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Icon:Short SC 1 aircraft, 1957

related ingenious images © Science Museum/Science and Society Picture Library

The Short SC 1 was built to try out ideas for jet lift and control in a practical flying aircraft, following on from experiments with the Flying Bedstead test rig.

The SC 1 employed the ideas of A. A. Griffith, who had been one of the first researchers to devise an aircraft gas turbine while at the Royal Aircraft Establishment, Farnborough, in 1926.

After the Second World War, as Chief Scientist at Rolls-Royce, Griffith advocated the idea of separate lift jet engines for vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) and Rolls-Royce designed special compact, lightweight engines for this role. The SC 1 has four Rolls-Royce RB 108 engines mounted vertically in the fuselage and another, below the tail fin, for forward flight.

Like the earlier Flying Bedstead, the lift engines also provide compressor air to four puffer jets at the wingtips, nose and tail, to control the aircraft in hovering flight.

Later VTOL developments abandoned the lift jet concept and the current successful Harrier type uses a single engine with swivelling nozzles for hover and forward flight. However, the SC 1 was an important step and made a useful contribution to control systems, auto-stabilisation and to piloting techniques for VTOL operation.

Inv. 1971-197
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