Category Archives: Between the Wars

Fairey Fox II P12 engine run

Fairey P.12 Prince Aircraft Engine

By William Pearce

Charles Richard Fairey founded the Fairey Aviation Company (FAC) in 1915. Fairey was at Cowes, Isle of Wight, United Kingdom in September 1923 to witness a practice session for the Schneider Trophy seaplane race over the Solent. What he saw both impressed and disappointed him.

Curtiss D-12 Fairey Felix

The Curtiss D-12 so impressed Richard Fairey that he went to the United States and acquired a license to produce the engine. Named the Fairey Felix, the engine was actually never produced, but 50 D-12 engines were imported.

Fairey was impressed by the Curtiss CR-3 racers, each with its compact 450 hp (336 kW) Curtiss D-12 engine turning a Curtiss-Reed metal propeller. When the race was run, the two CR-3 aircraft from the United States (US) proved to be 20 mph (32 km/h) faster than the British Supermarine Sea Lion racer. The Sea Lion was powered by a 550 hp (410 kW) Napier Lion W-12 engine that turned a wooden propeller. The two CR-3s finished the race averaging 177.266 mph (285.282 km/h) and 173.347 mph (278.975 km/h), while the Sea Lion averaged 157.065 mph (252.772 km/h). Fairey was disappointed that the British Air Ministry was not pushing its aircraft industry to make the same technological strides that were taking place in the US. Fairey was already frustrated by the constraints the Air Ministry placed on their specifications for new aircraft. With the world-beating performance of the Curtiss CR-3 aircraft fresh in his mind, Fairey resolved that if the Air Ministry would not push technology, he would.

Fairey went first to the Air Ministry seeking support for his new aircraft and was promptly turned down. Fairey then traveled to the US where, at great expense, he obtained manufacturing licenses for the Curtiss D-12 engine and Curtiss-Reed propeller. This agreement included some 50 D-12 engines to be used while FAC tooled up to manufacture their version, which was called the Felix. Fairey was so enthusiastic about the D-12, that he somehow smuggled an engine into his stateroom for his return sea voyage to Britain.

Fairey Fox bomber D-12 Felix

The Fairey Fox I light bomber was powered by the D-12/Felix engine. The aircraft was a private venture, and its performance surpassed other bombers and most fighters then in service. The British Air Ministry did not appreciate Fairey’s non-conformist attitude or the aircraft’s foreign power plant.

The D-12/Felix was a normally aspirated, liquid cooled, 60 degree, V-12 engine. The engine had a 4.5 in (114 mm) bore and a 6.0 in (160 mm) stroke. The D-12/Felix’s total displacement was 1,145 cu in (18.8 L), and it produced 435 hp (324 kW) at 2,300 rpm. The engine had four valves per cylinder that were operated by dual overhead camshafts.

With the engine situation under control, Fairey had his design department drew up plans for a new aircraft to be powered by the D-12/Felix. What came off the drawing board was the Fairey Fox I light bomber. Piloted by Norman Macmillan, the Fox I was flown for the first time on 3 January 1925. The Fox I had a top speed of 156 mph (251 km/h), some 50 mph (80 km/h) faster than comparable bombers then in service and also faster than most frontline fighters. Although it was built as a private venture, the Air Ministry was forced to buy a few Fox I bombers because of the aircraft’s unparalleled performance. The Air Ministry was not pleased with the situation and was downright appalled that the aircraft was powered by a US engine. Moreover, they did not want another aircraft engine manufacturer in Britain.

The Air Ministry tasked Rolls-Royce to develop an engine superior to the D-12. This new engine was developed as the Rolls-Royce Kestrel (type F) and was a stepping stone to the Merlin. The whole situation did nothing to improve the relationship between Fairey and the Air Ministry. However, had Fairey not forced the D-12 upon the Air Ministry, it is entirely possible that there may not have been a Merlin engine ready for the Battle of Britain in 1940.

Fairey P12 induction side

British patent 402,602 outlined how passageways cast into an engine’s crankcase could bring induction air into the cylinders. The patent also states how special oil lines (h) could traverse the passageway. This would help cool the oil and heat the incoming air/fuel mixture (which is not a good idea when higher levels of supercharging are applied to the engine).

The small order of Fox aircraft meant that the Fairey Felix engine never went into production. Only 28 Fox I aircraft were built, and a number were either built with or re-engined with Kestrel engines. FAC also built the D-12-powered Firefly I fighter, which first flew on 9 November 1925 and had a 185 mph (298 km/h) top speed. No orders were placed for the Firefly I.

Failing to enter the aircraft engine business on his first attempt did not stop Fairey from trying again. In 1931, FAC had hired Captain Archibald Graham Forsyth as chief engine designer. Forsyth had previously worked with Napier and Rolls-Royce while he was with the Air Ministry. Forsyth went to work designing a new aircraft engine. During this same period, Rolls-Royce started work on their PV-12 engine, which would become the Merlin.

Forsyth developed a liquid-cooled, 60 degree, V-12 engine known as the P.12. The upper crankcase and cylinder banks of the P.12 were cast together. Each detachable cylinder head housed four valves per cylinder. Reportedly, the P.12 used a dual overhead camshaft valve train similar to that used on the D-12/Felix. Cast into the Vee of the engine was the intake manifold and the runners, which branched off from the manifold. The intake runners aligned with passages cast integral with the cylinder head that led to the cylinders. The integral intake manifolds increased the engine’s rigidity, eliminated many pipe connections, and gave the engine a much cleaner appearance.

Fairey P12 engine section

A drawing from British patent 406,118 illustrates the induction passageways (d, e, and f) cast integral with the engine’s crankcase and head. The drawing also shows the water circulation from the crankcase to up around the cylinders and into the cylinder head. Although the valve arrangement is not specified, it is easy to see how four valves per cylinder with dual overhead camshafts could be accommodated.

The Fairey P.12 had a 5.25 in (133 mm) bore and a 6.0 in (152 mm) stroke. The engine’s total displacement was 1,559 cu in (25.5 L). Two versions of the P.12 were designed that varied in their amount of supercharging. The lightly-supercharged (some sources say unsupercharged) P.12 Prince produced 650–710 hp (485–529 kW) at 2,500 rpm. The moderately-supercharged P.12 Super Prince (or Prince II) produced 720–835 hp (537–623 kW) at 2,500 rpm. The P.12 engine weighed around 875 lb (397 kg).

The P.12 engine was first run in 1933. By 1934, three engines had been built and had run a total of 550 hours. One engine had run non-stop for 10 hours at 520 hp (388 kW) and had made three one-hour runs at 700 hp (522 kW). In late 1934, a P.12 Prince engine was installed in a Belgium-built Fox II (A.F.6022) aircraft (A.F.6022). The Prince-powered aircraft made its first flight on 7 March 1935. Ultimately, P.12 engines were run around 1,000 hours and had a final rating of 750 hp (559 kW) for normal output and 900 hp (671 kW) for maximum output.

Fairey Fox II P12 engine run

The Fairey Fox II was used as a testbed for the P.12 Prince engine. Unfortunately, little information has been found regarding the engine or its testing. Note the two exhaust stacks for each cylinder. The arrangement was similar to that used on the D-12/Felix engine.

In 1933, the Air Ministry issued specification P27/32 for a new light bomber. Marcel Lobelle, chief designer at FAC, drew up a number of designs, including one powered by two P.12 Prince engines. However, the Air Ministry wanted a single-engine aircraft. Lobelle altered the twin-engine design into what was basically a P.12-powered early design of the Fairley Battle. The Air Ministry made it clear to FAC that it would not consider any P.12-powered aircraft, because FAC was not a recognized engine manufacturer, and the Air Ministry did not want any other firms entering the aircraft engine field. Consequently, the FAC design for the P27/33 specification was switched to A Rolls-Royce Merlin I engine in 1934. This design was contracted as the Fairey Battle. The Battle was first flown on 10 March 1936 by Christopher Staniland, but an order for 155 aircraft (under specification P.23/35) had already been placed in May 1935. The Battle was the first production aircraft powered by the Merlin engine. With no support from the Air Ministry, the P.12 Prince faded into history.

Encouraged by the early bench tests of the P.12, Forsyth designed a more powerful 16-cylinder engine in January 1935 that was designated P.16. Initially, the P.16 design was basically a P.12 with four additional cylinders to make a V-16 engine. The P.16 used the same bore and stroke as the P.12 but displaced 2,078 cu in (34.1 L). Some sources state the P.16 was guaranteed to produce 900 hp (671 kW) at 12,000 ft (3,658 m) with a weight of only 1,150 lb (522 kg). The 900 hp (671 kW) output seems low, especially when compared to the anticipated performance of the Super Prince.

Fairey P27-32

FAC’s proposal to specification P27/32 included two twin-engine aircraft powered by P.12 Prince engines. The Air Ministry wanted a single-engine aircraft and would not consider anything powered by FAC engines. The specification and design eventually became the Fairey Battle.

Numerous sources suggest the P.16’s configuration was changed over concerns regarding the engine’s length combined with excessive torsional vibrations and stress of the V-16’s long crankshaft. The new, revised layout of the P.16 was an H-16 engine with two crankshafts, four banks of four cylinders, and an output of 1,540 hp (1,148 kW). This power level seems more reasonable than the 900 hp (671 kW) listed previously, but some sources give the 1,540 hp (1,148 kW) figure as an early power rating of a different engine (the P.24 Monarch). On occasion, the H-16 engine has been referred to as the P.16 Queen, but “Queen” was an early name for the P.24 Monarch. It may be that the H-16 engine never existed and has been mistaken for the P.24 over the years.

A third P.16 layout is described by other sources, which details the engine as a U-16 with two straight-eight engines mounted in parallel and geared to a common propeller shaft. FAC and Forsyth applied for a patent on 31 January 1936 (British patent 469,615) for such an engine configuration, but that date is after FAC moved away from the P.16, and the drawings depict a 12-cylinder engine. Both the H-16 and U-16 configurations would result in a much heavier engine of around 1,500 lb (680 kg).

Rather than proceed with a 16-cylinder engine, a new design had been started by October 1935. In fact, there is little evidence from primary sources that indicates a P.16 engine or an H-16 configuration were ever seriously considered. The new engine would keep the bore and stroke of the P.12 and use an H layout with four banks of six cylinders for a total of 24 cylinders. The H-24 engine design was called the Fairey P.24 Monarch.

Fairey U engine

Some sources state the P.16 engine was really two inline-eight engines coupled together as a U-16. While no drawings of a U-16 have been found, FAC and Forsyth did take out a British patent (no. 469,615) for a similar engine. This U-12 design was probably more of a stepping stone to the P.24 than a development of the P.16. Note the barrel (c) drawn between the cylinder banks.

Fairey Aircraft since 1915 by H. A. Taylor (1988)
British Piston Aero-Engines and their Aircraft by Alec Lumsden (2003)
World Encyclopedia of Aero Engines by Bill Gunston (2006)
Memorandum Report on Fairey P-24 (Monarch) Engine by B. Beaman, F. L. Prescott, E. A. Wolfe, and Opie Chenoweth (22 August 1941)
“Improvements in or relating to the Induction and Lubrication Systems of an Internal Combustion Engine” British patent 402,602 by Fairey Aviation Company and Archibald Graham Forsyth (granted 7 December 1933)
“Improvements in or relating to the Cylinder Block and Crank Case of an Internal Combustion Engine” British patent 406,118 by Fairey Aviation Company and Archibald Graham Forsyth (granted 22 February 1934)
“Improvements in or relating to Power Plants for Aircraft” British patent 469,615 by Fairey Aviation Company and Archibald Graham Forsyth (granted 29 July 1937)
“Fairey Battle Database” by W. A Harrison Aeroplane (June 2016)


Daimler-Benz DB 602 (LOF-6) V-16 Diesel Airship Engine

By William Pearce

Around 1930, Daimler-Benz* developed the F-2 engine, initially intended for aviation use. The F-2 was a 60 degree, supercharged, V-12 engine with individual cylinders and overhead camshafts. The engine had a 6.50 in (165 mm) bore and an 8.27 in (210 mm) stroke. The F-2’s total displacement was 3,288 cu in (53.88 L), and it had a compression ratio of 6.0 to 1. The engine produced 800 hp (597 kW) at 1,500 rpm and 1,000 hp (746 kW) at 1,700 rpm. The engine was available with either direct drive or a .51 gear reduction, and weighed around 1,725 lb (782 kg). It is unlikely that the Daimler-Benz F-2 powered any aircraft, but it was used in a few speed boats.

The Daimler-Benz OF-2 diesel engine was very similar to the spark ignition F-2. Note the dual overhead camshafts in the Elektron housing above the individual cylinders. This was one of the OF-2’s features that was not incorporated into the LOF-6.

The Daimler-Benz OF-2 diesel engine was very similar to the spark ignition F-2. Note the dual overhead camshafts in the Elektron housing above the individual cylinders. This was one of the OF-2’s features that was not incorporated into the LOF-6.

In the early 1930s, Daimler-Benz used the F-2 to develop a diesel engine for airships. This diesel engine was designated OF-2, and it maintained the same basic V-12 configuration as the F-2. The individual cylinders were mounted on an Elektron (magnesium alloy) crankcase. Each cylinder had four valves that were actuated by dual overhead camshafts. The OF-2 had the same bore, stroke, and displacement as the F-2, but the OF-2’s compression ratio was increased to 15 to 1.

Fuel was injected into the cylinders at 1,330 psi (91.7 bar) via two, six-plunger injection pumps built by Bosch. The fuel was injected into a pre-combustion chamber located between the four valves in the cylinder head. This design had been used in automotive diesels built by Mercedes-Benz. Sources disagree on the gear reduction ratio, and it is possible that more than one ratio was offered. Listed ratios include .83, .67, and .58.

The Daimler-Benz OF-2 engine had a normal output of 700 hp (522 kW) at 1,675 rpm, a maximum output of 750 hp (559 kW) at 1,720 rpm, and it was capable of 800 hp (597 kW) at 1,790 rpm for very short periods of time. Fuel consumption at normal power was .392 lb/hp/hr (238 g/kW/hr). The engine was 74.0 in (1.88 m) long, 38.6 in (.98 m) wide, and 42.5 in (1.08 m) tall. The OF-2 weighed 2,061 lb (935 kg).


This view of a display-quality DB 602 engine shows the four Bosch fuel injection pumps at the rear of the engine. The individual valve covers for each cylinder can also be seen.

The OF-2 passed its type test in 1932. At the time, Germany was developing its latest line of airships, the LZ 129 Hindenburg and LZ 130 Graf Zeppelin II. These airships were larger than any previously built, and four OF-2 engines would not be able to provide sufficient power for either airship. As a result, Daimler-Benz began developing a new engine to power the airships in 1933. Daimler-Benz designated the new diesel engine LOF-6, but it was soon given the RLM (Reichsluftfahrtministerium or Germany Air Ministry) designation DB 602.

Designed by Arthur Berger, the Daimler-Benz DB 602 was built upon lessons learned from the OF-2, but it was a completely new engine. The simplest way to build a more powerful engine based on the OF-2 design was by adding two additional cylinders to each cylinder bank, which made the DB 602 a V-16 engine. The two banks of eight cylinders were positioned at 50 degrees. The 50 degree angle was selected over the 45 degree angle typically used for a V-16 engine. This gave the DB 602 an uneven firing order which helped avoid periodic vibrations.

The individual steel cylinders were mounted to the aluminum alloy crankcase. About a third of the cylinder was above the crankcase, and the remaining two-thirds protruded into the crankcase. This arrangement helped eliminate lateral movement of the cylinders and decreased vibrations. The crankcase was made of two pieces and split horizontally through the crankshaft plane. The lower part of the crankcase was finned to increase its rigidity and help cool the engine oil.

Daimler-Benz LOF-6 DB602 V-16 diesel engine

Originally called the LOF-6, the Daimler-Benz DB 602 was a large 16-cylinder diesel engine built to power the largest German airships. Note the three-pointed star emblems on the front valve covers. Propeller gear reduction was achieved through bevel planetary gears.

A single camshaft was located in the Vee of the engine. The camshaft had two sets of intake and exhaust lobes per cylinder. One set was for normal operation, and the other set was for running the engine in reverse. The fore and aft movement of the camshaft to engage and disengage reverse operation was pneumatically controlled. Separate pushrods for the intake and exhaust valves rode on the camshaft and acted on duplex rocker arms that actuated the valves. Each cylinder had two intake and two exhaust valves. Four Bosch fuel injection pumps were located at the rear of the engine and were geared to the camshaft. Each injection pump provided fuel at 1,600 psi (110.3 bar) to four cylinders. Fuel was injected into the center of the pre-combustion chamber, which was situated between the four valves. For slow idle (as low as 300 rpm), fuel was cut from one cylinder bank.

The DB 602 engine was not supercharged and had a .50 propeller gear reduction that used bevel planetary gears. The engine used fork-and-blade connecting rods that rode on roller bearings fitted to the crankshaft. The camshaft also used roller bearings, but the crankshaft was supported by plain bearings. Two water pumps were driven by a cross shaft at the rear of the engine. Each pump provided cooling water to one cylinder bank. The engine’s compression ratio was 16.0 to 1, and it was started with compressed air.

The DB 602 had a 6.89 in (175 mm) bore and a 9.06 in (230 mm) stroke, both larger than those of the OF-2. The engine displaced 5,401 cu in (88.51 L). Its maximum continuous output was 900 hp (671 kW) at 1,480 rpm, and it could produce 1,320 hp (984 kW) at 1,650 rpm for 5 minutes. The DB 602 was 105.9 in (2.69 m) long, 40.0 in (1.02 m) wide, and 53.0 in (1.35 m) tall. The engine weighed 4,409 lb (2,000 kg). Fuel consumption at cruising power was 0.37 lb/hp/hr (225 g/kW/hr).


The ill-fated LZ 129 Hindenburg on a flight in 1936. The airship used four DB 602 engines housed in separate cars in a pusher configuration. Note the Olympic rings painted on the airship to celebrate the summer games that were held in Berlin.

Development of the DB 602 progressed well, and it completed two non-stop 150-hour endurance test runs. The runs proved the engine could operate for long periods at 900 hp (671 kW). Four engines were installed in both the LZ 129 Hindenburg and the LZ 130 Graf Zeppelin II. Each engine powered a two-stage compressor. Each compressor filled a 3,051 cu in (50 L) air tank to 850 psi (59 bar) that was used to start the engine and to manipulate the camshaft for engine reversing.

Plans for a water vapor recovery system that used the engines’ exhaust were never implemented, because the airships used hydrogen instead of the more expensive helium. The recovery system would have condensed vapor into water, and the collected water would have been used as ballast to help maintain the airship’s weight and enable the retention of helium. Without the system in place, expensive helium would have been vented to compensate for the airship steadily getting lighter as diesel fuel was consumed. With the United States unwilling to provide helium because of Germany’s aggression, the airships used inexpensive and volatile hydrogen, as it was readily available. The Hindenburg was launched on 4 March 1936, and the Graf Zeppelin II was launched on 14 September 1938.

Engines for the Hindenburg were mounted in a pusher configuration. In April 1936, the Hindenburg’s DB 602 engines experienced some mechanical issues on its first commercial passenger flight, which was to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The engines were rebuilt following the airship’s return to Germany, and no further issues were encountered. The Hindenburg tragically and famously burst into flames on 6 May 1937 while landing at Lakehurst, New Jersey.


Front view of the DB 602 engine in the Musée de l’Air et de l’Espace, in Le Bourget, France. Above the engine are the cooling water outlet pipes. In the Vee of the engine is the induction manifold, and the pushrod tubes for the front cylinders can be seen. Note the finning on the bottom half of the crankcase. (Stephen Shakland image via

The Graf Zeppelin II was still being built when the Hindenburg disaster occurred. Design changes were made to the Graf Zeppelin II that included mounting the DB 602 engines in a tractor configuration. The inability of Germany to obtain helium, the start of World War II, and the end of the airship era meant the Graf Zeppelin II would not be used for commercial travel. The airship was broken up in April 1940.

The DB 602 engine proved to be an outstanding and reliable power plant. However, its capabilities will forever be overshadowed by the Hindenburg disaster. Two DB 602 engines still exist and are on display; one is in the Zeppelin Museum in Friedrichshafen, Germany, and the other is in the Musée de l’Air et de l’Espace, in Le Bourget, France. Although the DB 602 was not used on a wide scale, it did serve as the basis for the Mercedes-Benz 500 series marine engines that powered a variety of fast attack boats (Schnellboot) during World War II.

*Daimler-Benz was formed in 1926 with the merger of Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft and Benz & Cie. Prior to their merger, both companies produced aircraft engines under the respective names Mercedes and Benz. After the merger, the Daimler-Benz name was used mostly for aircraft engines, and the Mercedes-Benz name was used mostly for automobiles. However, both names were occasionally applied to aircraft engines in the 1930s.


Rear view of the DB 602 engine on display in the Zeppelin Museum in Friedrichshafen, Germany. A water pump on each side of the engine provided cooling water to a bank of cylinders. (Stahlkocher image via Wikimedia Commons)

Aircraft Diesels by Paul H Wilkinson (1940)
Aerosphere 1939 by Glenn D. Angle (1940)
Diesel Engines by B. J. von Bongart (1938)
High Speed Diesel Engines by Arthur W. Judge (1941)
Diesel Aviation Engines by Paul H Wilkinson (1942)
“The Hindenburg’s New Diesels” Flight (26 March 1936)
“The L.Z.129’s Power Units” Flight (2 January 1936)


Tips Aero Motor Rotary Aircraft Engines

By William Pearce

From a very early age, Maurice A. Tips and his younger brother Earnest Oscar were interested in aviation. By 1908, the Belgian siblings had built their first aircraft: a canard-design, pusher biplane. The first engine installed in the aircraft proved underpowered and was replaced with a Gnome rotary. The engine was geared to two shafts, each driving a two-blade pusher propeller. Although the aircraft made some flights, its handling was unsatisfactory, and the design was not developed further. The aircraft did possess unique concepts, a theme continued in Maurice’s subsequent designs.


Rear view of Maurice and Earnest Oscar Tips’ 1908 biplane pusher. The aircraft was unable to fly with its original Pipe V-8 engine, but the lighter Gnome rotary enabled the aircraft to takeoff. Note the central gearbox that provided power to the shafts that turned the propellers via right-angle drives.

After the 1908 aircraft, Maurice refocused his efforts on aircraft engines. By 1912, Maurice had designed a 25 hp (19 kW), seven-cylinder, “valveless,” rotary engine. The engine had a 2.76 in (70 mm) bore, a 4.33 in (110 mm) stroke, and a displacement of 181 cu in (3.0 L). Hollow “suction tubes” took the air/fuel mixture from the engine’s crankcase and delivered it to the cylinders. Each suction tube was geared to the engine’s fixed crankshaft. The suction tubes would spin at half the speed of the crankcase as it rotated. The top of the suction tube had two passageways. Each passageway would align with a common port near the top of the cylinder once every two revolutions of the crankcase. One passageway aligned to allow the air/fuel mixture to flow from the suction tube and into the cylinder. The second passageway aligned to allow the exhaust gases to flow from the cylinder out into the atmosphere.

Two larger versions of the seven-cylinder engine were planned. One had a 4.33 in (110 mm) bore, a 4.72 in (120 mm) stroke, a displacement of 487 cu in (8.0 L), and produced 50 hp (37 kW). The largest engine had a 4.41 in (112 mm) bore, a 5.12 in (130 mm) stroke, a displacement of 547 cu in (9.0 L), and produced 70 hp (52 kW). It does not appear that either of the larger engines were built.


Drawings of the 25 hp (19 kW) Tips engine of 1912. Air was drawn through the rotating suction tubes (5) which enable the intake port (14) and exhaust port (13) to align with the cylinder. The suction tubes were geared (9 and 10) to the stationary crankshaft (4).

Maurice worked to refine his “valveless” rotary engine throughout 1913 and 1914. The most obvious change was that the suction tube was moved to be parallel with the cylinder, rather than at an angle as seen in the 1912 engine. The newer engine design had an updated drive for the suction tubes, and the air/fuel mixture no longer passed through the crankcase; rather, it was delivered through a hollow extension of the crankshaft to a space under the suction tubes.


A 1912 advertisement for the Tips seven-cylinder engines. The ad is titled “The new rotary engines without valves,” and includes the more powerful 50 hp (37 kW) and 70 hp (52 kW) models.

A 25 hp (19 kW) Tips valveless rotary engine was installed in a monoplane built by Henri Gérard in 1914. However, it is not clear if the engine was the 1912 design or later. In addition, the results of the engine’s and aircraft’s performance have not been found. When World War I broke out, Maurice and Earnest Tips fled Belgium. Earnest made his way to Britain, where he worked with Charles Richard Fairey and helped start the Fairey Aviation Company in 1915. Earnest would return to Belgium in 1931 to start the Fairey subsidiary, Avions Fairey. He also produced the Tipsy series of light aircraft.

Maurice Tips traveled to the United States and continued to design aircraft engines. In 1917, The Tips Aero Motor Company was founded in Woonsocket, Rhode Island. That same year, Maurice applied for patents covering his new engine design, which incorporated many concepts from the earlier engines. The new Tips engine was an 18-cylinder, twin-row, rotary engine housed in a stationary frame. The new engine employed both water and air cooling. The cylinders were arranged in pairs, with one in the front row of the engine and the other in the rear row. The crankshaft had only one throw, and the pistons for both cylinders in a pair were at top dead center on their compression strokes at the same time. The engine’s compression ratio was 5.25 to 1. Each cylinder had one spark plug at the center of its combustion chamber. The spark plugs were fired by two magnetos mounted to the front of the engine and driven from the propeller shaft.


The 1913 (left) and 1914 (right) versions of the Tips rotary engine. The major changes were to the suction tube drive and rotary valves. The small tube (no. 14 on the 1913 engine and no. 40 on the 1914 engine) in the stationary crankshaft extension provided oil to the crankshaft and connecting rod.

Most rotary engines had a fixed crankshaft and a crankcase that rotated. This arrangement created much stress on the crankshaft and crankcase and also imposed severe gyroscopic effects on the aircraft. The Tips engine employed several unique characteristics to resolve the drawbacks of traditional rotary engines. The crankshaft of the Tips engine rotated and was geared to the propeller shaft. The propeller shaft was geared to the crankcase, which allowed it to rotate in the opposite direction from the crankshaft and propeller. The end result was that when the crankshaft was turning at 1,800 rpm, the propeller would turn at 1,080 rpm, and the crankcase would rotate at 60 rpm in the opposite direction. Rotary engines in which the crankshaft and crankcase rotate in opposite directions and at different speeds are often called bi-directional or differential rotary engines.

The propeller shaft of the Tips 18-cylinder engine was geared to the crankshaft at a .600 reduction; the crankshaft gear had 18 teeth, and the propeller shaft’s internal gear had 30 teeth. For crankcase rotation, the 17 teeth on the propeller shaft gear engaged 51 teeth on one side of a countershaft to give a .333 gear reduction. The other side of the countershaft had 11 teeth that meshed with a 66-tooth internal gear attached to the crankcase and resulted in a further .167 reduction. Having the propeller and crankshaft rotating in opposite directions not only eliminated the gyroscopic effect inherent to conventional rotary engines, but it also neutralized the gyroscopic effect created by the propeller attached to a fixed engine.


The 18-cylinder Tips engine of 1917 was far more complex than the earlier engines. Note the paired cylinders separated by the rotary valve (24). The propeller shaft (10) was geared to the crankshaft (7) via reduction gears (8 and 9). The crankcase was geared to the propeller shaft via a countershaft (16).

On the exterior of the cylinder castings were numerous cooling fins. In addition, internal passageways for water cooling were in the cylinder castings. Between each pair of cylinders were a series of air passageways to further augment cooling. The engine did not have a water pump; rather, thermosyphoning and the relatively slow rotation of the crankcase enabled the circulation of cooling water from the internal hot areas of the cylinders out toward the cooling fins on the exterior of the cylinders. The engine’s rotation also aided oil lubrication from the pressure-fed crankshaft to the rest of the engine. The oil pump and carburetor were located on the stationary frame at the rear of the engine.

A flange was positioned on the crankshaft, between the connecting rods of the cylinder pair. Mounted on the flange via ball bearings was an eccentric gear with 124 teeth on its outer edge. Attached (but not fixed) to the crankcase was a master valve gear that had 128 teeth on its inner edge. The gears meshing with an eccentric action resulted in the master valve gear turning four teeth per revolution of the crankshaft. On the outer edge of the master valve gear was a bevel gear with 128 teeth. These teeth engaged a 16-tooth pinion attached to a rotary valve positioned between each cylinder pair. The four teeth per revolution of the master valve gear acting on the 16-tooth rotary valve resulted in the rotary valve turning at a quarter engine speed. Each hollow rotary valve had two intake ports and two exhaust ports.

Air was drawn in through a carburetor at the rear of the engine. The air/fuel mixture flowed through a manifold bolted to the cylinder casting and into a passageway that led to a chamber around the lower part of the rotary valve. Holes in the valve allowed the air to flow up through its hollow middle and into the cylinder when the intake ports aligned. As the valve rotated, the exhaust ports would align with the cylinder, allowing the gases to escape out the top of the valve head and into the atmosphere. Passageways in the lower part of the rotary valve head brought in cooling water from the cylinder’s water jacket. Water flowed up through the rotary valve and back into the cylinder’s water jacket. The rotary valve was lubricated by graphite pads and held in place by a spiral spring and retaining cap around its upper surface.


On the left is the rotary valve shown with the intake ports aligned (Fig 3). The air/fuel mixture entered the valve through ports in its lower end (27a). On the right is the valve with the exhaust ports aligned (Fig 5). Fig 4 shows a cross section of the rotary valve with intake ports (28), exhaust ports (29), and passageways for the flow of cooling water (30). Fig 8 shows the valve gear drive. The crankshaft (7) turned an eccentric gear (44) that meshed (42 and 41) with a gear mounted to the crankcase. The result is that a bevel gear (27) engaged a gear screwed to the bottom of the rotary valve (26 on Fig 3) and turned the valve once for every four revolutions of the crankshaft.

The 18-cylinder Tips engine had a 4.5 in (114 mm) bore and a 6.0 in (152 mm) stroke. The engine displaced 1,718 cu in (28.1 L) and produced 480 hp (358 kW) at 1,800 rpm. The Tips engine weighed 850 lb (386 kg). At speed, the engine consumed 22 gallons (83 L) of fuel and 3 gallons (11 L) of oil per hour. The oil consumption was particularly high, even for a rotary engine, but the Tips engine was larger and more powerful than other rotary engines.

In 1919, the engine was mentioned in a few publications. In 1920, Leo G. Benoit, Technical Manager at Tips Aero Motors, passed away. Benoit was said to be in charge of the engine’s design and construction. No further information regarding the engine and no images of the engine have been found. This lack of information could mean that the 480 hp (358 kW) Tips engine was never built. However, given the detailed description of the engine and that it was worked on from 1917 to at least 1920, the possibility certainly exists that the engine was built and tested.

Sometime before World War II, Maurice Tips returned to Belgium. He continued to design engines and applied for a patent on a rotary piston engine in 1938. This engine was not designed for aircraft use and bore no similarities to his early aircraft engines.


Rear view of the 480 hp (358 kW) Tips engine shows the extensive fining (22) that covered the engine. The fining and air passages (23) combined to turn the whole engine into a radiator to cool the water that flowed through the engine via thermosyphoning and centrifugal force.

“Valveless Rotary Combustion Engine” US Patent 1,051,290 by Maurice Tips (granted 21 January 1913)
“Improvements in Rotary Combustion Engines” GB Patent 191307778 by Maurice Tips (application 15 April 1913)
“Improvements in or relating to Rotary Combustion Engines” GB Patent 191506821 by Maurice Tips (application 8 May 1914)
“Rotary Valve” US Patent 1,286,149 by Maurice A. Tips (granted 26 November 1918)
“Internal Combustion Engine” US Patent 1,306,035 by Maurice A. Tips (granted 10 June 1919)
“Valve-Operating Mechanism” US Patent 1,306,036 by Maurice A. Tips (granted 10 June 1919)
“Internal Combustion Engine” US Patent 2,203,449 by Maurice Tips (granted 4 June 1940)
“The Tips 480 H.P. Aero Motor” Aerial Age Weekly (17 March 1919)
Airplane Engine Encyclopedia by Glenn Angle (1921)

Hispano-Suiza 24Y Type 90 side

Hispano-Suiza 24Y (Type 82 and Type 90) Aircraft Engine

By William Pearce

In 1936, the Ministère de l’Air (French Air Ministry) issued a specification for a 2,000 hp (1,491 kW) engine intended to power a flying boat for transatlantic service. The aircraft was to carry at least 40 passengers and 1,100 lb (500 kg) of cargo 3,725 miles (6,000 km) against a 37 mph (60 km/h) headwind. Hispano-Suiza already had its 12Y engine of 1,000 hp (746 kW) in production and was investigating ways to effectively double that engine. Their design efforts led to the 24-cylinder Hispano-Suiza 24Y aircraft engine.

Hispano-Suiza 24Y Type 82 front 2

The Hispano-Suiza 24Y Type 82 24-cylinder H engine on display in the Polish Aviation Museum in Krakow. The Type 82 was intended for use with contra-rotating propellers; however, its original propeller shaft is missing.

The idea behind the 24Y engine was to utilize as many 12Y engine components as possible. The Hispano-Suiza 12Y engine was a liquid-cooled V-12. Each bank of six cylinders was cast en bloc with an integral cylinder head. The 12Y had a 5.91 in (150 mm) bore, a 6.69 in (170 mm) stroke, and a total displacement of 2,200 cu in (36.05 L). The 12Y-50 was one of the last and most powerful versions of the engine; it produced 1,100 hp (820 kW) at 2,500 rpm.

The 24Y engine’s configuration was a vertical H-24: two cylinder banks were mounted vertically above the crankcase, and two cylinder banks were below. A crankshaft served each upper and lower cylinder bank pair. Four aluminum 12Y-50* cylinder blocks were mounted on the 24Y’s crankcase. Each cylinder block included two valves per cylinder, a single overhead camshaft, and the camshaft’s vertical drive shaft. The 7 to 1 compression pistons were connected to the hollow, one-piece crankshaft via fork-and-blade connecting rods, and all components were from the 12Y engine. Each crankshaft had six throws and was supported by seven main bearings. The two-piece, aluminum crankcase was formed by an upper and lower half and was unique to the 24Y.

Hispano-Suiza 24Y Type 90 rear

Rear view of the Hispano-Suiza 24Y (Type 90) showing the engine’s four magnetos, two superchargers, four fuel pumps, and two coolant pumps.

At the rear of the engine, each crankshaft drove a single-speed supercharger at 10 times crankshaft speed. The superchargers gave the engine 2.3 psi (.16 bar) of boost. Separate intake manifolds led from each supercharger to the upper and lower cylinder banks on one side of the engine. Three carburetors were positioned along each intake manifold. Each of the engine’s 12 carburetors supplied the air/fuel mixture to a pair of cylinders.

The two spark plugs per cylinder were fired by four magnetos driven from the rear of the engine. Two magnetos were located above each supercharger. Four fuel pumps were mounted below and between the superchargers. The left and right sides of the engine had separate coolant systems, and a coolant pump was located below each supercharger.

At the front of the engine, each crankshaft had a 28-tooth gear that engaged a 55-tooth propeller gear. This combination created a .509 to 1 gear reduction for the propeller shaft. Between each crankshaft and its power gear was a Sarazin torsional vibration damper. Two versions of the 24Y were built, and they differed in their propeller drive. The 24Y Type 82 was designed to power contra-rotating propellers. In this engine, one crankshaft drove the inner propeller shaft while the other crankshaft drove the outer propeller shaft. The 24Y Type 90 was designed to power a single-rotation propeller and was available with either a normal length or extended gear reduction nose case. Some sources state the Type 90 had accommodations for a cannon to fire through the propeller shaft, but photos indicate this was unlikely.

Hispano-Suiza 24Y Type 90 side

Hispano-Suiza 24Y Type 90 engine with its extended gear reduction case for a single rotation propeller. This engine was displayed at the 1938 Salon de l’Aéronautique in Paris. Note the three carburetors for each cylinder bank.

The Hispano-Suiza 24Y had a 5.91 in (150 mm) bore and a 6.69 in (170 mm) stroke. The engine’s total displacement was 4,400 cu in (72.10 L). The 24Y produced 2,200 hp (1,641 kW) at 2,500 rpm for takeoff. Max power was 2,000 hp (1,491 kW) at 2,400 rpm at 10,827 ft (3,300 m), and cruising power was 1,500 hp (1,119 kW) at 2,250 rpm at 10,827 ft (3,300 m). The engine had a specific fuel consumption of .50 lb/hp/hr (304 g/kW/hr). The Type 82 was 6.46 ft (1.97 m) long, 3.05 ft (.93 m) wide, and 4.27 ft (1.30 m) tall. The engine weighed 2,204 lb (1,000 kg). The Type 90 had the same width and height as the Type 82 but was 3.38 ft (1.03 m) longer with the extended gear reduction case, for a total length of 9.84 ft (3.00 m). The Type 90’s weight was listed as 2,161 lb (980 kg).

Exactly when the 24Y was first run has been lost to history. The engine made its public debut in November 1938 at the Salon de l’Aéronautique (Air Show) in Paris, France. A Type 90 engine was displayed there, and it attracted a lot of attention. Unfortunately for Hispano-Suiza, that attention did not translate into sales. War in Europe was imminent by 1939, and Hispano-Suiza had turned its attention to developing the new 12Z engine. The 12Z was the next evolutionary step beyond the 12Y for Hispano-Suiza’s V-12 engines. War would interrupt the 12Z’s development, but the 12Z would later inspire another 24-cylinder engine known as the 24Z, which was configured like the 24Y. It is doubtful that the 24Y was ever flown.

Hispano-Suiza 24Y Type 82 side

The preserved 24Y Type 82 engine is missing many components. Note the vertical drive shaft for the camshaft at the end of each cylinder bank. (Polish Aviation Museum image)

Only a small number of 24Y engines were built—probably just one Type 82 and one Type 90 with an extended gear reduction case. Having disappeared during World War II, the disposition of the Type 90 is not known. The Type 82 wound up in Poland at the end of World War II. Most likely, it was part of Herman Goering’s aviation collection that was moved to Poland late in the war to keep it from being damaged during Allied bombing raids. The Hispano-Suiza 24Y Type 82 engine is currently preserved (without its original propeller shaft) and on display in the Polish Aviation Museum in Krakow.

*Some sources state that 12Y-51 cylinder blocks were used on the 24Y. The 12Y-50 and 12Y-51 were basically the same engine, the only difference being the crankshaft rotation. When viewed from the rear, the 12Y-50 rotated counter clockwise; the 12Y-51 rotated clockwise. The cylinder blocks of the 12Y-50 and 12Y-51 engines were the same.

Hispano-Suiza 24Y Type 82 rear

The supercharger impellers can be seen in this view of the 24Y Type 82. Although the magnetos are gone, the fuel pumps and one coolant pump remain. (Polish Aviation Museum image)

Aircraft Engines of the World 1941 by Paul H. Wilkinson (1941)
Hispano Suiza in Aeronautics by Manuel Lage (2004)
Jane’s All the World’s Aircraft 1939 by C. G. Grey and Leonard Bridgman (1939)
“Some Trends in Engine Design” Flight (8 December 1938)

Armstrong Siddeley Deerhound III

Armstrong Siddeley ‘Dog’ Aircraft Engines

By William Pearce

The British firm Armstrong Siddeley Motors (ASM) was formed in 1919 when Armstrong Whitworth (founded in 1847) purchased Siddeley-Deasy (founded in 1912). Prior to the merger, both Armstrong and Siddeley were active in the automotive and aeronautical fields. Siddeley first began manufacturing aircraft engines in 1915 under a contract to build the Royal Aircraft Factory’s RAF 1A engine. In 1916, Siddeley had built its first aircraft engine—the Puma—which was developed from the B.H.P. (Beardmore-Halford-Pullinger) six-cylinder engine. The Puma was the first in a long line of engines that were produced by ASM into the 1940s and named after cats (felines)—the last being the Cougar of 1945.

Armstrong Siddeley Hyena AW16

Two versions of the cowling used to cover the 15-cylinder Armstrong Siddeley Hyena installed in an Armstrong Whitworth A.W.XVI (A.W.16). The cowling on the right is illustrative of the Hyena’s inline radial cylinder arrangement.

In 1932, ASM worked to develop a new line of air-cooled, radial engines. These engines would be a design departure from their existing cat-engines, so they decided to name the engines after dogs (canines). Unfortunately, none of these engines were successful, and information about them is frustratingly hard to find and occasionally contradictory. To add to the confusion, some of the engine names were used more than once, and the engines possess many of the same characteristics.

The first engine of the new dog-series was the Mastiff (this name was used again later). This engine was built in 1932 and was a large radial engine with two rows of seven cylinders. The specifications of the 14-cylinder engine are currently not known. In reviewing a photo (that is unfortunately not publishable) of the Mastiff, the engine closely resembles a larger version of the 1,996 cu in (32.7 L) ASM Tiger in appearance and construction. The Mastiff was supercharged and had a one-piece crankcase and gear reduction. A cam ring at the front of the engine acted on pushrods that actuated each cylinder’s two valves. One Mastiff was built for Italy, but it is not known if the engine was ever tested.

Armstrong Siddeley Deerhound I side

This photo gives a good view of the 21-cylinder Armstrong Siddeley Deerhound I’s configuration. Note the engine’s inline radial layout and the vertical shaft in front of each cylinder bank to drive the overhead camshaft.

The second dog-engine was the Hyena. The Hyena’s 15 air-cooled cylinders were arranged in three rows of five. Even more unique than the three-row arrangement was the fact that the cylinder rows were inline rather than staggered. Between each of the engine’s five cylinder banks was a camshaft that acted upon short pushrods to actuate the two valves per cylinder. The camshafts were geared to the crankshaft.

The Hyena had a 5.39 in (137 mm) bore and a 4.92 (125 mm) stroke. The engine’s total displacement was 1,687 cu in (27.64 L), and it produced 620 hp (462 kW) at 2,250 rpm. The Hyena was first run in 1933 and was installed in an Armstrong Whitworth A.W.XVI (A.W.16) biplane fighter later that year. The Hyena-powered A.W.XVI (registered as G-ABKF) first flew on 25 October 1933. The basic engine proved itself to be mechanically sound but rather heavy for its power. Issues were encountered with cooling the rear cylinders. This led to a number of different engine cowlings being tried, but the overheating issues persisted. Eventually, further development of the Hyena was abandoned, and only one or two engines were built. The Hyena was proposed to power the A.W.21 and A.W.28 fighters, but these projects did not proceed past the design stage.

Armstrong Siddeley Deerhound I rear

This rear view of the Deerhound I shows the supercharger housing with intake manifolds leading to each bank of cylinders.

Lessons learned from the Hyena were applied to the next dog-engine: the Deerhound. Led by Lt. Col. F. L. R. Fell, the design of the Deerhound was underway by late 1935, and it retained the inline radial cylinder configuration of the Hyena. However, the Deerhound had two addition cylinders for each row, making three rows of seven cylinders. Each cylinder bank of the Deerhound used a single overhead camshaft to actuate each cylinder’s two valves. The camshafts were driven from the crankshaft by a vertical shaft at the front of the engine. The Deerhound had a single-stage, two-speed supercharger and a propeller reduction gear of .432.

The 21-cylinder Deerhound had a 5.31 in (135 mm) bore and a 5.00 in (127 mm) stroke. The engine displaced 2,330 cu in (38.18 L) and had a forecasted output of 1,500 hp (1,119 kW). The Deerhound was seen as insurance against the potential failure of the Bristol Hercules engine then under development. The designers of the Deerhound would have preferred to create a liquid-cooled engine in the 1,500 hp (1,119 kW) class, but ASM management (John Siddeley) insisted on air-cooling. One of the engine’s designers, W. H. “Pat” Lindsey, stated the engine was “old-fashioned” and did not possess many then-modern refinements.

Armstrong Siddeley Deerhound construction

This photo shows five Deerhound engines in various stages of assembly. Most likely, all of the engines are Deerhound Is, but it is possible one is a Deerhound II. From left to right, the engines appear to be numbered D1, D5, D3, D4, and D2. The engine marked D5 is definitely a Deerhound I.

The Deerhound was first run in 1936, and it was not long before cooling and other problems were encountered. Most likely, five engines were built, and the last achieved 1,370 hp before it failed. In 1937, the ASM board tasked Fell to redesign the engine to cure its ills. The redesign resulted in the Deerhound II, which will be described later. The Deerhound was proposed for the Armstrong Whitworth A.W.42 heavy bomber.

Another engine from 1935 was the Terrier. The Terrier was a two-row radial engine in which each row had seven cylinders. Again, specifics of the engine’s configuration are not available, but most likely the Terrier was effectively a two-row, 14-cylinder Deerhound. Retaining the Deerhound’s 5.31 in (135 mm) bore and a 5.00 in (127 mm) stroke, the engine would have a displacement of 1,553 cu in (24.45 L). The Terrier had a 6.6 to 1 compression ratio.

Armstrong Siddeley Deerhound II side

An Armstrong Siddeley Deerhound II partially assembled. The front of the engine, gear case, and valve covers have all be redesigned from that used on the Deerhound I. Note the overhead camshaft and valve arrangement visible on the upper cylinder bank.

Like the Deerhound, the Terrier had a single-stage, two-speed supercharger. The engine produced a maximum of 550 hp (410 kW) at 2,700 rpm for takeoff, 510 hp (380 kW) at 2,100 rpm at 6,500 ft (1,981 m), and 476 hp (355 kW) at 3,100 rpm at 14,700 ft (4,481 m). Normal outputs were 470 hp (350 kW) at 2,700 rpm at 5,000 ft (1,524 m), and 450 hp (336 kW) at 2,700 rpm at 12,000 ft (3,658 m). The Terrier was proposed for a number of projects including the Armstrong Whitworth F.9/35 turret fighter proposal, the Blackburn M.15/35 torpedo bomber proposal, and the Avro 672 and 675 multi-role aircraft designs. None of those projects were built, and work on the Deerhound prevented the Terrier from being constructed.

Also in 1935, the Whippet was designed. Specifics of the Whippet are not available, but the 250 hp (186 kW) engine may have had two rows of seven cylinders with a bore and stroke of around 4.02 in (102 mm). That cylinder size would give the engine a total displacement of around 712 cu in (11.67 L). The Whippet did not proceed beyond the design phase.

The next engine design was initiated around 1936 and was for the Wolfhound (this name was used again later). The inline radial Wolfhound was an outgrowth of the Deerhound and had four rows of seven cylinders. Specifics of the engine are not available. However, 28 cylinders with the Deerhound’s 5.31 in (135 mm) bore and 5.00 in (127 mm) stroke would displace 3,106 cu in (50.90 L) and produce around 1,800 hp (1,342 kW). The Wolfhound did not make it off the drawing board.

Deerhound II engine Whitley

A Deerhound II engine installed in an Armstrong Whitworth A.W.38 Whitley bomber. Note the relatively small diameter of the engine compared to that of the firewall. The 44 in (1.12 m) diameter Deerhound replaced the 51 in (1.29m) diameter Armstrong Siddeley Tiger that was originally installed in the Whitley II.

In 1937, the Deerhound was redesigned and became the Deerhound II. The engine’s configuration changed little. However, refinements were made, and the cylinder bore was increased from 5.31 in (135 mm) to 5.51 in (140 mm). The stroke was unchanged, but the larger bore increased the engine’s displacement by 175 cu in (2.88 L), bringing the total displacement to 2,505 cu in (41.06 L). The engine’s forecasted output was still 1,500 hp (1,119 kW). The Deerhound II had a 6.75 to 1 compression ratio and was 44 in (1.12 m) in diameter. Extensive baffles were installed around the cylinders to help direct air flow and cool the rear cylinders.

The Deerhound II was first run in 1938, but more issues were encountered, including a broken crankshaft during a type test in October 1938. Fell and his team were under immense pressure from the ASM board to fix the engine’s issues. Two Deerhound II engines were installed in an Armstrong Whitworth A.W.38 Whitley bomber (serial no. K7243) for flight tests, and the aircraft first flew in January 1940. Fell’s contract with ASM was not renewed when it expired on 9 February 1939. Lindsey temporarily took over Deerhound development until Stewart S. Tresilian was brought on staff in mid-1939.

Deerhound engine cowling Whitley

Any aerodynamic advantages achieved by the close-fitting cowling covering the Deerhound engine installed on the Whitley must have been undermined by the bulbous cooling-air intake under and the large induction scoop above the engine. This Whitley was eventually lost, but through no fault of the engines.

Although the date is not recorded, the engine did achieved and output of 1,500 hp (1,119 kW) at 2,975 rpm with 5 psi (.34 bar) of boost. On the Whitley bomber, the engines were housed in special nacelles. Cooling air was taken in under the spinner and directed from the rear of the engine forward through the cylinders. However, engine cooling issues persisted, and the designers believed increasing the cooling fin area of the cylinders would resolve the problem.

Flight testing continued until 6 March 1940 when the Deerhound II-powered Whitley bomber was lost on takeoff, killing all three people on board. The crash was attributed to an improperly set trim tab and had nothing to do with the engines. With the testbed destroyed, ASM decided to curtain development of the Deerhound II and focus on an improved version that would cure the overheating issues. The new engine, the Deerhound III, will be described later. Five Deerhound II engines were built.

Armstrong Siddeley 36-cyl Mastiff

This drawing illustrates a coupled arrangement for two 36-cylinder Armstrong Siddeley Mastiff engines. The engine’s nine banks of four cylinders can be deduced from the drawing. A similar arrangement was purposed with two Deerhound engines.

In 1937, the Boarhound was designed. This engine possessed the larger 5.51 in (140 mm) bore of the Deerhound II and had a longer 6.30 in (160 mm) stroke. The real design change was the engine’s layout—the Boarhound had three inline rows of nine cylinders. With its 27 cylinders, the Boarhound displaced 4,058 cu in (66.50 L). Its initial and rather conservative estimated output was 2,300 hp (1,715 kW) at 2,700 rpm. The Boarhound had a diameter of 51 in (1.30 m). With all resources focused on the Deerhound, the Boarhound was never built.

Around 1938, the Mastiff name was resurrected and given to a further development of the Boarhound. The new Mastiff had four inline rows of nine cylinders. While the cylinder’s bore was still 5.51 in (140 mm), the stroke was lengthened to 6.69 in (170 mm). The 36 cylinders of the Mastiff engine displaced an impressive 5,749 cu in (94.21 L), and output was estimated at 4,000 hp (2,983 kW). Like the Boarhound, the Mastiff was not developed.

In 1940, Tresilian went to work on the Deerhound III to create an engine free from the issues experienced with the original Deerhound and the Deerhound II. The Deerhound III possessed the same bore, stroke, displacement, and 44 in (1.12 m) diameter as the Deerhound II. However, the engine was essentially redesigned, and its output was increased to 1,800 hp (1,342 kW). The engine was first run in late 1940. High-power tests revealed detonation issues with the first row of cylinders, but some sources state the engine did achieve 1,800 hp (1,342 kW) on the dyno. An updated design, the Deerhound IV, was proposed but never built. Only one Deerhound III was built.

Armstrong Siddeley Deerhound III

This picture shows the sole Armstrong Siddeley Deerhound III engine. Again, revisions to the front of the engine, gear reduction, and valve covers can easily be seen. Reportedly, this engine survived into the 1970s.

In mid-1941, the Wolfhound name was reused for a new Tresilian-designed engine. The new Wolfhound had four inline rows of six cylinders. The 24-cylinder engine had a 5.91 in (150 mm) bore and a 5.51 in (140 mm) stroke. Total displacement was 3,623 cu in (59.38 L), and the engine was to produce 2,600–2,800 hp (1,939–2,088 kW) at 2,800 rpm. The engine had a two-stage supercharger and was designed to power contra-rotating propellers.

In October 1940, a bombing raid severely damaged the Armstrong Siddeley Aero Development shop and destroyed several Deerhound engines. Another raid on 8 April 1941 further damaged the shop and set engine development back even more. ASM dog-engine development continued at a slow pace until October 1941, when the British Ministry of Aircraft Production (MAP) cancelled further work. The ASM dog-engines would not be ready in time to be of any use in the war, and the MAP wanted the company to focus on turbine engines (ASM named theirs after snakes). The sole Deerhound III engine was thought to have survived into the 1970s, but there are no known ASM dog-engines currently preserved.

Armstrong Siddeley Deerhound IV

Drawing of the Armstrong Siddeley Deerhound IV engine that was never built. Even if this design from 1941 proved successful, it would not have been developed in time to see much use during World War II.

Armstrong Siddeley — the Parkside Story 1896–1939 by Ray Cook (1988)
Parkside: Armstrong Siddeley to Rolls-Royce 1939–1994 by Roy Lawton (2008)**
Sectioned Drawings of Piston Aero Engines by Lyndon Jones (1995)**
Armstrong Whitworth Aircraft since 1913 by Oliver Tapper (1973)
British Secret Projects: Fighters & Bombers 1935–1950 by Tony Buttler (2004)
British Piston Aero-Engines and Their Aircraft by Alec Lumsden (1994/2003) (and pages therein)

**Rolls-Royce Heritage Trust books that are currently in print and available from the Rolls-Royce Heritage Trust site.

Sunbeam Sikh I

Sunbeam Sikh I, II, and III Aircraft Engines

By William Pearce

Toward the end of World War I, a number of companies were pursuing the concept of a very large engine powering a very large aircraft. Just about every country that had extensive experience in the field of aeronautics expended resources to create the large engine and aircraft combination. As history unfolded, all of these projects came to naught, although the experience gained did pave the way for future projects.

Sunbeam Sikh I

Side view of the 800 hp (597 kW) Sunbeam Sikh I V-12 engine. Carburetors can be seen attached to the first and last cylinders. Note the two water pumps under the engine and the exposed valves.

The Sunbeam Motor Car Company based in Wolverhampton, England had added aircraft engine design and manufacture to its existing automotive business in 1913. Sunbeam’s aircraft engines were designed by Louis Coatalen, their chief engineer, and were sometimes referred to as Sunbeam-Coatalen Aircraft Engines. As with so many other companies, Sunbeam designed a large aircraft engine during the closing days of World War I. This large engine was named Sikh (or Sikh I), and it was intended for use in either large aircraft or airships.

The Sikh was a 60 degree V-12 engine. Its individual cylinders were a departure from the standard Coatalen-designed engines. The cylinders were machined from steel forgings and had welded sheet metal water jackets. Each cylinder had four spark plugs positioned under its six exposed valves. The three intake valves were positioned on the Vee side of the cylinder, and the three exhaust valves were positioned on the outside of the cylinder. The intake and exhaust valves were operated by separate rocker groups positioned above the valves. This configuration allowed all intake (or exhaust) valves to be opened or closed simultaneously. Each rocker group was actuated by a pushrod that was driven by a camshaft mounted in the Vee of the engine and geared to the crankshaft. Four magnetos at the rear of the engine fired the spark plugs.

Sunbeam Sikh I Ad copy

A Sunbeam Sikh ad from 1920 touts the engine as the most powerful in the world but prophetically adds, “at the moment.” The Duesenberg H developed at the same time as the Sikh I had the same output, and the 1,000 hp (746 kW) Napier Cub would eclipse both engines later in 1920.

Two water pumps were positioned under the engine and driven by vertical shafts from an accessory gear. Each pump supplied cooling water to one cylinder bank. The Sikh had four carburetors—one attached to the first and last cylinders of each row. For each cylinder row, the air/fuel mixture flowed through an intake manifold attached to the cylinders inside the Vee of the engine. The engine used aluminum pistons mounted to H section, forked connecting rods attached to the crankshaft. The hollow crankshaft was made of nickel-chromium steel. Via spur reduction gears, the propeller shaft turned at 0.657 engine speed. The crankcase of the Sikh was an aluminum casting.

The Sunbeam Sikh had a 7.09 in (180 mm) bore and 8.27 in (210 mm) stroke. The engine’s total displacement was 3,913 cu in (64.1 L), and it produced 800 hp (597 kW) at 1,400 rpm. The Sikh had a dry weight of 1,952 lb (885 kg).

The engine was first run on 11 May 1919 and was displayed at a number of aviation shows. Although the Sikh passed British Air Ministry tests to prove its airworthiness, Sunbeam did not receive any orders for the engine. Large engines and large aircraft were simply not practical in the early 1920s, and there was little interest in airships in the immediate post-war era.

In addition to the Sikh, Sunbeam co-developed a smaller engine known as the Sikh II (or Semi-Sikh). The inline-six Sikh II was essentially half a Sikh. The cylinders were the same but they were mounted on a new crankcase. The Sikh II was direct drive without any gear reduction, and the camshaft was mounted on the left side of the engine. With the same bore and stroke as the Sikh, the Sikh II had a total displacement of 1,956 cu in (32.1 L) and produced 425 hp (317 kW) at 1,400 rpm. The engine had a dry weight of 1,120 lb (508 kg). Unfortunately for Sunbeam, the Sikh II, like the Sikh, found no applications.

Sunbeam Sikh I Olympia 1920

The Sunbeam Sikh I as displayed at the Olympia Air Show in 1920. Note the two spark plugs positioned under the valves on both sides of the cylinder, the pushrods in the Vee of the engine, and the four magnetos. In the left corner of the picture is the Short Silver Streak. (Stilltime Collection Image)

By 1927, British airship development had been renewed, and the R100 and R101 programs were underway. Sunbeam saw a new opportunity for the Sikh engine and developed the Sikh III strictly for airship use. The Sikh III was again a 60 degree V-12 engine, and most sources say it possessed the same bore, stroke, and displacement as the original Sikh. However, some original sources (Jane’s and Flight) say the bore was increased to 7.28 in (185 mm), which would give a total displacement of 4,134 cu in (67.7 L).

The individual cylinders of the Sikh III were redesigned and refined using a carbon steel barrel and a cast steel head. In addition, the valve train was completely redesigned. Each cylinder still had three exhaust valves, but the number of intake valves was reduced to two. The valves for each cylinder were enclosed in a common rocker cover. The rockers extended though the cover and were actuated by pushrods that ran between the cylinders. On the left cylinder bank, the exhaust rocker arm protruded out the rear of the cover, and the intake rocker arm protruded out the front. This configuration was reversed for the right cylinder bank. The crankshaft was forged from nickel-chromium steel and had six throws. Each cylinder had two spark plugs that were enclosed by the rocker cover. The spark plugs were fired by two magnetos driven at the rear of the engine.

Sunbeam Sikh II

The inline-six Sunbeam Sikh II was essentially half a Sikh I. Note the camshaft and pushrod arrangement in the rear view on the left. The front view image on the right illustrates the engine’s carburetors, valves, and lack of a propeller gear reduction.

The engine used two carburetors, which, along with the intake manifolds, were positioned in the Vee of the engine. Each carburetor supplied the air/fuel mixture to three cylinders of each bank. The propeller shaft of the Sikh III was geared to the crankshaft at a 0.567 reduction. The Sikh III produced 1,000 hp (476 kW) at 1,650 rpm and had a dry weight of 2,760 lb (1,252 kg). The engine was 7 ft 2 in (2.2 m) long, 3 ft 4 in (1.0 m) wide, and 6 ft 2 in (1.9 m) tall.

The Sikh III was first run in 1928 and was displayed at shows in 1929 and 1930. However, engines for the R100 and R101 airships had already been selected. The disastrous crash of the R101 airship in 1930 caused Britain to cease all further airship development, leaving the Sikh III without any possible applications.

Only small numbers of Sikh I, Sikh II, and Sikh III engines were built. Like many large aircraft engines built over the years, the Sunbeam Sikh engines were never installed in any aircraft or airships.

Sunbeam Sikh III

The Sunbeam Sikh III was intended for airship use but never found an application. Note the new cylinder heads. The exhaust valve pushrod can been seen on the rear left cylinder.

Sunbeam Aero-Engines by Alec Brew (1998)
Aerosphere 1939 by Glenn D. Angle (1940)
Jane’s All the World’s Aircraft 1927 by C. G. Grey
Jane’s All the World’s Aircraft 1929 by C. G. Grey
“The Sunbeam Motor Car Co., Ltd.” The Aeroplane (31 December 1919)
“Aero Engines at Olympia” The Aeroplane (21 July 1920)
“The Sunbeam Motor Car Co., Ltd.” Flight (18 July 1929)

Breguet-Bugatti 32A test

Bréguet-Bugatti 32A and 32B Quadimoteurs

By William Pearce

During World War I, Ettore Bugatti designed and built a U-16 aircraft engine. The engine consisted of two inline eight-cylinder sections mounted side-by-side on a common crankcase. Each eight-cylinder engine section had its own crankshaft and was built up of two four-cylinder blocks. The engine’s two crankshafts directly engaged a common propeller shaft. The Bugatti U-16 engine had a 4.33 in (110 mm) bore and a 6.30 in (160 mm) stroke. Total displacement was 1,485 cu in (24.3 L), and the engine produced 400 hp (298 kW) at 2,100 rpm.

Breguet-Bugatti 32A test

Two 16-cylinder engines positioned front-to-front comprised the Bréguet-Bugatti 32A (Quadimoteur Type A). From the gearbox between the two engines, the propeller shaft extended between the cylinder banks of the front (lower) engine. (Musée de l’Air et de l’Espace image via The Bugatti 100P Record Plane)

Each group of four cylinders had one carburetor attached to an intake manifold on the outside of the engine. The exhaust manifolds were between the cylinder banks. Two spark plugs for each cylinder were positioned on the intake side of the engine, and each cylinder had two intake valves and one exhaust valve. The valves were actuated by a single overhead camshaft that was driven via beveled gears by a vertical shaft positioned between the two blocks of four-cylinders that comprised the eight-cylinder engine section. The vertical shaft also drove the engine’s magnetos. Water was circulated through the engine by pumps driven at the rear of each crankshaft. A single housing for the camshaft served both four-cylinder blocks on one side of the engine.

Bugatti did not have the production capacity to manufacture the engine, so licensed production was undertaken in France by a group headed by Peugeot. An additional license was sold to the United States (the engine was built as the King-Bugatti by Duesenberg). Developmental and production issues resulted in few Bugatti-based U-16 engines being built during World War I. After the war, the licensed manufacturers moved on to other projects, and the French aviation firm Bréguet (Société des Ateliers d’Aviation Louis Bréguet) took over development of the Bugatti U-16 engine in 1919.

Breguet Type XXI and 32A

The Bréguet Type XXI Leviathan airframe fitted with the Bréguet-Bugatti 32A engine at the Salon de l’Aviation in Paris in 1921. The 32A installation in the Type XX was essentially the same. Note the U-16 engine to the left.

Bréguet made a few modifications to the Bugatti U-16 engine. Their first U-16 engines had a 4.25 in (108 mm) bore and a 6.30 in (160 mm) stroke. Total displacement was decreased by 54 cu in (.8 L) to 1,431 cu in (23.5 L), and the engine produced 480 hp (358 kW) at 2,150 rpm. A further development of the U-16 engine was the U.24. The U.24 engine had a 4.25 in (108 mm) bore and a 6.42 in (163 mm) stroke. Total displacement was 1,458 cu in (23.9 L), and the engine reportedly achieved 600 hp (447 kW) at 2,800 rpm.

A major change with the U.24 was how the propeller shaft was driven. In the original engine, if one of the two eight-cylinder sections were to fail, it would cause the entire engine to stop because the crankshafts were directly geared to the propeller shaft. In the Bréguet-Bugatti U.24 engine, the crankshafts drove the propeller shaft through freewheeling (or overrunning) clutch mechanisms. If one eight-cylinder engine section were to fail, the clutch would simply disengage the dead section’s crankshaft from driving the propeller shaft and allow the good engine section to continue to produce power. The two engine sections did share a common oil supply, so they were not completely independent.

Breguet Type XX and 32A

The Bréguet Type XX Leviathan powered by the 32A engine. Note the large radiator above the nose of the aircraft. The four exhaust ports (and a fair amount of soot) can be seen below the radiator. Each cylinder bank has its own exhaust manifold, and they all exit on the left side of the aircraft. The pilots can be seen above the “E” of the aircraft’s registration. (Pierre Bregerie image via

Bréguet envisioned grand applications for their engines, and in 1920, they devised the concept of coupling two U.24 engines (although the bore and stroke are given as 4.33 in/110 mm and 6.30 in/160 mm respectively) to power one propeller. The engines were positioned in tandem, front-to-front, with the rear engine slightly higher than the front engine. Each crankshaft was coupled to a gearbox between the two engines. A freewheeling clutch system was again used so that if any of the four eight-cylinder banks were to fail, the dead crankshaft would automatically decouple, and the remaining banks would continue to provide power.

If the dead engine bank was repaired, it could be recoupled to the propeller shaft. In line with each crankshaft was a sleeve that was permanently engaged to the propeller shaft. The sleeve was keyed so that the coupling on the end of the crankshaft could only engage it at a desired orientation. After the uncoupled engine section was started and brought up to the same rpm as the engine, an operator would pull a lever to slide the coupling on the crankshaft and reengage that crankshaft to the propeller shaft. However, even with the keyway, the crankshaft of a four-stroke engine could be coupled 360 degrees out of sync. To prevent this, a lead was attached to various spark plugs and would indicate when the lever should be thrown to recouple the crankshaft of the desired bank. This ensured the coupling would take place at the right time to maintain the desired firing order and power pulses of the engine sections upon the propeller shaft.

Breguet-Bugatti 32B front

This view of the Bréguet-Bugatti 32B (Quadrimoteur Type B) illustrates how two crankcase top haves of a U-16 engine are mounted on a common crankcase center section. This method of construction keeps the engine fairly modular: two four-cylinder blocks make up one bank; two banks on a common crankcase make up a U-16 top half; two U-16 top haves make up the 32B engine. (Aerofosslle2012 image via

The propeller shaft extended from the middle of the gearbox, ran between the cylinder banks of the front engine, and led to the propeller. Helical gears were used, and the gearbox incorporated a .5 to 1 reduction in speed. It is interesting to note that patent drawings show a configuration in which the front engine is higher than the rear engine and the propeller shaft passes below the front engine. However, this configuration was not used.

The engine group was known as the Bréguet-Bugatti 32A (or Quadimoteur Type A), and its output varies by source from 850 to 1,000 hp (634 to 746 kW). It is possible that all outputs were realized at different rpms—the 850 hp (634 kW) figure was achieved at 2,000 rpm. With a 4.33 in (110 mm) bore and 6.30 in (160 mm) stroke, the 32A displaced 2,969 cu in (48.7 L). The engine’s compression ratio was 4.2 to 1, and it weighed 2,482 lb (1,126 kg).

First run in 1921, a 32A engine was installed in the fuselage of the Bréguet Type XX Leviathan. The Type XX was an all-metal, biplane transport designed to carry 20 passengers. Compared to a standard twin-engine arrangement, the engine’s fuselage installation allowed for better aircraft streamlining, eliminated asymmetric thrust, and allowed the engines to be serviced while in flight. The engines turned two 14 ft 9 in (4.5 m) diameter two-blade propellers that were mounted in tandem. The Type XX had an 83 ft 7 in (25.54 m) wingspan and a length of 46 ft (14.02 m). The aircraft’s top speed was 118 mph (190 km/h), and it cruised at 99 mph (160 km/h).

Breguet-Bugatti 32B rear

The rear of the Bréguet-Bugatti 32B engine displayed in the engine mount used on the Type XXI Leviathan. The various levers controlled the manual coupling and decoupling of the crankshafts to the propeller shaft. (John Martin image via the Aircraft Engine Historical Society)

The sole Type XX first flew on 20 June 1922 with Bréguet test pilot Robert Thiéry at the controls. Flight testing went well, and the aircraft competed in the Grand Prix des Avions de Transport in November. On 14 November, the aircraft had the point lead when trouble occurred and it was forced down. There was little damage to the Type XX, but the aircraft could no longer win the Grand Prix. Apparently, the trouble occurred when one engine bank was shut down to replace its spark plugs, and a mechanic inadvertently shut down a second engine bank. The lack of power resulted in the emergency landing. Some sources state the aircraft was later destroyed during testing, but little information has been found regarding this claim. However, In September 1923, the Type XXII Leviathan of very similar construction (but with conventional engines installed between the wings) was destroyed during testing.

By 1924, Bréguet had moved on from the 32A’s cumbersome coupled engine concept and developed the Bréguet-Bugatti 32B (or Quadimoteur Type B) engine. Rather than having two separate engines, the 32B consisted of two U-16 crankcase top halves mounted on a common crankcase. The engine was configured as an H-32 in which one of the 16-cylinder crankcase halves was mounted in the normal vertical position, and the other was inverted. Each of the crankcase halves had two banks of eight cylinders, and each cylinder bank still had its own crankshaft. At the rear of the engine was a gearbox in which the four crankshafts were geared to a common propeller shaft at a .5 to 1 speed reduction. The gearbox employed the same coupling technique used with the 32A engine. Again, if a power section were to fail, that crankshaft would automatically decouple, and the remaining crankshafts would continue to provide power to the propeller shaft. The clutches also served to dampen vibrations between the individual crankshafts and the propeller shaft. The propeller shaft passed through the crankcase to drive the propeller at the front of the engine.

With the exception of the crankcase and propeller shaft, the 32B was very similar to the 32A and U-16 engines. One change was that each end of the camshafts drove a magneto. The cylinders had a 4.25 in (108 mm) bore and a 6.30 in (160 mm) stroke. The 32B had a total displacement of 2,862 cu in (46.9 L) and a compression ratio of 5.5 to 1. The engine produced 950 hp (708 kW) at 2,100 rpm and was tested to 1,015 hp (757 kW) in 1925. However, some sources indicate 1,200 hp (895 kW) was achieved at 2,800 rpm. The engine weighed 2,403 lb (1,090 kg).

Breguet-Bugatti 32B gear drive

The drive gears at the rear of the Bréguet-Bugatti 32B shown while the engine was under restoration. The image on the right shows the four crankshafts with their notched helical gears. The gears could slide on the crankshaft to couple or decouple with the propeller shaft, which is seen at the center of the crankcase. The image on the right shows the notched helical gears on the end of the propeller shaft. (l’Association Des Amis Du Musée Safran image)

Bréguet also built the Type XXI Leviathan, which was a military version (bomber) of the Type XX. In 1921 and 1922, the airframe of this aircraft was exhibited at the Salon de l’Aviation in Paris with the 32A engine installed—the same power plant used in the Type XX. However, the 32A engine in the Type XXI was substituted for a 32B. Unfortunately, little information has been found on the sole Bréguet Type XXI and its flying history. It is not clear when the 32A engine was removed and the 32B engine installed; presumably, it was not before 1925.

A large engine housed in the fuselage was found to take up too much space and did not yield much, if any, benefit. Bréguet subsequently refocused on conventional power plant arrangements. In addition, Bréguet did not see much of a return from its foray into aircraft engine design and manufacturing. The firm exited the aircraft engine business around 1926.

A Bréguet-Bugatti 32A (or Quadimoteur Type A) engine is in storage at the Musée de l’Air et de l’Espace in le Bourget (near Paris), France. This appears to be the engine that was installed in the Type XX aircraft. Probably only one or two of these engines were built. Also at the Musée de l’Air et de l’Espace is the Bréguet-Bugatti 32B (or Quadimoteur Type B), still in the engine mount for the Type XXI Leviathan. The 32B engine may be in storage, but it was displayed in the Hall de l’entre deux guerres. Most likely, only one 32B engine was built.

Breguet Type XXI and 32B

A rare image of the Bréguet Type XXI Leviathan with the Bréguet-Bugatti 32B engine installed. The aircraft was very similar to the Type XX, but with different wing struts. The frame of a gunner’s station is visible just behind the cockpit. (J. P. Mathieu image via Pyperpote)

The Bugatti 100P Record Plane by Jaap Horst (2013)
Bugatti – The Designer by Barry Eaglesfield (2013)
Les Moteurs a Pistons Aeronautiques Francais Tome I by Alfred Bodemer and Robert Laugier (1987)
Jane’s All the World’s Aircraft 1922 by C.G. Grey (1922)
“Device for the Automatic Coupling and Uncoupling of Engines Operating Upon a Common Propeller” U.S. patent 1,564,516 by Louis Breguet (granted 8 December 1925)
“Moteur Breguet-Bugatti 32B” l’Association Des Amis Du Musée Safran Bulletin No 15 (May 2012)
“The Breguet Leviathan Type XX” by E. H. Lemonon Aviation (25 April 1921)