Beatrice Shilling

SHILLING, Beatrice, English electrical engineer, 1909-1990. In 1936 she was working for the Royal Aircraft Establishment (Farnborough). After a time in the technical publications dept, she transferred to the Engine Dept. In the Battle of Britain it became clear that Hurricanes and Spitfires suffered from a fuel-feed problem when in a nose-dive during combat. This was due to negative-g in a dive causing fuel-starvation, followed by positive-g causing engine flooding when pulling out of the dive. This put them at a disadvantage vs. the Messerschmidt 109f fighter. The difference was fuel-injection, which the Germans had. Shilling saw the reasons for the problem and proposed a temporary solution, which was to put a disk in the fuel-line to the carburettor. This disk had a small hole in it which introduced a pressure gradient, not exactly fuel injection but helpful. Tilly, as she was known, derived instant fame within the RAF/RAE for this solution. Actually only a few conversions were done, the real answer was the Hobson Injection-Carburettor, which was rapidly developed after Tilly’s precise definition of the cause of the problem. Her restrictor-disk was called Shilling’s Penny (size) and other choice names. After WW2 she did some flying herself, staying with the RAE throughout her career. From 1945-52 she was in the Supersonics and Guided Weapons Divisions. Then, until retirement she worked on engineering physics. Tilly was awarded an OBE in 1948, and an honorary doctorate in 1970. Early in her career she was a racing motorcyclist at Silverstone, and later raced cars.

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Barrie Blake-Coleman's

in-depth biographic article:

The Fabulous 'Tilly' Shilling !