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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Jet Engines, Voronezh & Peter the Great

There are only six companies in the world who build full size jet engines:
  • Pratt & Whitney, USA
  • General Electric, USA
  • Rolls Royce, UK
  • CFM International, a joint venture between GE and SNECMA of France
  • Aviadvigatel, Russia
  • Ivchenko-Progress, Ukraine
China has recently committed a hundred billion yuan to developing their own.

I find it curious that any number of countries can build nuclear bombs and ICBM-s, but cannot build a decent jet engine, and by decent I just mean one that will hold together for some number of hours. The pumps used in liquid fuel rockets are essentially jet engines, but they only have to run for ten minutes or so. When the Germans introduced the Me-262 jet fighter towards the end of WW2, the engines only lasted 20 hours before they need to be overhauled. A duration of hundreds of hours, or even thousands of hours, would be preferable for an aircraft engine, but if 20 is all you've got, well, you make do. But nobody outside of the big six is even doing that, or if they are, they aren't telling anybody. I dunno, maybe they think 20 hours isn't anything to brag about.

If I built a jet engine that ran for 20 hours I would be pretty proud of myself. Of course my neighbors would probably have me shut down for disturbing the peace if I let it run more than about ten minutes.

Anyway, I decided to look up this Ukrainian outfit. There seem to be two of them, both in the same city (Zaporizhia), both building the same thing. I'm reading a short history of Lutsk Repair Plant "Motor" that lists four or five moves during WW2. Think maybe the invading Germans had something to do with that? In any case, they mention how they supplied aircraft for the battle at Voronezh, which I had never heard of. Seems the Germans used it as a big staging area for the battle of Stalingrad.

"Goto Predestination" 1701 Russia

Reading a little more I find that this is where Peter the Great built the first Russian Naval Fleet which he used to drive the Turks out of Azov around 1700. Pete also visited London to buy warships around this time, at least he did in Neal Stephenson's System of the World.

Voronezh is near the top center. Azov is not shown, but is just downstream from Rostov on the Sea of Azov. Google Maps does a poor job of showing rivers.

Voronezh looks like a really weird place to build big sailing ships being as there is no open water for hundreds of miles. All there is is the River Don, and it looks like you have pert near a thousand miles of river to traverse before you get to Azov and your fight with the Turks. One description of the battle mentions galleys, which are just big rowboats, which would make a lot more sense on a river. But hey, who am I to complain if Pete wants to sail giant square rigged sailing ships down the river?

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