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Why Gasoline Engines?

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  • Why Gasoline Engines?

    I have always wondered why the Germans did not employ diesel engines in their tanks. I would think technology would not be a problem, and certainly diesel fuel is easier than gasoline to refine, and I believe diesel would be less explosive...less likely to flame.

    Can anyone explain this?

  • #2
    Gasoline and diesel has approximately the same combustion temperature (246 and 210 degrees Celcius, respectively). Gasoline fumes are easier to ignite (having a flash point already at -40 degrees celcius, as opposed to the 65 degrees celcius of diesel). Since the argument against gasoline is based on gasoline combustion upon shell impact, however, this matters little, as the temperature will be higher than the combustion point of either fuel type.

    The only case where gasolines lower flash point would be a serious problem in the field, would be in an instance of a solid shot penetrating the fuel tank without igniting it, causing fuel to run onto the engine, which could then be ignited by a spark or secondary explosion. Note that bullets generally doesn't cause sparks (though tracer rounds could). Still, in most instances, diesel engines would burn just as good as gasoline ones.

    As for not using diesel, one explanation (which I have read elsewhere) would be that the Kriegsmarine needed most of the diesel which could be manufactured.
    Panzerworld
    Preserved Military Vehicle Registry Project More than 1000 Second World War-era museum vehicles on record

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    • #3
      Originally posted by C. Ankerstjerne View Post
      As for not using diesel, one explanation (which I have read elsewhere) would be that the Kriegsmarine needed most of the diesel which could be manufactured.
      Huh? This does not make sense! In the refining process of petrolum, diesel fuel, comes before gasoline, which requires a further cracking. The point being, the same petroleum would be used/would be needed whether it be for diesel or gasoline. However, diesel is easier/cheaper to make than gasoline (i.e., less refining), so I would think from a fuel standpoint, diesel would be preferred.

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      • #4
        Because every other military vehicle use gasoline?

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Ogukuo72 View Post
          Because every other military vehicle use gasoline?
          I do not know if this is true, but even so, that should not deter using diesel engines in the AFV's.

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          • #6
            It would certainly make fuel distribution easier, and since Germany used a lot of different vehicles, changing them all to diesel engines would have resulted in an acute lack of vehicles on all fronts.
            Panzerworld
            Preserved Military Vehicle Registry Project More than 1000 Second World War-era museum vehicles on record

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Tom D View Post
              I do not know if this is true, but even so, that should not deter using diesel engines in the AFV's.
              the German economy (and refineries) were based on gasoline, very similar to to the West's,...and Germany imported almost all her oil or (later on) used a synthetic brew. Even today, diesel is produced and used far less than it could be (especially considering the new tech). In Russia, the abundance of raw materials to make the light weight aluminium engines and plentiful oil and refinery capacity allowed for the large scale use of diesel engines on a much larger scale than in Germany.

              One does not simply "convert" a national industry such as refining without causing massive disruptions (the economy would likely grind to a halt). If Germany was already using diesel as the predominant fuel in the 1930s then it may have been possible,...but it wasn't. so...
              The Purist

              Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assault of thoughts on the unthinking - John Maynard Keynes.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by The Purist View Post
                the German economy (and refineries) were based on gasoline, very similar to to the West's,...and Germany imported almost all her oil or (later on) used a synthetic brew. Even today, diesel is produced and used far less than it could be (especially considering the new tech). In Russia, the abundance of raw materials to make the light weight aluminium engines and plentiful oil and refinery capacity allowed for the large scale use of diesel engines on a much larger scale than in Germany.

                One does not simply "convert" a national industry such as refining without causing massive disruptions (the economy would likely grind to a halt). If Germany was already using diesel as the predominant fuel in the 1930s then it may have been possible,...but it wasn't. so...
                Hence, the reason the Kriegsmarine had a corner on what diesel was being produced. Gas also made sense from a logistical perspective as well, when storming across Europe it was easier to refuel at local gas pumps when available, which were more likely to have gas not diesel. This is not of course to belittle the commonality advantages of having one fuel for Motorcycles to Panzers.
                Eternal War(gaming) Armoured Struggle Car Bob

                History does not record anywhere at any time a religion that has any rational basis.
                Lazarus Long

                Draw the blinds on yesterday and it's all so much scarier....
                David Bowie

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                • #9
                  Well I disagree with all of the above!! Before you all start shouting at me I have to say I don't know why, but I have not seen any convincing arguments yet. Can anybody back up their theories?

                  I believe Diesel would be as easy to refine as petrol. Remember, refineries don't produce oils of just 2 grades, petrol and diesel. Many grades of oil are produced for use as engine oil, hydraulic oil, light lubricating oils etc, etc.

                  As for petrol being easier to distribute, I really don't see it. How can petrol, which is much more volatile, be easier to transport than the same amounts of diesel?? As for using petrol stations being used along the way, how many tanks could refuel from the average 1930's petrol station? 1, maybe 2?

                  My personal opinion is just one tradition. Diesel engines were still fairly primitive. They were still seen as purely constant speed machines making them perfect for marine applications. Petrol engines were seen as better for changing loads and reacting quickly. They had always been used for cars (well, for the 30-40 years that cars had been on the planet).

                  Shame really that diesels, with there high torque, were perfect for tanks, would have been interesting to see a Panther with a comparative sized diesel.

                  Another question, with diesels about, why was the majority of the world using steam engines on rail ways? Same answer perhaps??

                  Wolster

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                  • #10
                    As for petrol being easier to distribute, I really don't see it. How can petrol, which is much more volatile, be easier to transport than the same amounts of diesel??
                    Because you only need to distribute one fuel type, rather than two.

                    As for using petrol stations being used along the way, how many tanks could refuel from the average 1930's petrol station? 1, maybe 2?
                    Hardly. Fuel tank capacities, in decending order:
                    Pz. Kpfw. IV: 470 l
                    Pz. Kpfw. III: 320 l
                    Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Mille Miglia Roadster: 173 l
                    Pz. Kpfw. II: 170 l (most common in 1940)
                    Pz. Kpfw. I: 146 l (most common in 1939)
                    VW Beetle: 40 l
                    Ford Model T: 37,9 l
                    Citroën 2 CV: 20 l

                    So, it's not unreasonable to assume, that you'd be able to refuel at least a company of Pz. Kpfw. IIs in one gas station.

                    Another question, with diesels about, why was the majority of the world using steam engines on rail ways?
                    Coal is cheaper, and safer to store, than diesel.
                    Panzerworld
                    Preserved Military Vehicle Registry Project More than 1000 Second World War-era museum vehicles on record

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by C. Ankerstjerne View Post
                      Coal is cheaper, and safer to store, than diesel.
                      Now, that's a thought - a coal-burning panzer!

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                      • #12
                        The Germans did use wood gas generators (Holzgasgenerator) on some vehicles. See for example the first photograph at http://www.waffenhq.de/panzer/kuebelwagen_2.html
                        Panzerworld
                        Preserved Military Vehicle Registry Project More than 1000 Second World War-era museum vehicles on record

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                        • #13
                          Thanks for the post! I have also seen some pics of wood/gas generators on trucks as well.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by C. Ankerstjerne View Post

                            Coal is cheaper, and safer to store, than diesel.
                            So why do we now use diesel locos now? The answer to my question is just as political as practical. To many people making to much money out of coal. Coal maybe cheaper but diesel is a lot more efficient!!

                            My point being that the same could have possibly have applied to why petrol engines were used over diesel.
                            Wolster

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                            • #15
                              There are several reasons why diesel-powered locomotives replaced coal-powered locomotives (which are now being replaced by electrically-powered locomotives).
                              • Diesel is now cheaper than before, due to massive subsidiaries.
                              • Coal-powered colomotives require cooling water, thus increasing travelling time.
                              • Coal pollutes more, which has become increasingly important to prevent after the fourties.
                              • It was not possible (or at least financially sound) to make a diesel engine with the power required by a locomotive.
                              Panzerworld
                              Preserved Military Vehicle Registry Project More than 1000 Second World War-era museum vehicles on record

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