Bristol Proteus - Design and Development

Design and Development

Design work on the Proteus started in September 1944, during the course of development the gas generator section was built as a small turbojet which became known as the Bristol Phoebus. This engine was test flown in May 1946 fitted to the bomb bay of an Avro Lincoln, performance was poor due to airflow problems. The centrifugal compressor was redesigned but similar problems were encountered when the Proteus started ground testing on 25 January 1947.

The original Proteus Mk.600 delivered 3,780 hp (2,820 kW), and was going to be used on the early versions of the Britannia and the Saunders-Roe Princess flying-boat. The versions on the Princess were mounted in a large frame driving a single propeller through a gearbox, and were known as the Coupled Proteus. The Coupled Proteus was also intended to be used on the Mk.II versions of the Bristol Brabazon, but this project was cancelled. Only three Princesses were built, only one of which flew, and by the time the Britannia was ready for testing the manufacturer had decided to equip it with the later Mk.700 Proteus instead.

During development, there were severe problems with compressor blades, turbine blades and bearings failing at even low power output levels. This led to the famous quote of Proteus Chief Engineer Frank Owner to Chief Engineer of the Engine Division Stanley Hooker: "You know, Stanley, when we designed the Proteus I decided we should make the engine with the lowest fuel consumption in the world, regardless of its weight and bulk. So far, we have achieved the weight and bulk!"

At this point the Proteus proved to have troubling icing problems, causing the engine and aircraft projects to be delayed while solutions were found. The Mk.705 of 3,900 hp (2,900 kW) was the first version to see widespread production on the Bristol Britannia 100 and some 300 series. The Mk.755 of 4,120 hp (3,070 kW) was used on the 200 series (not built) and other 300's, and the Mk.765 of 4,445 hp (3,315 kW) was used on the RAF's Series 250 aircraft.

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