Public Information Films
Introduction | About this period | Timeline | Film index


The Wonder Jet


To view this film, you will require Adobe Flash 9 or higher and must have Javascript enabled.

Director Unknown
Duration 19min 14sec
Release Date 1950
Sponsor Central Office of Information for Ministry of Supply
Synopsis Behind the jet engine of today lies a story of British pioneering...
Text version of this film


The development of the 'jet propulsion gas-turbine', otherwise known as the jet engine, transformed flying in the post war-era. This was both in military and commercial terms.

Covering the story from the 1920s, The Wonder Jet follows Air Commodore Sir Frank Whittle. Sir Frank plays himself in the film. It moves from his days as a young Royal Air Force (RAF) cadet struggling against all obstacles to realise his dream of the jet engine. Whittle did not produce the world's first jet plane. This honour goes to German Hans von Ohain with the Heinkel He 178 on 27 August 1939. However, Whittle greatly contributed to the advancement of the jet engine, an invention that has proved vital to the modern age.

Whittle's first engine, the Power Jet W.1, was fitted to the British aircraft Gloster Meteor G.40. The first test flight took place on 15 May 1941, although, it did not become operational until 1944.

After the Second World War the jet engine gradually replaced the propeller in squadron after squadron of the RAF. The Canberra, Britain's first jet bomber, entered service in 1951. This was the same year as the public information film Wing to Wing, showcased the RAF's worldwide commitments and new jet aircraft.

Copyright and access

Preview film screenshots (Opens in a new window)