The jet engine is a reaction engine which discharges a jet. The jet propels the engine as it generates thrust through jet propulsion.
The jet engine is a technology which has evolved throughout history. The first recorded example of a jet engine was developed in ancient Greece in the form of an ‘Aeolipile’ or ‘Heroes Engine’. This is a radial steam turbine, an experiment to ‘judge the mighty and wonderful laws of the heavens and the nature of winds’ as written by the roman author Vitruvius.
The pressure on countries to develop better weapons in WWII propelled the development of the jet engine. As it was apparent that propeller designed engines had limits on a fighter aircraft’s performance.
The first jet fighter to enter WWII was the Luftwaffe Messerschmitt Me 262. When this fighter was combat operational in 1944 it was the fastest fighter in the air, with much better performance than any Allied fighter. But because of trouble with the newly developed jet engines, and the late availability of the aircraft, they had a negligible effect on the final outcome of the war.