On the 80th anniversary of Battle of Britain Day, GE Aviation salutes the many involved in the battle that gave us the freedom we enjoy today.
With a Gloucestershire history dating back more than 80 years, Gloucester-based Dowty Propellers and GE Aviation Cheltenham (previously S Smith & Sons) supplied equipment to the Supermarine Spitfires, Hawker Hurricanes and Blenheim aircraft that were central to the Battle of Britain victory.
To this day, the GE Aviation companies continue to supply the British military with power systems, avionics and propellers and are actively involved in the future of combat air in the UK through such programmes as Team Tempest.
Originally named after its founder, George Dowty, GE-owned Dowty Propellers was set up in 1935 to build landing gear systems and later branched out into aircraft hydraulics. From the origins as Rotol Airscrews – created in 1937 to pursue then-emerging propulsion technologies – Dowty Propellers, which bought Rotol in 1960, has played an important role in the British aviation industry, maintaining a leadership position during 80 years of developing, producing and supporting propeller systems for civil and military aircraft, along with marine hovercraft.
At the outbreak of WWII, S Smith & Son’s (Motor Accessories) manufacturing facilities were retooled to produce war material and supplies, including large quantities of aircraft spark plugs, gauges, clocks, watches, speedometers, and a wide variety of aviation instruments. In May of 1940, the British government helped the company to open a new manufacturing facility for highly sophisticated aviation clocks in Cheltenham, England.
GE Aviation is a world-leading provider of integrated systems and infrastructure for aircraft power and cockpit systems. With more than 2,000 employees in Gloucestershire, GE Aviation is one of the largest employers of aviation systems engineers in the UK. Over 60% of its business focuses on supplying defence and military customers. GE Aviation in the UK has an active military veterans’ network and offers a fast-track careers programme to officers leaving the military, a programme that brings the value of real-life military experience to product development.
As a leader in the development, manufacture and support of electronically controlled, all-composite propeller systems, Dowty Propellers provides solutions for the propulsion needs of today and tomorrow. Its products are used in applications that range from commercial airliners and military airlifters to multi-role seaplanes and marine hovercraft.
“With a proven record of product development, introduction and support, we continually invest in technologies, production capabilities and human resources,” said Henry Johnston, president of Dowty Propellers. This helps result in propeller systems that are safe, efficient and reliable. Dowty Propellers’ history of firsts-to-market includes the all-composite propeller blade and full-authority digital propeller control. More than 23,000 advanced composite blades have been delivered to date by Dowty Propellers, with the lead blade logging 45,000 hours of flight time.