Ms Schilling’s Orifice – Beatrice Shilling

Beatrice Shilling had some serious stones, at least in the metaphorical sense.

OBE, PhD, CEng, Shilling crammed a whole lot of awesome into her 81 years on earth until her death in November of 1990.

Shilling, an aeronautical engineer, was perhaps most famous for her work in correcting a serious defect in the Rolls-Royce Merlin aircraft engine during the Second World War, was also a well-known motorcycle and automobile racer.


Beatrice Shilling

It was Shilling who, when faced with the dicey task of fixing a carburetor problem on the Merlin aircraft, came up with an elegant solution that was referred to as the “R.A.E. restrictor.”

Essentially a small metal disc with a hole in the middle, her device was placed into the Merlin engine’s carburetor to prevent fuel starvation during taxing aerial maneuvers. Allowing RAF pilots to perform quick “negative g” maneuvers without loss of engine power, Shilling’s solution was, as you might guess, immensely popular with pilots unhappy at the prospect of plunging to earth at the most inopportune moments during the stress of aerial combat.

In honor of her efforts to preserve their ongoing survival, pilots named her device (demonstrating a characteristic English sensibility and dry wit) ‘Miss Shilling’s orifice.’

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