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What was the best aircraft engine of the war?

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  • What was the best aircraft engine of the war?

    Well, what was the best aircraft engine of the war? Let's break it down some into radials, in-lines, and if you want to discuss it, jet engines.

    I would expect a lot of people to say the Merlin overall, but I'm nowhere close to convinced that's the case.

  • #2
    Citations work well with discussion such as these.
    "In modern war... you will die like a dog for no good reason."
    Ernest Hemingway.

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    • #3
      I love the English Rolls Royce Merlin, the sound alone....but my pick would be the Daimler-Benz DB 605.
      Last edited by walle; 19 Jul 18, 18:42.

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      • #4
        For in-line engines, the Allison V 1710 has a lot of advantages over the competition. Sure, it needs a turbocharger to get high altitude performance, but otherwise it's an excellent engine.

        It had about half the parts a Merlin had making it far more mass producible. Specific fuel consumption is generally a bit better than a Merlin too. The tolerancing and design of the engine made it more reliable with models ranging from about 300 to 1000 hours between overhauls in normal service.

        As a good example of this in an aircraft take the P-40. There were Merlin and Allison versions. Performance, except altitude performance between the two are almost identical. Because of the Allison's better availability and reliability, many Merlin P-40's ended up re-engined with Allison's.

        In the Mustang, the most of the performance increase is attributable to changes in the aircraft's detail design, such as a rework of the ventral radiator intake, and the nose fairing for the Merlin. The Allison and Merlin versions otherwise produce almost the same horsepower. Yes, the Merlin does have the advantage above 15,000 feet, but that's it.

        The DB 600 series is another competitor here.

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        • #5
          For radial:

          Pratt & Whitney R-2800 Double Wasp
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pratt_...00_Double_Wasp
          Whiskey for my men, and beer for my horses.
          TANSTAAFL = There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch
          Bock's First Law of History: The Past shapes the Present, which forms the Future. *

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          • #6
            The Allison has to lose against the Merlin, if only for the Mustang example. The Americans choose to equip their principle land based air superiority fighter with the Merlin, specifically replacing the Allison. Pretty much says it all. Given the natural prejudice against using foreign designs
            the US wasn’t going to do that unless there was a big advantage.
            "To be free is better than to be unfree - always."

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Surrey View Post
              The Allison has to lose against the Merlin, if only for the Mustang example. The Americans choose to equip their principle land based air superiority fighter with the Merlin, specifically replacing the Allison. Pretty much says it all. Given the natural prejudice against using foreign designs
              the US wasn’t going to do that unless there was a big advantage.
              The Americans put the Merlin in the P-40F and K too just for the altitude performance. That was the sole justification for the change. When the war ended, RR started demanding large royalties for Packard to continue production. So, the USAF ended Merlin production and switched to late model Allison's with a secondary stage supercharger that-- when it worked right (there were issues with the reliability)-- performed as well or better than the Merlin. These engines went into the P-63, P-51K, P-82, etc.

              Another interesting factoid is Allison managed to create a "double Allison," the V 3420. This saw use in just the XP-75 Eagle and XP-58 Chain Lightning, along with a couple of other prototype installations. Unlike RR's doubling up of the Peregrine as the RR Vulture which proved a failure, or the DB 606 (used on the He 177), it proved reliable.

              But, most of the P-51's improved performance with the Merlin conversion came from cleaning up the airframe and changes to the plane itself, not the engine. The Merlin just brought better altitude performance.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by G David Bock View Post
                For radial:

                Pratt & Whitney R-2800 Double Wasp
                https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pratt_...00_Double_Wasp
                Pratt and Whitney's R-2800 (46 L) Double Wasp was America's first 18 cylinder radial engine. Although much smaller than the world's only other modern eighteen cylinder engine, the 3,442 cu in. (56.4 L) Gnome-Rhone 18L, it was nevertheless more powerful. While the Gnome-Rhône 18L produced 1,300 hp (970 kW), the R-2800 averaged 2,000 hp (1,490 kW). By 1950, the engine was able to produce 2,400 hp (1,790 kW) and with water injection as high as 3,400 hp (2,535 kW) for
                emergency combat conditions.1
                http://www.aviation-history.com/engines/pr-2800.htm

                Without that beast no P-47, No Wildcat, No Corsair. All of those were very good fighters.
                Credo quia absurdum.


                Quantum mechanics describes nature as absurd from the point of view of common sense. And yet it fully agrees with experiment. So I hope you can accept nature as She is - absurd! - Richard Feynman

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by G David Bock View Post
                  For radial:

                  Pratt & Whitney R-2800 Double Wasp
                  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pratt_...00_Double_Wasp
                  Second place should go to

                  Wright R-3350 Duplex-Cyclone
                  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wright...Duplex-Cyclone
                  Whiskey for my men, and beer for my horses.
                  TANSTAAFL = There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch
                  Bock's First Law of History: The Past shapes the Present, which forms the Future. *

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                  • #10
                    Probably the British Merlin, along with the Wright Cyclone radial engine. Like all such "best" categories it all depends on what you plan to use it for. It also helps to know if the engine is air or water cooled, v or in-line configuration and carbureted or injected, just for starters.

                    As just one example, at the beginning of the battle of Britain, British fighters were losing power because carbureted engines lost fuel flow when the pilot went inverted, while the fuel injected German engines worked perfectly.

                    I notice you have have displayed no interest in the major German aircraft engine of the war, the Junkers Jumo, which was also excellent.
                    Last edited by Mountain Man; 18 Jul 18, 18:44.
                    Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes? Who is watching the watchers?

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                    • #11
                      I don't think it's a good idea to start tossing around aircraft names. It's obvious that the performance of an aircraft can't depend solely on the engine.

                      So what I'd like to see, for starters, is the engines' power output, their weight, and therefore the power-to-weight ratio. The engine with the best power for its own weight sure is a strong contender for the first place, at least until one starts looking into reliability and other factors, such as the altitude where top power output could be reached.
                      Michele

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Michele View Post
                        I don't think it's a good idea to start tossing around aircraft names. It's obvious that the performance of an aircraft can't depend solely on the engine.

                        So what I'd like to see, for starters, is the engines' power output, their weight, and therefore the power-to-weight ratio. The engine with the best power for its own weight sure is a strong contender for the first place, at least until one starts looking into reliability and other factors, such as the altitude where top power output could be reached.
                        Exactly.

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                        • #13
                          For the benefit of the uneducated among you...

                          There is only one WW2 aeroplane engine heard, even to this day that makes everybody look toward the empty blue, now that's the work of a magician...











                          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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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Von Richter View Post
                            For the benefit of the uneducated among you...

                            There is only one WW2 aeroplane engine heard, even to this day that makes everybody look toward the empty blue, now that's the work of a magician...




                            I didn't know there was an engine named Gandalf...


                            “Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth.” -- Albert Einstein

                            The US Constitution doesn't need to be rewritten it needs to be reread

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by slick24 View Post

                              I didn't know there was an engine named Gandalf...

                              I thought it was Harry Potter, just later in life. The owl was the giveaway...

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