Friday, 2 September 2011

Credit where due

Charles Kettering:  Liberator of womankind.


Ironmistress said...

Well, there is always the Coffman starter.

Given to the choices of crank, Coffman and Kettering, I'd choose the Kettering starter.

eon said...

Another reason "Boss Ket" (as he was later known) developed the electric starter was that he considered crank-starting to be dangerous. He had good reason; a friend of his was attempting to crank a balky engine, and when it caught the crank kicked back (as they were wont to do), hitting him in the face and breaking his jaw. IIRC, he died of infectious complications.

Kettering did not consider that an acceptable risk.

Kettering also had an influence on early aviation. His team developed one of the earliest (hand-cranked) retractable landing gear systems for aircraft; the same basic system was still in use in early WW II, on the Grumman Wildcat fighter.

During WW I, Kettering developed the Kettering Aerial Torpedo aka "the Bug", a pilotless biplane with an early gyroscopic platform guidance system (a forerunner of inertial guidance). Powered by a small gas engine, it was designed to fly up to 200 miles at about 90mph, and then a clockwork mechanism that counted the engine revolutions would pull the pins holding the wings on, dropping the rest of it- including its 100-lb HE warhead- on the target.

During WW II Kettering developed an improved monoplane version, mainly made of plywood, with a 200-lb warhead and 400 mile range. He offered it to the British Purchasing Commission in 1940, but was turned down on the grounds that it was "too farfetched". I wonder if he "I told you so" when V-1 buzz bombs started hitting London four years later. (Ref; "The Secret War" by Gerald Pawle.)