Frederick William Lanchester

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Frederick William Lanchester (1868–1946) was a British automotive and aeronautical engineer. He was a Fellow of the Royal Society and received the Gold Medal of the Royal Aeronautical Society in 1926.

He attended Hartley College, Southampton, and then the Royal College of Science. He worked in a patent office in 1888 and submitted his first patent (for 'hatching, shading and geometrical design') that year.[1] In 1889 he started working at the Forward Gas-Engine Co. in Birmingham. There, he developed the pendulum governor and the Lanchester engine starter. He went on to develop an automobile on his own.[2][3]

Lanchester experimented with model gliders and developed a paper on vortexes in flight. This paper was read in 1895 to the Birmingham Natural History and Philosophical Society, and submitted to and rejected by the Physical Society in September 1897. By the time Lanchester published his two volumes of Aerial Flight (1907–1908), Ludwig Prandtl in Germany had advanced some similar ideas. However, his work still made a significant contribution to the understanding of aerodynamics.[2][4]

In 1909 Lanchester became consulting engineer to Daimler Motor Company and its parent company Birmingham Small Arms Company.[2]



(Note: Lanchester also held more than a hundred patents internationally, most dealing with engines and other mechanical technology related—potentially, not exclusively—to aircraft.)

Patents whose inventor or applicant is Frederick William LanchesterPublications by or about Frederick William Lanchester Publications by or about F. W. Lanchester Patents whose inventor or applicant is Frederick W. Lanchester


  1. This claim appears on w:Frederick William Lanchester and other places (e.g. Grace's Guide, Daily Telegraph) which may have copied it from Wikipedia. It's sourced to Rolt, L.T.C. (1962). Great Engineers which source still needs to be checked directly or confirmed elsewhere.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 H.R. Ricardo, "Frederick William Lanchester, 1868–1946", Obituary Notices of the Fellows of the Royal Society, May 1948.
  3. "Frederick William Lanchester: British Engineer", Encyclopaedia Brittanica, updated 4 March 2019, accessed 18 April 2019.
  4. "Dr. F. W. Lanchester: Death of a Pioneer in Aerodynamic Aerofoil Theory", Flight, 14 March 1946, p. 266.
Names Frederick William Lanchester
Birth date 1868-10-23
Death date 1946-03-08
Countries GB
Locations London; Birmingham
Tech areas aeroydnamics, airfoil, automobile