100/150 GRADE FUEL

Initial Testing and Proposals

During 1942 and 1943 the British were testing aviation fuels that allowed for higher engine powers in their fighter aircraft than was possible using the standard 100/130 grade aviation fuel then in use.

Testing of a Spitfire IX by Rolls Royce, Hucknall in October 1943 determined:

  • The increase of boost pressure to 25 lbs/sq.inch provides a considerable improvement in the low altitude performance of the Spitfire IX aircraft, the necessary modifications to achieve this being comparitively simple. 1

The same aircraft was tested by the Aircraft and Armament Experimental Establishment (A.& A.E.E.), Boscombe Down in November 1943, the conclusion being:

  • An increase of about 950 ft/min in rate of climb and about 30 mph in all-out level speed is achieved by the increase of boost from +18 lb/sq.in. to +25 lb/sq.in. 2

The USAAF and Rolls Royce discussed the probable performance gains to be anticipated in the P-51B with improved fuel (160 grade) during a conference at Rolls Royce, Derby on October 23, 1943. These discussions took place six weeks before the P-51B first went operational. It was noted "that a maximum speed of about 450 MPH is predicted at 21,000 feet - optimum high critical altitude for use against the present FW-190 fighters. 3

Testing continued, with an Air Ministry Memorandum on Introduction into Service Use of 150 Grade Aviation Fuel of 25 January, 1944 summing up the position with respect to performance, production and requirements. The Memorandum concluded in part:

  • On the basis of the figures used, it is apparent that the earliest a substantial quantity of fuel can be allocated, i.e. 40,000 or 60,000 tons for Home Based Fighters is May/June. This would still permit the allocation of one month’s consumption and one month’s reserves, i.e. 73,000 tons to A.E.A.F. Fighters in June. 4

USAAF Materiel Command held a "Conference on National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics Test Program to Investigate 150 Grade Fuels" on 27-28, January 1944. It was concluded that "The program outlined should permit conclusive data to be obtained and should indicate the relative advantages of the various high octane fuel components for the preparation of satisfactory rich and lean rating fuels. It should also indicate the military value of these fuels for long range patrol or bombardment operation". It was recommended that "the program outlined should be carried out as expeditiously as is possible".

Using the fuel for Operation Overlord, the invasion of France, was being actively considered at the highest levels as of February 1944. General Dwight D. Eisenhower, commanding SHAEF, wrote to Army Chief of Staff General George C. Marshall and General Henry H. Arnold, head of the Air Force on 11 February, 1944 of the importance of using 150 fuel to the "fullest possible extent". 5 On 13 February, 1944 General Arnold replied that Xylidine, a necessary component for 150 grade fuel production, was being drummed for shipment and that information available to him "indicates satisfactory operation of Merlin and possibly R-2800 engines on this fuel". 6   On 21 February 1944 the Engineering Division of the US Army Air Force Materiel Command was instructed to initiate a test program on 104/150 Grade Fuel. 7

US Army Air Force Testing

Materiel Command

As of 16 March 1944 "Accumulation of engine test data subsequent to the 4th of March 1944, has resulted in the clearing of the following engines at the specified power ratings in accordance with the requirements of 7-1/2 hour W.E.R. run:" 8
W.E.R. Tests
  • War Emergency Rating Tests of V-1650-7 Engines Using 44-1 Fuel, 19 April 1944. 9
  • Preliminary 7-1/2 Hour War Emergency Rating Test of the Allison V-1710-91 Engine Operated on Grade 104/150 Fuel, 27 March 1944. 10
  • Attempted 7-1/2 Hr. War Emergency Rating of Allison V-1710-89 as Installed in P-38J Airplane Operated on Grade 104/150 Fuel, 22 April 1944. 11
  • Preliminary Report of 7-1/2 Hour War Emergency Test of Pratt & Whitney R-2800-63 Engine using Power Plant Fuel 44-1, 12 May 1944. 12

Flight Tests at Wright Field beginning 20 March 1944 found:

      1. Flight tests were started on P-38J, P-47D, and P-51B airplanes at Wright Field on approximately 20 March 1944 in order to measure the performance and note any effect on flight characteristics when flown with 44-1 fuel. Tests on the P-51B have been completed but tests on the P-38J and P-47D have not been completed to date.

      2. All tests were flown with the airplanes loaded to their maximum combat gross weight. The P-38J airplane tested was P-38J-15, AAF No. 43-28392, equipped with Allison V-1710-89 and 91 engines with Curtiss electric three blade propellers. Gross weight at take-off was 17,360 lbs. with the c.g. at 26.72%. The P-47D tested was AAF No. 42-26167 and was equipped with Pratt & Whitney R-2800-63 engine and an A-23 turbo regulator. Gross weight at take-off was 13,320 lbs. with the c.g. at 29.5%, gear up. The P-51B tested was the P-51B-15, AAF No. 43-24777 and was equipped with a Packard V-1650-7 engine with a 11 ft. 2 in., four blade constant speed propeller. Gross weight at take-off was approximately 9680 lbs. The weight included 265 gal. of fuel, full oil, and no ammunition (85 gal. in auxiliary tank instead of ballast for ammunition).

      3. There was no noticeable change in handling characteristics of any of the airplanes tested when operating at the higher powers which were obtainable with the 44-1 fuel. Only a slight increase in vibration was noted at the higher powers. On one long range test made with the P-51B, there was no apparent trouble due to the 44-1 fuel.

      4. All performance data obtained on the P-51B is included in the attached curves. It will be noted that all tests were run with the wing racks installed. Speeds would be approximately 12 mph faster with the wing racks removed as shown by the dash line curve on the Speed vs Altitude Curve. Approximately 16 MPH increases in speed below critical altitude and approximately 600 ft. per minute increase in rate of climb below critical altitude was obtained by using the 75” Hg. Manifold pressure allowed by 44-1 fuel. No tests were made on this airplane with standard fuel. 13

Speed vs Altitude   Rate of Climb vs Altitude

A Materiel Command Memorandum dated 13 May 1944 on "Preliminary Flight Tests of Fighter Aircraft Using PPF 441 Fuel at Increased War Emergency Rating" concluded:

Based on these preliminary flight tests, it is established that satisfactory operation is experienced on the P-47D airplane at 65" hg. M.A.P., on the P-51B airplane at 75" hg. M.A.P., and on the P-38J airplane at 70" hg. M.A.P. except in the case of the P-47D airplane in extended climbs with water injection. 14

Another Materiel Command Memorandum Report on “Use of PPF 44-1 Fuel in Fighter Aircraft”, dated 13 May 1944, summarized the advantages and disadvantages of using PPF 44-1 fuel in fighter aircraft based on tests conducted to date:


1. Based on tests conducted to date, it is concluded that use of PPF 44-1 in fighter aircraft permits higher power operation which increases airplane performance.
2. Disadvantages resulting from the use of PPF 44-1 fuel in fighter aircraft may be summarized as follows:

a. Decreased spark plug life.
b. Increased rate of replacement of synthetic rubber parts in contact with the fuel.
c. Probable increase of spark plug fouling trouble under low power cruise conditions.
d. General increased engine flight line maintenance on all three engines probably resulting from the higher power operation.
e. Generally increased engine deposits and ring sticking tendencies particularly on V-1710-89 and -91 engines.
f. Higher relative toxicity of the fuel necessitates more careful handling.

"Flight Tests of the North American P-51B-15 Airplane, AAF No. 43-2477 Using 44-1 Fuel" as reported by the Flight Test Engineering Branch dated 20 May 1944 states:


      A. Operation of the airplane at 75 in. Hg. manifold pressure in low blower increased speed in level flight 16 MPH over the high speed at 67 in. Hg. manifold pressure at altitudes from sea level to 7400 ft. A 14 MPH increase was obtained at altitudes from 16,000 ft. to 20,800 ft. in high blower.

      B. The rate of climb was increased 560 ft/min. from sea level to 2,200 ft. by 75 in. Hg. manifold pressure operation. At 15,700 ft. in high blower the rate of climb was increased 580 ft/min.

      C. From sea level to 10,000 ft. in low blower the 1650-7 engine gave increases in speed from 2 to 11 MPH over the 1650-3 engine. From 16,600 ft. to 24,000 ft. in low blower the 1650-3 engine was approximately 20 MPH faster than the 1650-7 engine. In high blower from 18,000 to 24,200 ft. the 1650-7 gave an increase in speed of approximately 10 MPH but at 29,200 ft. the 1650-3 engine was 6 mph faster. This increase of the 1650-3 engine over the 1650-7 engine should continue at altitudes above 29,200 ft. as is shown in Fig. 8 by the dash line. Due to malfunctioning of the carburetor, however, speeds of the 1650-3 fell off above this altitude and were as much as 12 miles slower than those obtained with the 1650-7 engine.


      A. It is recommended that the war emergency rating of the V-1650-7 engine as installed on the P-51B airplane and using 44-1 fuel be increased to 75 in. Hg. manifild pressure and 3000 RPM. 15

Speed vs Altitude P-51B-15 43-24777   Rate of Climb vs Altitude P-51B-15 43-24777

"Flight Tests on the P-38J Airplane, AAF No. 43-28392 Using 44-1 Fuel" as reported by the Flight Test Engineering Branch dated 5 July 1944 states:


      A. In level flight operation a gain of 17 MPH can be obtained by increasing the allowable power from 60 to 70" Hg. (W.E.R.).

      B. In climb operation a gain of 500 ft/min can be obtained by increasing the allowable power from 60 to 70" Hg.

      C. Cooling the airplane can be easily maintained at 70" Hg. However, maximum performance can only be maintained by strict maintenance on the duct system to prevent possible leakage.

      D. The maintenance difficulties experienced throughout the tests were considerable. These consisted mainly of induction, exhaust system, and spark plug failure. However, these difficulties could not be attributed directly to any action of the 44-1 fuel.


      A. It is recommended that the Allison V1710-89 and 91 engines be rated at 70.0" Hg. when using 44-1 fuel or its equivalent. Because of the mechanical and maintenance characteristics of the engine and the P-38J installation this rating should be limited to a very short time. Periods between overhaul should be shortened for the engines using this power. 16

Speed vs Altitude P-38J-15 43-28392   Rate of Climb vs Altitude P-38J-15 43-28392

"Flight Tests on the P-47D Airplane, AAF No. 42-26167 Using 44-1 Fuel" as reported by the Flight Test Engineering Branch dated 15 July 1944 states:


      A. The R-2800-63 can be operated at 65.0" Hg., 2700 RPM, in level flight and climb without water injection when using 44-1 fuel. It can be operated at 70.0" Hg., 2700 RPM with water injection with 44-1 fuel. Climbs at high power must be limited because of high cylinder head temperatures and carburetor air temperatures. Short climbs can be made without dificulty.

      B. A gain of 19 MPH can be realized by using 65.0" Hg., 2700 RPM over 56" Hg., 2700 RPM. 8 MPH can be gained at 65.0" Hg. by using water injection. With water injection at 70.0" Hg., 2700 RPM, 7 MPH can be gained over 65.0" Hg., 2700, water injection.

      C. In climb operation a gain of 510 ft/min. by using 65.0" Hg., 2700 RPM over 56.0" Hg., 2700 RPM can be realized. 410 ft/min can be gained at 65.0" Hg., 2700 RPM using wate injection. No 70.0" Hg. climbs were made.


      1. It is recommended the Pratt & Whitney R-2800-63 engines be rated at 65.0" Hg. with and without water injection when using 44-1 fuel or its equivalent.

      2. It is recommended that the use of 70.0" Hg. be further investigated.

      3. It is recommended that pilots using these higher powers be cautioned concerning the high cylinder head temperatures and carburetor air temperatures which may be encountered in extended climbs or level flights. 17

Speed in Level Flight P-47D 42-26167   Rate of Climb & Ceiling P-47D 42-26167

Proving Ground Command

An Army Air Force Proving Ground Command Report “Service test of Nominal 100/150 Grade Fuel” dated 7 July 1944 determined the effect of nominal 104/150 grade fuel on the performance and maintenance of P-51B, P-47D, and P-38J airplanes.


a. In view of the inconclusive nature of test results, it is not possible to make any definite decision concerning the operational use of nominal grade 104/150 fuel and the attending higher emergency power ratings.
b. Only three of the nine original test aircraft finished the specified test.
c. At this station, only very minor malfunctions and failures were traced specifically to the action of the nominal grade 104/150 fuel.
d. Maximum performance of all three types of aircraft was aided materially by the new power settings permitted with the new fuel.

Performance gains. - Attempts were made throughout the test to determine the average gain in performance due to the increased power rating allowed by the special fuel. Speed runs and climbs were made by approximately twenty-five pilots of all grades of experience. Speed curves shown in Inclosure 3 are average curves drawn from all data obtained from all three airplanes of each type. Data are not reduced to standard conditions, but are plotted against pressure altitude from actual free air temperatures. All flights were made with full military load.

P-51-B-15 Airplane.
Increase of power from the standard war emergency rating of sixty-seven inches Hg. to the test rating of seventy-five inches Hg. resulted in an average true air speed increase of fifteen m.p.h. from sea level to the seventy-five inches Hg. low blower critical altitude (about 8000 feet). Speed increase was also approximately fifteen m.p.h. from fourteen thousand feet to the high blower seventy-five inches for critical of about twenty-one thousand feet. No measurable difference was found between airplanes. The aneroid controlling supercharger shifting point was reset at the begining of the test to shift from low to high blower at sixty-two inches Hg. in a war emergency climb. This change resulted in a blower shift altitude of approximately seventy-five hundred feet, so that it was necessary to select low blower manually for cruise at medium altitudes where the desired power was available in low blower. Climbs were made to thirty thousand feet at the standard, and at the test war emergency ratings. Climbs at seventy-five inches Hg. required about one minute less than was required when climbing at sixty seven inches Hg. All engine temperatures were normal during climb at the increased power.

P-51B-15 Airspeed Comparison   P-51B-15 Time to Climb

P-47D-22 Airplane.
Speed increase from military power of fifty-two inches Hg. to the test war emergency rating of sixty-five inches without water averaged approximately twenty-five m.p.h. true air speed from sea level to about twenty thousand feet. Over the same altitude range, water injection at sixty-five inches Hg. gave a further speed increase of about ten to fifteen m.p.h., so that the total speed gain from military power to sixty-five inches Hg. with water was about forty m.p.h. A considerable amount of scatter was present in the obtained speed data, possibly due to varying induction losses. Engine temperatures and operating characteristics were normal in level flight runs at sixty-five inches Hg., both with and without water.

Only a few climbs were made at the sixty-five inches Hg. rating, with and without water injection. Both with and without water, cylinder head temperatures rose to the maximum allowable at the end of the high power period at eighteen to twenty thousand feet. Over-heating tendencies in climb were greater with the use of water, average comparable cylinder head temperatures being approximately 10° C. higher. This is believed to be due to the higher heat rejection necessary at the increased water injection horsepower. Climbs to thirty thousand feet at Military power (52 inches Hg.) required approximately one and one-half minutes longer than if sixty-five inches Hg. without water were used. Climb to the same altitude at sixty-five inches with water decreased the time about one and a half minutes. Due to improper throttle-turbo schedule, all flights were made with throttle and turbo levers used separately.

P-47D-22 Airspeed Comparison   P-47D-22 Time to Climb

P-38J-15 Airplane.
Some difficulty was experienced in obtaining comparable speed data at the standard sixty inches Hg. and the test seventy inches Hg. war emergency rating. Speeds at both powers varied greatly due to carburetor, spark plug and induction system malfunction. Curves drawn through point concentrations indicated an average speed increase of twenty to twenty-five m.p.h. between sixty and seventy inches Hg. at three thousand R.P.M.

No climbs were made at seventy inches Hg.

P-38J Airspeed Comparison

Manufacturer's Tests

Lockheed Estimate

By 29 May 1944 the Test Program of Grade 100/150 Fuel carried out under the juristiction of the Materiel Command at Wright and Eglin Fields had been completed and the fuel released for service in the European Theater of Operations. 18   By 20 June 1944 "Final release on Project P.P.F. has been made approving 70" manifold pressure for the P-38, 65" manifold pressure (with and without water injection) for the P-47, and 75" manifold pressure for the P-51 (both the 1650-3 and 1650-7 engines)." 19   The P-47 was released for 70" Hg. MAP using Grade 100/150 fuel with water injection by 24 June 1944. 20

Into Service with the USAAF Eighth Air Force

In late Winter of 1943-44 the Allied Expeditionary Air Force (A.E.A.F.) decided, pending further trials, not to employ 150 Grade Fuel for Overlord due to spark plug issues, however, it was intended that 150 Grade would be used when proved satisfactory. 21   Meanwhile, cross channel operations by two squadrons of P-47’s and one P-38 using 150 Grade fuel revealed an increase of speed and climb characteristics at the expense of spark plug difficulties. 22   The Production Division was directed on 28 March 1944, under the authority of the Commmanding General, Army Air Forces, to modify all P-38, P-47 and P-51 airplanes in the United Kingdom for the use of Grade 150 fuel, with the necessary modification kits to be shipped to the European Theater of Operations within 30 days. 23   It was decided that Grade 150 fuel was to be the only fuel available for AAF fighter airplanes in the United Kingdom. 24  

Successful service tests led in May 1944 to the Eighth Air Force Fighter Command requesting that it "be supplied immediately with grade 150 aviation fuel for use in P-47, P-51 and P-38 planes". 25   Deliveries of Grade 100/150 aviation fuel to AAF Stations commenced within a week of the landings in France. 26   27   The change over to 150 grade fuel necessitated the resetting of all aneroid switches on the P-51s. 28  

By early July 1944 the 8th AF fighter aircraft were operating at the following power settings: 29   30

150 grade fuel continued to be used by 8th AF units through 1944. 31    The WER engine limitation for the P-51 continued to be 72" Hg. 32    Eighth Air Force Fighter Groups converted to a new blend of 150 grade fuel, with increased amounts of ethylene dibromide (1½ T) in early 1945. 33    P.E.P, as the new fuel was called, was tried in order to remedy lead fouling of spark plugs.    While spark plug fouling was eliminated, PEP was found to have an undesirable effect on valve seats. As a result of excessive maintenance required on the V-1650 engines, General Doolittle of the Eighth Air Force decided in late March 1945 to revert to the normal 100/150 (1 T) grade fuel. 34

Technical Operations, Eighth Air Force issued a 4 April 1945 memorandum in which 100/150 grade fuel experience in the Eighth Air Force was summarized. It is reproduced in full below:

            1.   The following is a summary of 100/150 grade fuel experience in Eighth Air Force.

            2.   a.   This fuel was first service tested by Technical Operations Section, this headquarters, in October 1943, said service test lasting through until March 1944, at which time it was recommended that if extra performance from P-38, P-47 and P-51 aircraft was desired it could be secured by the use of this fuel. It was pointed out at that time that the only apparent deleterious effect of this fuel on any one of the three types was the extra lead fouling of spark plugs.

                  b.   A decision was made in May 1944 to have all fighter units supplied with this fuel no later than 1 June. As of that date operations with this fuel continued until approximately 1 February 1945 when all fighter units switched to “Pep” (100/150 plus 1.5 T’s ethylene dibromide). As of 1 April 1945 all units switched back to 100/150 fuel containing 1.0 T ethylene dibromide.

            3.   At the time the 150 grade fuel was first used all three fighter types listed above were in operational use by this Air Force. Shortly after June 1 P-38 units were re-equipped with P-51 type aircraft so that experience with 150 grade fuel in P-38 aircraft is limited. Gradually, conversion of P-47 outfits to P-51’s took place during the Summer and Fall of 1944, and as of approximately 1 November only one P-47 group remained in this Air Force.

            4.   Maintenance difficulties can be summarized as follows:

                  a.   P-38 (V-1710 Engine).

                       Spark plug leading was increased. The extent of this leading was such that plug change was required after approximately 15 hours flying. This conditions was aggravated considerably by low cruising powers used to and from target areas, while trying to get the maximum range possible. It was found, however, that regular periods of high power running for a minute of two in most cases smoothed out any rough running engines unless the cause was other than leading.

                 b.    P-47 (R-2800 Engine).

                       Spark plug fouling was the only maintenance difficulty encountered during the period in which 150 grade fuel was used. Spark plug life was reduced by about 50%, the same low power cruising as described above being the principle cause for the extra fouling. No deleterious effects on diaphragms, fuel hose or any other rubber of synthetic rubber materials were noted.

                  c.    P-51 (V-1650 Engines).

                       The same type of lead fouling as described in a and b above happened in the case of the P-51 except that is was probably more serious than in either of the other two types. Using 130 grade fuel with 4½ cc. of lead, the average operational P-51 could last 5 missions (roughly 25 hours) before the fouling required plug change. With 150 grade fuel containing 6 cc. of lead, 10 to 12 hours, or normally 2 missions, was the average length of time between spark plug changes or cleaning. At various times in the six months of operation of P-51 aircraft on 150 grade fuel many other maintenance difficulties were attributed to the fuel, but final analysis proved that the only real effect of the fuel was the lead fouling. Some units maintained that they had some deteriorations of seals, but this was not borne our throughout the command, nor was there any concrete evidence that it existed in the units.

                       The excessive fouling of spark plugs usually exhibited itself in roughing up of engines after a couple of hours of low power cruising. Periodic bursts of high power in most cases smoothed the engine out. However, if the engine was allowed to go too long a period without being cleaned out, the accumulation of lead bromide globules successfully withstood any attempts to blow them out. In some instances, long periods of idling while waiting for take-off and a failure to use high power on take off resulted in loss of power during take-off run and in some cases caused complete cutting out with subsequent belly landing. The cases of cutting-out on take-off definitely attributed to excessive fouling were comparatively few, although numerous enough to list it as an effect of the extra lead.

                       As a result of several months operational use with the fuel, an SOP – designed to reduce power failures on take-off, leading troubles in flight, and other things which were causing early returns and abortive aircraft – was published. This is inclosure no. 1. Almost immediately after this section published this SOP practically all of the troubles then existing ceased, although it was necessary to change plugs after each two missions or thereabouts.

                      In an effort to reduce the lead fouling, tests were conducted by this section with 150 grade fuel containing 1.5 T’s of ethylene dibromide. A total of about 120 hours was run by this section and the three squadrons given the “Pep” fuel for accelerated service tests. The results of these service tests showed a considerable reduction in lead fouling with no apparent effects otherwise. As a results, all fighter units of the Air Force were put on Pep fuel late in January 1945. About thirty days thereafter a sharp increase in valve trouble was experienced with the V-1650 engine. Inspection of engines at overhaul revealed that the hydrobromic acid was eroding the silchrome valve seat inserts to such an extent that after approximately 100 hours of operation all the valve clearance was gone. This 100-hours is the minimum life some engines going 170 to 180 hours before this condition prevailed. There are no other deleterious effects of this fuel noted. As of 1 April 1945 fighter units of the Air Force returned to the use of 100/150 grade fuel containing 1.0 T of ethylene dibromide. 35

Into Service with the Royal Air Force

Following successful testing, the Spitfire IX's Merlin 66 was cleared in March 1944 to use +25 lbs, obtainable with 150 grade fuel. 36 In early May, No. 1 and No. 165 Squadrons comprising the Predannack Wing, were the first to convert their Spitfires to +25 lbs boost and employ 150 grade fuel on operations. 37   38   Air Defense Great Britain (A.D.G.B.) shared a report, dated 16th June 1944 with A.E.A.F. summarizing the RAF's experience with using 150 Grade Fuel in Merlin 66 engines. All pilots reported most favorably on the value of the high boost pressures obtainable with 150 Grade Fuel, however, Technical Staff felt that before the fuel was introduced on a large scale that the causes of backfires must be established and that at least 12 engines should complete 200 hours each. 39   By the end of July the backfires were overcome through fairly straightforward adjustments. 40   By 12 August 1944, 16 Squadrons in A.D.G.B. had been modified to to operate with 150 grade fuel. 41  

The increased performance obtained with 150 Grade Fuel was put to good use by Mustangs, Tempests, Spitfires and Mosquitoes in intercepting V-1 Buzz Bombs launched against Britain beginning mid June. Performance increases at sea level were as follows: 42   43

 130 Grade150 Grade
Spitfire IX335 mph358 mph   +25 lb
Spitfire XIV359 mph366 mph   +21 lb
Tempest V372 mph386 mph   +11 lb
Mustang III (V-1650-3)360 mph390 mph   +25 lb
Mosquito NF. Mk. XIX363 mph   +25 lb

The Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE) reported in Technical Note No.Aero.1501(Flight) that a Mustang III (Merlin V-1650-7), flying at +25 lb./sq.in. as received from Squadron, obtained 382 mph at sea level. 44   404 mph was obtained at sea level after "cleaning up" the aircraft by removing the bomb racks and aerial bracket, repainting the wing's leading edge and rubbing down the aircraft. 316 Squadron was one of the Mustang units to convert to 150 grade fuel, their Operations Record Book stating for 1.7.44 "18 A/C test after modification to +25 lbs boost". 45   610 Squadron uprated thier Spitfire XIVs on 14 July, the Operations Record Book stating "A technical party visited the unit to modify the aircraft to fly at 21 lbs boost on 150 octane petrol". 46   These squadrons did more that just chase "divers" as 315 Squadron demonstrated with their Mustangs when they shot down 6 Me 109's, 1 Me 110 and 1 Fw 190 while escorting Beaufighters to Norway on 30 July 1944. 47   85 and 157 Squadrons were two of the Mosquito units operating at +25 lbs boost with 150 grade fuel. 48   49   By mid August the V-1 diver threat was largly eliminated with the advance of the allied armies beyond the launching areas. The ADGB squadrons that had converted to 150 grade fuel now found more time to operate over the continent. The Spitfire IX Squadrons were permanently pulled off anti-diver duty on 10 August and went over completely to escort work, sweeps and armed recces. They paid their first visit to Germany on 27 August 1944. 50   51   316 Squadron flying their Mustangs downed 3 Me 109’s and a Fw 190 five miles N. of Chalom on 14 August. 52   315 Squadron met with remarkable success on 18 August, claiming 16 Fw 190’s shot down near Beauvais with their boosted Mustang III’s (II./JG 26 admitted to 8 killed and 2 wounded). 53   By this time Headquarters, Air Defense of Great Britain required all Packard Merlin V-1650-7 engines in the Mustangs to be modified to operate at 25 lbs. boost. 54  55  56  57  The Spitfire XIV squadrons quickly got into the swing of it with 350 Squadron scoring on 19 August by shooting down a Ju 88 on the outskirts of Brussels. 58   By early September the Spitfire XIV units were engaged in operations over Germany. 59  60  61  62  63  

On 18 September 1944 A.D.G.B. very positively summarized the experience gained to date using 100/150 grade fuel. However, due primarily to logistical difficulties, such as the interchange of squadrons between A.D.G.B. and 2nd T.A.F., it was decided that UK based fighter squadrons should revert to the use of 130 grade fuel. 64   Its uncertain as to the degree to which this decision was carried out as of November 1944 Fighter Command was still using 2,000 tons of 150 grade fuel per month. 65   With the adoption of 150 grade fuel by the Second Tactical Air Force, any logistical difficulties to Air Defense of Great Britain (A.D.G.B.) use of 150 grade fuel were removed. By early 1945, United Kingdom based Mustangs of A.D.G.B. were operating at +25 lbs/sq.in/80" hg. with 150 grade fuel on operations over the continent and Germany. 66   67   68   69   Eventually all Rolls-Royce Merlin and Griffon engines were cleared to operate on 150 grade fuel, as well as Centaurus, Hercules, Sabre II and Pratt & Whitney Double Wasp engines. 70  

The Second Tactical Air Force

Plans were being made in August to supply the 2nd TAF with 150 Grade Fuel. 71   During November 1944 S.H.A.E.F cleared 100/150 grade fuel for use by the Second Tactical Air Force: 72

J.H Houghton Colonel A.C. Director of Supply described the supply position as of 23 November 1944: 73

It was decided that the Second Tactical Air force would change over from 100/130 grade fuel to 100/150 grade fuel from the 15th December 1944. 74

No. 42 Maintenance Group:

The shipping of fuel from Antwerp started on 2 January, 1945: 75

100/150 grade fuel was introduced into Spitfires of 83 and 84 Groups during January 1945: 76

On the 5 February 1945, J.H Houghton Brigadier General, U.S.A. Director of Supply, reported that the R.A.F on the Continent were using 100/150 grade fuel: 77

Deliveries continued at an increasing rate: 78

Units modified their aircraft for increased power with the change over to 150 grade fuel. 79   80   81   82   83   84   85   86   87   88   89   90   10   92     In May 1945, just days before the ultimate defeat of the Nazis, one Canadian Wing of Spitfires reverted to 130 grade fuel just in time to perform "stylish" formation shows over vanquished Germany. 93

Source References

  1.  Spitfire J.L.165 with Merlin 66 at 25 Lbs. Boost Pressure, Dor/Chr/RLS.1/MNH. 8.10.43
  2.  Spitfire IX JL.165 (Merlin 66) Trials at +25 lb/sq.inch boost with Rotol 4 blade propeller. A.& A.E.E. ref: CTO/AS.56/80. 1 February, 1944.
  3.  Estimated P-51B Mustang Performance with Improved Fuel (160 grade), 25 October 1943
  4.  Memorandum on Introduction into Service Use of 150 Grade Aviation Fuel of 25 January, 1944 (AIR 51/373)
  5.  Message from General Dwight D. Eisenhower, 11th February, 1944 (AIR 37/1020)
  6.  Message from General Henry H. Arnold, 13th February, 1944 (AIR 37/1020)
  7.  CTI-1509, Addendum No. 2, Program for Fuel Research, Development and Test., 21 February 1944
  8.  Flight Tests of Fighter Aircraft with 44-1 Fuel. 16 March, 1944
  9.  75" Hg. clearance for V-1650-7. 19 April, 1944
10.  Preliminary 7-1/2 Hour War Emergency Rating Test of the Allison V-1710-91 Engine Operated on Grade 104/150 Fuel
11.  Attempted 7-1/2 Hr. War Emergency Rating of Allison V-1710-89 as Installed in P-38J Airplane Operated on Grade 104/150 Fuel
12.  Preliminary Report of 7-1/2 Hour War Emergency Test of Pratt & Whitney R-2800-63 Engine using Power Plant Fuel 44-1
13.  Performance Tests on P-38J, P-47D and P-51B Airplanes Tested with 44-1 Fuel. (GRADE 100/150), ENG-57-531-306. 15 May, 1944
14.  Preliminary Flight Tests of Fighter Aircraft Using PPF 44-1 Fuel at Increased War Emergency Rating
15.  Flight Tests of the North American P-51B-15 Airplane, AAF No. 43-2477 Using 44-1 Fuel. 20 May 1944
16.  Flight Tests on the P-38J Airplane, AAF No. 43-28392 Using 44-1 Fuel 5 July 1944
17.  Flight Tests on the P-47D Airplane AAF No. 42-26167 Using 44-1 Fuel. 15 July 1944
18.  Commendation of Materiel Command Personnel in Connection with the Test Program of Grade 100/150 Fuel, 29 May 1944
19.  Project P.P.F. - Installation and Operating Instructions, 20 June 1944
20.  P-47D Airplane Performance Tests at 70 In. Hg. MAP, 24 June 1944
21.  Message from General Bradley (POWE 33/1360)
22.  Notes on 150 Grade Fuel, March/April 1944. (AIR51/373)
23.  Modification of Fighter Aircraft for use of Grade 150 Fuel, Technical Instructions 28 March 1944
24.  Project P.P.F., 4 April 1944
25.  Memo from Bernerd F. Johnson. Colonel, Air Corps, Chief, Petroleum Section, 26 May, 1944.
26.  Grade 150 Aviation Fuel, Bernerd F. Johnson. Colonel, Air Corps, Chief, Petroleum Section, 13 June, 1944.
27.  361st FG - 150 Octane Fuel delivered week ending 18 June 1944.
28.  359th FG - Engineering Report for June 1944
29.  Grade 150 Aviation Fuel, 11 July, 1944:
30.  Teletype Message from USSTAF to Wright Field, July 9, 1944
31.  78th FG Supply Report for December 1944
32.  78th FG Engineering Report for December 1944
33.  339th FG Aviation Fuel Report for February 1945
34.  Grade 100/150 (1 ½ T) Fuel Air Technical Service Command in Europe, 28 March 1945
35.  Use of 100/150 Grade Fuel by Eighth Air Force Eighth Air Force,Technical Operations, Memorandum 4 April 1945
36.  Approval of 25 lbs Combat Boost on Merlin 66. 10 March, 1944. (AVIA 8/434)
37.  No. 1 Squadron Operations Record Book
38.  No. 165 Squadron Operations Record Book
39.  Interim Report – Service Trials of Merlin 66 Engines operating at + 25lbs. Boost Pressure. 16 June, 1944. (AIR 51/373)
40.  Backfire trouble resulting from use of 150 grade fuel. 27 July, 1944. (AIR 8/1226)
41.  Squadrons Modified for the use of 150 Grade Fuel 12, August, 1944. (AIR 8/1226)
42.  Spitfire Low Altitude Performance, +25 lbs.
43.  Mustang, Tempest Low Altitude Performance, +25 lbs boost
44.  Technical Note No.Aero.1501(Flight)
45.  No. 316 Squadron Operations Record Book
46.  No. 610 Squadron Operations Record Book
47.  No. 315 Squadron Operations Record Book
48.  No. 85 Squadron Operations Record Book
49.  No. 157 Squadron Operations Record Book
50.  No. 1 Squadron Oprep 27.8.44
51.  No. 165 Squadron Oprep 16.9.44
52.  316 Squadron Operations Record Book
53.  315 Squadron Operations Record Book
54.  Requisition MER/388/43., 24th August 1944
55.  No. 350 Squadron Operations Record Book, August 1944
56.  Packard V-1650 Engine Performance Data, 1 September 1944
57.  Packard/Merlin V.1650-7 - Mustang III +25 lbs. sq./in. Boost Operation Using 150 Grade Fuel, 4th September, 1944
58.  Re-rating of Engines from 18lbs to 25lbs. Boost Pressure, 6th September, 1944
59.  610 Squadron Operations Book
60.  350 Operations Record Book, September 1944
61.  130 Squadron Operations Report, 12 September 1944
62.  402 Form 541, 12 September 1944
63.  41 Squadron Operations Report, 17 September 1944
64.  Use of 150 Grade Fuel, HQ ADGB, ADGB/S.37041/CTO. 18th September 1944. (AIR 51/373)
65.  Grade 100/150 Fuel, J.H Houghton Colonel A.C., Director of Supply, 23 November 1944.
66.  Combat Report: F/Lt. G. M. Davis, 23 March 1945, 129 Squadron
67.  Combat Report: F/Lt Pearson, 5 April 45, 65 Squadron
68.  118 Squadron Operations Record Book, 8 March 1945
69.  309 Squadron Operations Record Book, 27 February 1945
70.  Engines Cleared for Use of Grade 150 Fuel
71.  Memo from Air Commodore F.N.Trinder, 5th August 1944. (AIR 51/373)
72.  Use of Grade 150 Fuel by the Second Tactical Air Force, 20 November, 1944. (AVIA 15/2922)
73.  Grade 100/150 Fuel, J.H Houghton Colonel A.C., Director of Supply, 23 November 1944.
74.  No. 42 Maintenance Group ORB, November 1944. (AIR 25/616)
75.  No. 424 Aviation Fuel and Ammunition Park, 2nd T.A.F. ORB, January, 1945. (AIR 29/822)
76.  Modification of Merlin Engines in Night Fighter Mosquito Aircraft to Give Improved Performance, 11th January 1945. (Avia 15/2922)
77.  Request for Grade 100/150 1.5 T Aviation Fuel for Eighth Air Force Units on the Continent J.H Houghton, Director of Supply, 5 February 1945.
78.  No. 424 Aviation Fuel and Ammunition Park, 2nd T.A.F.(Air 29/822)
79.  401 Squadron Operations Record Book
80.  411 Squadron Operations Record Book
81.  No. 126 Wing Operations Record Book
82.  421 Squadron Operations Record Book
83.  421 Squadron Operations Record Book
84.  421 Squadron Diary
85.  439 Squadron Operations Record Book
86.  438 Squadron Operations Record Book
87.  440 Squadron Operations Record Book
88.  401 Squadron Operations Record Book
89.  402 Squadron Operations Record Book
90.  442 Squadron Operations Record Book
91.  F/L Georges Nadon, 403 Squadron
92.  F/L W. M. Dove Logbook, 403 Squadron
93.  No. 126 Wing Operations Record Book

Supplemental Documentation

100/150 Grade Fuel Specification
British 100/150 Grade Fuel Production
Consumption of 150 Grade Fuel (Barrels)
150 Grade Fuel Consumption by Theater (Tons)
CRD Forward Development Programme (AIR 20/1760)
352nd FG Mustang being fueled with 150-OCT GASOLINE
Crossbow Fighters Spitfire, Mustang & Tempest, (Avia 11/15) See also Crossbow Meeting
Use of Grade 150 Fuel by the Second Tactical Air Force, 27/11/44
Use of 150 Grade Fuel by 2nd T.A.F., 26th January, 1945
Operational Notes on Merlin 63, 63A, 66, 70 and 266 Engines in Spitfire Aircraft using 150 Grade Fuel., March 1945
Merlin 66 Engine Data Card, 14-3-44
Merlin 70, 76 and 77 Engines, 31.1.45
Merlin 72 or 73 Operational Warning Card, 24.5.44
Use of Increased Combat Boost on Merlin 72 Engines, June, 1944
Ignition Timing for High Boost Running V-1650-7 & Mer. 266 Engines, 18th September, 1944
Merlin Mks. 130 and 131 - Service Approval, 25 January, 1945
Griffon 65 Auto. Boost Control-Introduction of Aneroid, Gov. Spring and Camshaft for 21 lb./sq.in. Combat Boost (Mod No. Griffon/293)
Rolls-Royce Griffon (65), Flight, September 20th, 1945
Rolls-Royce Griffon 64 and 69, 28th March, 1945
Rolls Royce Griffon 64 and 69
Griffon 64 Operating Limitations
Griffon 69 Operating Limitations


By Neil Stirling and Mike Williams,   All Rights Reserved