The Spitfire Site

A Tribute to Britains Finest Fighter

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Author Topic: Merlin engineer Percy Hambleton  (Read 3081 times)
Posts: 2

« on: March 14, 2010, 04:01:28 AM »

My grandfather, a mechanical engineer from New Zealand, worked for Rolls Royce on the Merlin engine from 1942-45.

He was Percy Joseph Hambleton, and prior to that he worked at our family's foundry Dispatch Engineering, Greymouth, NZ.

He described his job something like this to me:
"We'd get the latest version of the engine and put it on a brake stand and open the throttle all the way. The engine would roar, and then it would get red hot, and sooner or later something would go BANG! We let the engine cool down, tore it apart, and improved whatever had broken, and then tested another."

He met my grandmother Avis there, and my mother was born in Lancashire in 1945. She is now one of the foremost nursing researchers in the world.

My grandfather was an adventurous man. In 1976 or so, volunteering for the New Zealand parks service, he was part of a three-man team verifying the safety of a trail on Mount Cook at the end of winter. It turns out the trail was not safe: they fell a thousand feet, and only Percy survived.

I grew up in North America and rarely had the chance to see him, but in 1980 he got me interested in airplanes when we built a balsa- and rubber-band airplane. It was the first airframe I ever built; I am an avid airfan and a rabid modeler to this day.

Thanks, Grandpa.


UPDATE: Apparently I was mistaken: He did not arrive in England until later in the war, and he did not work on the Merlin engine but rather on the Derwent and Nene turbojets... and he did not meet Avis there, but in NZ. (Dec. 2010)
« Last Edit: December 16, 2010, 04:51:50 PM by Poor_Coco » Logged
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