Miss Shilling’s orifice

Today is International Day of Women and Girls in Science, so wanted to share with you Beatrice shilling

Beatrice Shilling was a celebrated aeronautical engineer and successful motorcycle racer. She made her mark in the male dominated world of engineering by correcting a serious defect in the Rolls-Royce Merlin engine during the Second World War. .

Beatrice joined the Royal Aircraft Establishment at Farnborough in 1936 and soon became the leading specialist in aircraft carburettors. During the Second World War, she worked on a serious problem affecting the Rolls Royce Merlin engines which were used in the allied Hurricanes and Spitfires. The engines, unlike those of enemy fighters, would misfire or cut out altogether when a pilot was diving steeply. This was costing allied lives and Beatrice and her team worked tirelessly to find a solution. Eventually she came up with the design for a simple but ingenious device, a small brass disc with a hole in the middle, which fixed into the engine’s carburettor and was able to reduce fuel deprivation to the engine. It became known as ‘Miss Shilling’s orifice’ and after testing demonstrated its effectiveness, was used on all allied aircraft. It drastically reduced engine cut out but Beatrice continued to improve and develop the design in order to eliminate it entirely.


Beatrice Shilling worked for the Royal Aircraft Establishment until her retirement in 1969 reaching a senior post and receiving an OBE for her efforts during the war. She held a doctorate from the University of Surrey, a CEng and was a member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and the Women’s Engineering Society.

Beatrice Shilling on Norton motorcycle


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