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Building Engines for War: A Comparative Study of British and American Air-Cooled, Radial Aircraft Engine Production During World War II

During World War II the manufacture of aircraft engines achieved levels of production that were significant magnitudes greater than pre-war levels. From turning out some thirty engines a month, the Bristol and Wright factories and their associated automotive partners produced more than 3000 engines a month. These companies achieved this dramatic shift in quantity production of these extremely complicated machines using large numbers of semi-skilled and un-skilled labour. This required modifications to the methods of mass production, specifically adaptations in production and process engineering. The common narrative is that this switch was effortless, but the reality is that it was far more complicated than is generally understood.

1st Supervisor: Professor David Edgerton

2nd Supervisor: Professor Joe Maiolo


Edward Young graduated from Harvard University with a BA in Political Science in 1971 and received an MA in Political Science from the University of Washington in 1976. After university he served two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Thailand. He spent eight years as a commercial banker with assignments in New York and Hong Kong before joining Moody’s Investor’s Service, a leading bond rating agency. He spent twenty years with Moody’s as a financial analyst and managing director, with assignments in New York, London, Tokyo and Hong Kong before retiring in 2004.

In 2015 Young completed an MA in the History of Warfare (with distinction) at King’s College London. He is currently working on a PhD in the History of Technology at King’s College. Young is the author of fifteen books and monographs on aviation and military history. He is interested in the history of production, particularly as it relates to the history of aviation during the interwar and World War II periods, and the development of military and commercial aviation.


The Tenth Air Force in World War II: Strategy, Command and Operations (Forthcoming 2020)

Osprey Combat Aircraft 126: B-25 Mitchell Units of the CBI (Osprey Publishing Ltd., 2018)

Osprey Duel 73: F4U Corsair vs. Ki-84 Frank: 1944-45 (Osprey Publishing Ltd., 2016)

Death From Above: The 7th Bombardment Group in Peace and War (Schiffer Publishing, 2014)

Osprey Duel 62: F6F Hellcat vs. A6M Zero-sen: Pacific Theater 1943-44 (Osprey Publishing 2014)

Osprey Aircraft of the Aces 119: F6F Hellcat Aces of VF-9 (Osprey Publishing Ltd., 2014)

Osprey Duel 54: F4F Wildcat vs. A6M Zero (Osprey Publishing Ltd., 2013)

Osprey Duel 41: B-24 Liberator vs. Ki-43 Oscar-China and Burma 1943 (Osprey Publishing Ltd. 2012)

Osprey Aircraft of the Aces 109: American Aces Against the Kamikaze (Osprey Publishing Ltd., 2012)

Postcard History of Japanese Aviation, 1910-1945 (Schiffer Publishing 2012)

Osprey Combat Aircraft 87: B-24 Liberator Units of the CBI (Osprey Publishing Ltd. 2011)

Osprey Warrior 141: Merrill’s Marauders (Osprey Publishing Ltd. 2009)

Osprey Campaign 136: Meiktila 1945: The Battle to Liberate Burma (Osprey Publishing Ltd. 2004)

Air Commando Fighters of World War II (Specialty Press 2000)

Curtiss-Wright: Greatness and Decline with Louis R. Eltscher (Twayne Publishing 1998)

Aerial Nationalism: A History of Aviation in Thailand (Smithsonian Institution Press 1995)


Papers Given:

Presentation to the Royal Aeronautical Society 30 April 2019


Grants, Awards, and Prizes:

Sir Richard Trainor Fellowship 2016-2018


Professional affiliations and activities:

Society for the History of Technology

Society for Military History

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