Napier Gas Turbine Engines – An Introduction

In 1945 the Ministry of Supply awarded a contract to English Electric and its subsidiary D Napier & Son for an Axial Compressor Research Programme.

Like the Company’s piston engine designs, it was the sheer diversity of gas turbine design and development at DNS that set it apart from its rivals.  This department was under the leadership of Arthur J. Penn whose mastery of the centrifugal compressor had boosted the power output of the supercharged Napier Lion, Rapier, Dagger, Sabre, Nomad and Deltic engines.  Apparently Penn’s association with FB Halford up to 1942 later resulted in the single sided supercharger impeller for the Sabre VII engine being ‘scaled up’ for use within the centrifugal compressor of the De Havilland Goblin and Ghost turbo jets

Engine supercharging was actively pursued by Napiers from 1947 at the express wish of EE and DNS Chairman Sir George Nelson.  English Electric were expanding their diesel-electric railway locomotive business and he recognised the need for higher powered locomotives.  So it was down to the leadership of A.J. Penn to produce suitable centrifugal impeller turboblowers with Lionel Elford as aerodynamic designer of the centrifugal compressors and turbines.

The first recorded design for a Napier propeller aero gas-turbine engine was the small E127 Napier Nymph 500shp prototype carried out at Acton from May 1945.

The E125 Napier Nomad I engine which first ran in 1949 had an 11 stage axial compressor feeding into a centrifugal one, these being driven by three turbine stages.  The links below describe the various gas-turbine engines produced by the Company.

Napier Nymph
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Napier Nomad 1 installed in Avro Lincoln SX973. Image 6083 March 1952