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Beatrice (Tilly) Shilling was an accomplished rider who fettled her own machines and is best remembered in the motorcycle world as one of only three women to achieve the magic ton at Brooklands.
An aeronautical engineer, she also has a place in aviation history as the inventor of a device which saved many lives. Fitted to Spitfires and Hurricanes, the invention prevented the severe flooding to which Merlin engines were prone during negative G manoeuvres, making the smiting of the nimble Messerschmitt problematical during the Battle of Britain. Officially named the R.A.E. restrictor, her solution was celebrated by the RAF lads as Tilly's Orifice.
BBC podcast: The Shilling factor - an absolute gem!
The nickname 'Tilly orifice' was given to the restrictor by Sir Stanley Hooker, the engineer who led supercharger development at Rolls-Royce at the time. Miss Shilling herself oversaw the fitting of the devices to the Merlin engines and travelled on her motorcycle to airfields throughout wartime Britain with her bag of tools. The podcast includes segments with Douglas Bader.