"...an appalling sense of responsibility hung over me and never left me for the rest of the war, the figure of a pilot killed by engine failure leaning over my shoulder, like some ghostly conscience, whenever I was at work.
More information (inc Press Release and Flyer) below
WO Bentley is best known for engineering the Bentley car - the ultimate luxury sporting marque known for high performance and quality. Five glorious Le Mans victories from the 1920s onwards established the brand, and a more recent win in 2003 re-ignited its
But WO Bentley's genius shone first in the very early days of flight. The faster, stronger
aero-engines he developed saved pilot lives and helped Britain to victory in WW1.
When the name WO Bentley is mentioned most people visualise large green cars thundering down the Mulsanne straight on their way to another Le Mans victory. However WO was not all British Racing Green and laurel wreaths, he cut his engine design teeth firstly on railway engines as a Premium Apprentice with the Great Northern Railway Company (GNRC) and then on aeroplane and tank engines.
This book focuses on his work with aero-engines and explores the significant contribution that WO made to the war effort.
WO Bentley was not just responsible for the Bentley Rotary 1 (BR1) and Bentley Rotary 2 (BR2) but his ideas ensured that Rolls-Royce and Sunbeam aero-engines were fitted with aluminium pistons and that 30 more BHP were wrung from the French designed Clerget engines.
His tenacious engineering approach, and insistence on better performance, demonstrated by countless tests and re-tests before allowing an engine into production, was recognised for saving many pilot's lives during the Great War.
"Thus to be posted to a B.R. squadron soon became the ambition of every knowledgeable scout pilot." RL Davidson, New Statesman, July 1926 (Read the full article >>)
Many previously unpublished references including hand-written letters and illustrations.
First major UK publication to cover the history of Bentley rotary aero engines.
Publicity via key influencers, museum and heritage outlets
The WO Bentley Memorial Foundation published this book to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the First World War and the impact of WO's engineering innovations. The project of research (how the engines developed and what effect they had on the people who used them and had to work on them) continues as we reach out for further memories and archival contributions.
Chapter 1: The invention of the new rotary engine in the early 1900s, setting the scene for WO's involvement in this new field.
Chapter 2: The advantages a rotary engine had over other aeroplane technologies of the time, what kind of planes benefited, and how the engineering worked.
Chapters 3/4: WO's development work on the Bentley AR1 / BR1 and the BR2 at Chiswick and Humbers - the issues, testing, specifications and aeroplanes fitted.
Chapters 5: An illustrated history of the original engine manufacturing firms.
Chapters 6/7: Update of surviving rotary engines, Sopwith survivors and new build replicas.
Appendices: Scans of original manuals, parts list and pictures of the BR1 tool kit. Videos and links to online video resources of the planes in flight are provided on the CD-ROM.
Download Printable Info: WO Bentley Aero Engines Advance Information Sheet PDF
The results of the wider research project will be disseminated through lectures to schools, colleges and clubs and displays in museums.
We would like to hear from anyone who has any knowledge of the manufacturing organisations, squadrons, pilots, ground crew, Tank crews, maintenance staff and others who were impacted by WO's work.
If you can help, please use the form above to contact us.
"A thoroughly recommended read, not only for those whose interest has been stirred by the centenary of World War One, but anyone with an interest in engineering."
Ian Craighead, Rolls-Royce Heritage Trust
Dr Tom Dine has a PhD in Analytical Chemistry and has pursued a career in the Pharmaceutical industry as a Compliance Consultant. His interest in all things mechanical dates back to childhood and the family's AC 2 Litre Saloon. A diet of Biggles books was reinforced when he found out his Grandfather had worked in the design teams at the Royal Aircraft Factory working on such aircraft as the SE 5.
He studied at Kingston Polytechnic, part of which was the old Sopwith factory and was conveniently close to the Thames Ditton AC factory, as the 2 litre had by then become his. It was also convenient for the Track at Brooklands for AC Owners Club driving tests.
His interest in the AC mark has survived well as he is still, after some thirty plus years in the role, the AC Owners Club 2 Litre Saloon Registrar and has a vintage AC Royal which he is currently restoring. He has been a member of a selection of motor clubs including the VCC, MGOC, ACOC, VSCC and more recently the Bentley Drivers Club.
The WO Bentley Memorial Foundation commemorates the day the guns fell silent with a homage to the consequences of WO Bentley's work on Rotary Aero Engines carried out during the First World War.
Meandering through people, aircraft and events, a melange of individual stories centred around the best rotary engines ever designed.
Now available from the WO Bentley Memorial Foundation, is '100 Years Ago' by Dr Tom Dine, the WOBMF Honorary Archivist.
Tom’s latest book mixes significant new research with material from his columns in the Bentley Driver Club Review's 'Foundation Corner' section as a homage to the results of WO Bentley’s work on rotary aero engines in WWI.
To purchase a copy for £19.99 plus P+P, contact the Bentley Drivers Club Office on 01295 738886 or Email Us.
Email: Email the Bentley Drivers Club Office to order this book. The WO Bentley Memorial Foundation will contact you shortly.