The Industrial Gas Turbine

The Industrial Gas Turbine
Industrial Gas Turbine Applications

Sunday, 23 January 2011

The History and Development of The Industrial Gas Turbine (since 1940)

The History and Development of the Industrial Gas Turbine - Since 1940

Updated 24 June 16

Invitation to contributors:  The work on researching and publishing this history of The Industrial Gas Turbine continues. Contributors are cordially invited to make further comments and provide additional contributions to add to the industrial gas turbine archive. Any comments on the listing of gas turbines will be appreciated. Recollections of earlier times are welcomed as together we can add to the background of the gas turbine development and the people involved. 

One supporter has just sent the author a copy of Practical Mechanics from May 1946. This has an article on the development of the aircraft jet engine. Perhaps you have documents or photos that you would like to contribute to the archive. Send in anything you think will help. 

During 2011 the Author prepared a comprehensive history of the development of the Industrial Gas Turbine covering the first 70 years in the progress of the gas turbine for land based, industrial and marine applications. The history of more than 80 engineering companies is included. This story started around 1940 when, following the success of Brown Boveri and the Whittle aircraft engine, with UK governmental support, during the 1940's, a number of British companies enthusiastically entered the race to exploit the concept of the gas turbine for power generation, propulsion and other purposes.  The companies involved included British, European, US, Japanese and others. 

This has proved to be a really an exciting story and one which turned out to be a race with many challengers. The work of the early Pioneers has also been reviewed and so far more than 26 individual pioneer contributions leading to the success of the industrial gas turbine have been identified. This historical account, being more than being simply a historical account, has been a collaboration of many individuals all of whom have willingly shared their experiences, knowledge, information and advice. The written account gives due recognition to all these contributors.

Several different technological approaches as well as progress in gas turbine operational conditions and performance development have been reviewed. The many different applications of the industrial gas turbine have been researched including power generation, mechanical drive, marine propulsion, road transport, locomotive engines and others. The different types of fuels used in the industrial gas turbine are mentioned. Research Institutions have been listed as well as listing a number of notable gas turbine installations being described for this period of the industrial gas turbine story. 

In preparing the history, in addition to the contributions by all the Contributors, the Author has drawn on the archives of professional institutions, historical documents, and a number of other sources. An extensive list of references is has been provided with the history.

Part 1 has already been published during 2011 and the next part of the story is being prepared during 2016. It is planned that this will cover the following 25 years (1990-2015) to bring the industrial gas turbine up to its current advanced state of development and a view of the future. This is a story that continues with present day designers striving to reach ever increasing targets of performance, higher operating conditions and increasing flexibility of operation.

Ronald Hunt CEng FIMechE FIDGTE
Power + Energy Associates
Morpeth United Kingdom
Web site:

Since the Blog was first posted in January 2011 the following presentations have been made:

IDGTE in Peterborough January 2011 
Newcomen Society in Newcastle upon Tyne April 2011
IMechE IET joint meeting in Lincoln April 2011
Cranfield University in May 2011

IMechE at Lutterworth in November 2011
IMechE at Brooklands in January 2012
APPP Bangkok Thailand in February 2012
IDGTE MENA Region Tunisia in April 2012
BSI Gas Turbine Committee March 2013
Cranfield University in May 2013
IDGTE Gas Turbine Conference Nov 2013 - display
IDGTE Gas Turbine Conference Nov 2015 - display


This history and development of the gas turbine documents the achievements of the gas turbine manufacturers listed below. Each of these have been studied and the developments of each manufacturer analysed:

W H Allen  - United Kingdom
ACEC Ateliers De Constructions
AEG Kanis  - Germany
Allison Gas Turbine Division
Allis Chalmers USA
Alsthom Turbines - France
Ansaldo Energia - Italy
Associated Electrical Industries (AEI) - United Kingdom
Austin Motors - United Kingdom
Bristol Siddeley - United Kingdom
British Thomson Houston - United Kingdom
Brown Boveri (BBC) - Switzerland
Brush Electrical - United Kingdom
Bladon Jets - United Kingdom
BMW  - Germany
Budworth Turbines - United Kingdom
Bharat Heavy Electricals - India
Centrax Gas Turbines - United Kingdom
C A Parsons - United Kingdom
Chrysler Corporation USA
Cooper Bessemer/ Cooper Rolls USA
Curtiss Wright USA
Dresser Industries USA
Elliott Turbomachinery USA
English Electric - United Kingdom
Escher Wyss - Switzerland
Ebara Corporation - Japan
Fiat Termomeccanica - Italy
Ford - Mid Continent USA
Fuji Electric – Japan
General Electric Company - United Kingdom
General Electric USA
Garrett Corporation USA
Hitachi – Japan
IHI - Japan
Ingersoll Rand USA
John Brown - United Kingdom
Japan Gas Turbine
Kongsberg - Norway
Kawasaki Heavy Industries - Japan
Klockner Humboldt Deutz (KHD) - Germany
Leyland Gas Turbines - United Kingdom
Metropolitan Vickers - United Kingdom
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) - Japan
Mitsui Engineering and Shipbuilding - Japan
Nuovo Pignone - Italy
Turbotecnica - France
Orenda Engines USA
OPRA Optimal
Rolls-Royce Industrial and Marine - United Kingdom
Rover Company - United Kingdom
Ruston & Hornsby - United Kingdom
Siemens - Germany
Skoda - Czech Republic
Solar Turbines USA
Stal-Laval Turbine Company - Sweden
Sulzer Brothers - Switzerland
Toshiba Corporation - Japan
Turbomeca - France
United Technologies USA
Volvo  - Sweden
Westinghouse USA
Waukesha Motor Company USA

Author's Note. All contributions to this history are most welcome.  PLEASE post  your comments here on the Blog and share your experience. Email your comments and questions. Send in any related information and photographs to further the development of this important archive. Thanking you for your interest. 

Ronald Hunt

Postal address:  PO Box 75, Morpeth, Northumberland, United Kingdom NE61 2WG

Blog updated:



  1. Congratulations for this very informative initiative!

    I think this exciting story can be definitely appreciated by anyone who has an interest in science and technology, not just engineers.

    I hope to see more posts in the future. Best of luck to Mr Hunt and this blog.

  2. Dear Mr Hunt,

    Thank you for the inspiring presentation at Cranfield University during the Gas Turbine Week. Even tough the presentation did not comprise many details, it let us see a larger view of the history of the gas turbine industry.
    I would like to kindly ask you to post all the papers you mentioned during your lecture that gas turbine engineers should read.

    Thank you very much in advance.

    Kind regards,