Harry Ricardo

The success of his tank engines marked a turning point for Ricardo. In 1917, Ricardo was re-united with his mentor at Cambridge, Bertram Hopkinson, who invited him to become his Deputy at the Department of Military Aeronautics, with a responsibility for aero-engine research. In this position he mixed with the founding fathers of the British aircraft industry such as Henry Royce and Geoffrey de Havilland.

Ricardo designed the sleeve valve aero-engines used by aircraft in the First World War, as well as the well known 'Comet' Diesel Engine which by 1936 had been licensed to a large number of companies for use in trucks, buses, tractors and cranes as well as private cars and taxis. This meant that Britain led the world in the field of high speed diesels for road transport at this time. This advantage was lost to the continent as a result of the heavy tax imposed on diesel fuel in the budget of 1938.

Harry Ricardo was knighted in 1948 in recognition of his work in the field of internal combustion engineering. Ricardo Consulting Engineers is still the world's foremost internal combustion engine research establishment.

For more details of Ricardo's life and work see the CUED Exhibition.


A full account of Ricardo's life and work, from which much of the above text has been abstracted has been recently published. "Engines and Enterprise, the life and work of Sir Harry Ricardo" by John Reynolds, publ. Sutton Publishing Ltd, Phoenix Mill, Stroud, Gloucestershire.