The vision of propeller planes is much older than the airplane. Humans have been flying for about 100 years, but envisioned propeller-driven flight for six centuries. Leonardo Da Vinci correctly designed a helicopter 500 years before there was an engine small enough and light enough to make any aircraft fly. But most discoveries about propellers took place in the water.
Propellers have been used to move water since 220 A.D. By 1770, they were moving small ships. The Turtle, a semi-submersible craft operated in combat against the British by the Continental Navy was powered by hand-cranked propellers. By 1800, propeller-driven ships were rapidly developing with ever. Economics motivated scientific study of propellers since efficient shipping was making countries into world powers. By the late 1800s, propulsion science had concluded that props could make an aircraft fly-if only there was an engine to turn them.
William and Orville Wright succeeded because they were able to understand propellers. Small gasoline engines were available by the early 1900s, but it wasn’t power that made the Wright Brothers succeed with their first flights. Long, thin propeller blades were the reason their plane flew because this type of prop was so efficient at moving air in a concentrated fashion to give their plane enough speed to lift. Their successful plane had two props turned with belts by a single engine that was rated at a mere twelve horsepower.
Regulations and modern propellers
Things are different nowadays with modern propellers needing regular servicing and overhaul. The likes of Hartzell have a recommended global team of Propeller overhaul specialists. Those is the UK could use Brinkley Propeller Overhaul in Bedfordshire.
Wooden propellers would rule the skies until the end of World War I. By this time, engine technology had grown by phenomenal proportions, and so did the ability to craft metal propellers. By the early 1930s, constant-speed propellers and variable-pitch propellers became standard on most planes. These developments wiped away the prior limits on aircraft development. Most notably, they changed the entire approach to military strategy.
Airplanes became the foundation of modern warfare. Fighter planes flew at over 400 mph, and four-prop bombers crossed oceans with full payloads. Germany never reached British shores despite dominance in the ocean and on the ground. The outnumbered Brits had invested more in planes than on the ground and their superior Spitfires slaughtered the Luftwaffe. The powerful allied prop bombers the Germans never invested in finished the job in Europe.
After the war, propeller technology advanced and props morphed into flower shapes that let turboprop planes speeds high enough that they could replace small jets in the next 20 years.