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World War II Aircraft Engines

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  • World War II Aircraft Engines

    As a Part II of sorts to My Best Fighter of World War II Debate going on, in your opinion, which was the better type of Aircraft Engine?

    The Radials (or) The Inlines?????

    I realize that The P-47 had the 2,000 Horsepower Pratt & Whitney's, but there was also The Rolls Royce Engined P-51's & Spitfires that come into mind.

    Also, while way off subject really, how Many Tractors at Tractor Pulls do you see with Radial Aircraft Engines?

    There has to be a reason they use those V-12 Allisons.

  • #2
    The radials were capable of more power output and were generally shorter and lighter than in line fluid cooled engines.

    They were larger in cross section and had more drag, due to their size and their requirement for air cooling the cylinders. This large size also provided protection for the pilot. Fluid cooled engines required air for cooling also, but it was possible to locate the radiator to a position where drag was reduced, or in the case of the Mustang the heat was used to produce thrust, much like a ram jet engine. The coolant was a problem if battle damage caused a leak, causing engine failure.

    Lycoming made a fluid cooled radial that was absolutely huge, 7755 cubic inches, 5000 horsepower (target was 7000 hp).

    No one made a really huge in line engine, the Rolls Merlin and Griffon were about 1650 cu. inches, the BMW801 was about 2500 cu. inches.

    http://www.pilotfriend.com/aero_engines/aero_xr7755.htm
    "Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen." - Albert Einstein

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    • #3
      Duke,

      I think some governments ran with their best engines (Great Britain and the Rolls Royce). Some like the Germans had fine Radial and liquid cooled engines. The Japanese had fits trying to produce liquid cooled engines. The US arguably was behind with liquid cooled engines, but produced some of the biggest and best radials.

      The P-40 arguably did not perform well until they put a Merlin derivative in it. I always wondered what the P-38 would have been like if the US had put Merlins in it. Export designs of US radials (Wright, Pratt and Whitney) were built all over the world.

      I don't know much about Soviet engines, maybe someone else can chime in?

      Pruitt
      Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

      Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

      by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"

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      • #4
        I guess it depends on what you consider to be more important.

        IMHO, I look at it this way:

        There were aircraft with both radial and in-line engines that had excellent performance. It doesn't seem like either engine had a monopoly on "best fighter" contenders, so I'd argue, they are roughly equal.

        BUT...radials have one clear advantage: ability to sustain battle damage. I've heard of P-47 or Hellcat pilots who made it back from missions with holes shot through the engine, or entire cylinders shot out.

        I'd argue that radial engines are better for the following types:

        1. Naval fighters - with an in-line, radiator damage or coolant leaks are just one more way your engine can fail. Engine failure in a naval environment is much more serious than over land, since if you come down in the water your chances of survival are MUCH smaller.

        2. Ground attack aircraft, or fighters which are used extensively in a ground-attack role. Again, you're more likely to have a lot of lead flying at you and having a bit of shrapnel damage the radiator isn't a good thing. Granted, you can add armor protection to an in-line design in a dedicated ground attack aircraft, but this is going to add weight and therefore lower performance.

        For heavy and medium bombers, this is less important, because you are going to have 2-4 engines, so having an engine damaged will not leave you entirely without power. For fighters designed as bomber interceptors in a defensive role, it is also less important, since at least you can bail out over friendly territory.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by 88L71 View Post
          I'd argue that radial engines are better for the following types:

          1. Naval fighters - with an in-line, radiator damage or coolant leaks are just one more way your engine can fail. Engine failure in a naval environment is much more serious than over land, since if you come down in the water your chances of survival are MUCH smaller.
          The radial engine is also shorter in length than an in line engine; this makes it possible to build shorter length aircraft which means more aircraft on a carrier's limited space.
          "Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen." - Albert Einstein

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          • #6
            Stop talking like a soft **** and set speakers to stun Mr. Odim.
            http://www.spitcrazy.com/spitsound.htm
            The long toll of the brave
            Is not lost in darkness
            Over the fruitful earth
            And athwart the seas
            Hath passed the light of noble deeds
            Unquenchable forever.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by w john spurrell View Post
              The radial engine is also shorter in length than an in line engine; this makes it possible to build shorter length aircraft which means more aircraft on a carrier's limited space.
              Yep, and one of the criticisms of the Corsair was the poor forward visibility in a carrier landing due to the long nose. Of course, the Corsair had a radial engine, but an in-line engined aircraft the long nose would probably have raised similar objections.

              IIRC one of the reasons the Bearcat was "down-sized" vs. the F6F was that it would take up less space and could operate on small escort carriers, and could be carried in larger numbers on fleet carriers.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by 88L71 View Post
                For heavy and medium bombers, this is less important, because you are going to have 2-4 engines, so having an engine damaged will not leave you entirely without power. For fighters designed as bomber interceptors in a defensive role, it is also less important, since at least you can bail out over friendly territory.
                So why did the majority of bombers have radial engines? Surly, with the reasons stated above, it would be better to use the in-line engines on the bombers and the radials on the fighters? The only bombers with in-line that immediately spring to mind are the Lancaster (BII version being the exception) and Mossie for the allied side. Not saying the above is wrong, just doesn’t seem to be a hard and fast rule.

                I can't really think of a valid, definitive reason for one over the other. Possibly it just boils down to individual tastes. Maybe in Europe the inline was considered more streamlined and better for speed whilst radials provided more drag. Therefore, bombers used the radials and fighters used the in-lines.

                One notable aircraft that changed from radials to in-lines during the war was the Fw-190, why was this? Was it engine availability or was the in-line considered better?
                Wolster

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                • #9
                  The majority of British bombers did have inline engines. The Germans used both kinds. The Russians used a lot of inline engines on bombers. It was the Americans with their expertise with radials that had the biggest market for radial engined bombers and supplied many to their allies. The Japanese bombers were all radial.

                  Pruitt
                  Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

                  Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

                  by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Pruitt View Post
                    The majority of British bombers did have inline engines. The Germans used both kinds. The Russians used a lot of inline engines on bombers. It was the Americans with their expertise with radials that had the biggest market for radial engined bombers and supplied many to their allies. The Japanese bombers were all radial.

                    Pruitt
                    Of significant British types (medium/heavy bombers) I can think of, the Stirling, Wellington, Halifax (BIII), Blenhiem, Beaufort, Whitley & Hampden were all fitted with radials.
                    The Mossie, Lancaster (BI & BIII), Manchester and Halifax (BI & BII) were fitted with in-line engines.

                    The Lancaster BII used Bristol Hercules radials but this was just an experiment to asses the performance in case the production of Merlins was interupted.

                    Another question, what appened to rotary engines? Much used during WW1, had they lost any advantage by WW2?
                    Wolster

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                    • #11
                      190 was switched over to V-12 to get better high altitude performance. They lacked the high grade steel to mass produce turbosuperchargers, ( tried ceramics, which melted).

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Wolster View Post
                        Another question, what appened to rotary engines? Much used during WW1, had they lost any advantage by WW2?
                        Many of the best regarded airplanes of WW2 were equiped with rotary engines. Even at the end of the war, the US had the F8F and the Brits had the Fury......................would you consider those planes to be at a disadvantage against inline engined planes?

                        Consider the A-1 Skyraider. Designed during WW2 it remained in US service in Vietnam until the end of 1972 when they were transfered to VNAF.
                        Flag: USA / Location: West Coast

                        Prayers.

                        BoRG

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by salinator View Post
                          Many of the best regarded airplanes of WW2 were equiped with rotary engines. Even at the end of the war, the US had the F8F and the Brits had the Fury......................would you consider those planes to be at a disadvantage against inline engined planes?

                          Consider the A-1 Skyraider. Designed during WW2 it remained in US service in Vietnam until the end of 1972 when they were transfered to VNAF.

                          Don't confuse Rotary engines with Radial engines Sal, a rotary engine is one where the crankshaft is fixed and the pistons turn around it where as radial engines have fixed pistons and the crankshaft turns. The idea of rotary engines was that as the pistons were turning even with the aircraft stood still there was cooling air going across the piston.
                          Wolster

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                          • #14
                            Rotary (as distinct from radial) engines died out for several reasons: poor fuel economy, disadvantages of the gyroscopic effect, and a lot of power was wasted in moving the engine around, especially at high RPM's where drag became an issue.

                            However, wiht the low RPM's and engine technology of the WWI era, they had a good power to weight ratio.

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                            • #15
                              Now To Ask Another Question Related To These Engines

                              back in the day, was Fuel for these Aircraft Engines just the same normal gasoline (or) diesel that was used in their Cars, Trucks & Tanks?

                              And if it was the same gasoline, when did fuel for airplanes become Fuel for airplanes & another fuel for cars & trucks?

                              Also, is Jet Fuel different from Prop fuel?

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