Another gas story
From: Douglas Anderson (
Date: Tue, 8 Jun 2021 00:00:57 -0700 (PDT)

Subject: Remarkable story about how an American created 100 octane gasoline just in time to save our Air Force and the British as well

One year a friend of mine chaired the Camarillo [CA] Fly In.  I volunteered to help – what can I do Burt?  See Derick and his P-51.  Hello Derick – Burt said to help you.  OK – open the wing gun boxes, get the wax and rags, and start polishing.  THAT was the coolest fence I ever whitewashed.  People walking by thought that was my plane.  Ah ah.  But on the wing, at the fuel door, that I noticed the stencil “USE ONLY 130 PURPLE ONLY.”  Hmmmm, fuel octanes have different colors?  I knew 100 octane was red – so I guess there are different colors for different grades.

On to the post - -

World War II - Aviation Gasoline

It seems that the German and British aircraft both used 87 octane
gasoline in the first two years of the war. While that was fairly
satisfactory in the German Daimler-Benz V-12 engine, it was marginal
in the British Rolls-Royce Merlin XX engine used in British aircraft.
It fouled the spark-plugs, caused valves to stick, and made frequent
engine repair problems.

Then came the WWII lend-lease program and American aircraft began to
enter British service in great numbers. If British engines hated 87
octane gasoline, the American General Motors built Allison 1710
engines loathed and despised it.  Something had to be done!

Along came a French-American named Eugene Houdry.  Never heard of him?
 Small wonder, very few people have.  Eugene Houdry, born in France,
resettled in the USA and developed one of the earliest catalysts to
convert useless crude oil into high octane fuel.  As a scientist for
Sun Oil in their Southeast Texas Refinery, he invented the "Cracking
Tower" that produced 100 octane aviation gasoline. This discovery led
to great joy among our English cousins and great distress among the

A Spitfire fueled with 100 octane gasoline instead of 87 octane was 34
miles per hour faster at 10,000 feet. The need to replace engines went
from every 500 hours of operation to every 1,000 hours which reduced
the cost of British aircraft by 300 Pounds Sterling.  Even more, when
used in 4 engine bombers.  Luftwaffe pilots couldn't believe they were
facing the same planes they have successfully defeated over France a
few months earlier.  British Spitfires that couldn't catch them a year
ago started shooting their ME-109 E and G models right out of the sky.
The planes were the same – but the fuel wasn’t.

Of course, the matter had to be kept secret. If the Germans found out
that it was a French Invention, they'd simply copy the original French
patents. If any of you have ever wondered what they were doing in that
3 story white brick building in front of the Sun Oil Refinery on Old
Highway 90 in Beaumont, TX that was it. They were re-inventing

The American Allison engines improved remarkably with 100 Octane
gasoline, but did much better when 130 octane gasoline came along in
1944. The 130 Octane also improved the Radial Engine Bombers we

The Germans and Japanese never snapped to the fact that we had
re-invented gasoline. Neither did our "Friends" the Russians.  100,000
Americans died in the skies over Europe. Lord only knows what that
number would have been without "Super-Gasoline".  And it all was
invented just a few miles west of Beaumont, and we never knew a thing
about it.

“Of all the things I've lost I miss my mind the most"

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