snipped>>

I heard a similar point made by Professor Murphy at the University of Minnesota.
It seems that at the end of WWII Murf was working at the Navy Labs (in
Philadelphia, I believe). They were experimenting with the ultimate in
high-altitude boost for piston engines - they would replace the air with pure
oxygen. In short, the piston engines could, theoretically operate totally
removed from the atmosphere. Of course, this resulted in an again theoretical
boost of the power output to approximately 5 times that of the original engine.
When you replace all of the nitrogen in the air (~80%) with oxygen and keep the
mixture perfect, that's what you get, theoretically.

One day Murf was testing one of these things - I think he said it was a R-4360 -
a corncob radial with 4 rows of 9 cylinders. When he was distracted for a
moment. While he was distracted, he bumped the throttle "just a bit". Within
1/3rd of a second, the engine blew 17 cylinders off the engine and destroyed the
dynamometer. Not a cheap mistake. They looked at the instruments and guessed
that the engine had produced about 10,000 HP for the brief burst before it
exploded. For that moment - and probably ever since, Professor Murphy had the
most powerful pure piston engine in the world.

He always seemed rather proud of that mistake. Although, I suspect it got a bit
better with every telling!

Not WWI, but nonetheless (I think) kinda interesting!

John Roll