First aircraft engines (photo diary)

Above, the Salmson Z-9 engine (France, 1918). It produced 280 hp and weighed 473 pounds.
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Above, the ABC Wasp engine (Great Britain, 1918). It produced 170 hp and weighed 290 pounds.
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Above, the Bentley BR2 engine (Great Britain, 1917). It produced 230 hp and weighed 500 pounds.
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Above, the Renault 12 Fe engine (France, 1917). It produced 300 hp and weighed 794 pounds.
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Above, the Curtiss K-12 engine (USA, 1917). It produced 375 hp and weighed 678 pounds.
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Above, the Benz Bz.IV engine (Germany, 1916). It produced 200 hp and weighed 848 pounds.
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Above, the Anzani 10 engine (France, Great Britain, 1915). It produced 90 to 100 hp and weighed 121 pounds.
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Above, the RAF 1A engine (Great Britain, 1913). It produced 90 hp and weighed 440 pounds.
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Above, the Fiat A-12 engine (Italy, 1916). It produced 280 hp and weighed 920 pounds.
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Above, the Sturtevant 5A engine (USA, 1916-1917).

According to the Museum:

The Sturtevant 5A engine, rated at 140 hp, powered the Sturtevant S-4 and some LWF V-1 trainer aircraft used by the Signal Corps at North Island, California, and Mineola, NY, in 1916 and 1917. None of these aircraft proved suitable, in part because of the 5A engine’s high power-to-weight ratio of 3.5 pounds per horsepower. The Army quickly replaced these aircraft with the Standard J-1 and Curtiss JN-4 trainers.

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Above is the Wright 6-60 engine (USA).

According to the Museum:

The US Army Signal Corps used water-cooled 6-cylinder Wright engines to power its Wright Model C and D aircraft. Although initially rated at 50 hp, this upgraded version of the Wright 6-cylinder had 60 hp (“6 -60” referred to its 6-cylinder 60 hp capacity).

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Above is the Roberts Model 4-X engine (USA). It developed 50 hp and weighed 170 pounds.

According to the Museum:

This water-cooled four-cylinder engine was made by the Roberts Motor Co. of Sandusky, Ohio around 1910. Roberts used secret alloys he called “Aerotite” and “Magnalium” to improve performance and reduce weight . The engine, weighing 170 pounds and developing 50 hp, was used in some American-owned Benoist and Blériot aircraft. It cost $1,500 mail-order when new.

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Above, the Kirkham 4-cylinder engine (USA, 1912-1914). It developed 40 hp.

According to the Museum:

Charles B. Kirkham of Savona, NY, made this water-cooled four-cylinder engine circa 1912-1914. Its exact origin is unclear, but Hillery Beachy, a well-known early aviator, was likely involved in its design or use. Although it looks like an automatic engine, similar Kirkham engines powered several early aircraft. Roe Tanner, mason and brick inventor, used this 40 hp Kirkham in Attica, Ohio, around 1914 to test ideas for variable-pitch propellers.

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Above, the Curtiss V2-3 engine (USA, 1916-1917). It is rated at 200 hp.

According to the Museum:

In 1916 and 1917, Curtiss produced R-3 and R-4 aircraft for the US Army Signal Corps, some of which were used by the 1st Aero Squadron in the Mexican punitive expedition. The Curtiss V2-3 engine, rated at 200 hp, powered both of these aircraft; however, it had a poor power-to-weight ratio—nearly four pounds for every 1 hp—which adversely affected the aircraft’s performance. By comparison, the World War I Liberty engine had a weight ratio of two pounds per horsepower.

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Above is the Curtiss OX-5 engine (USA). This 90 hp engine was used in the Curtiss “Jenny” aircraft.

According to the Museum:

Thousands of water-cooled OX-5 engines were produced in the United States during World War I, primarily for the Curtiss Jenny aircraft. The engine, a refinement of a 1914 design, was rated at just 90 hp. Compared to other aircraft engines of the time, it was very reliable. Some OX-5 engines are still used in restored Jenny aircraft across the country.

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Above, the LeRhone C-9 engine (France, 1916). This 90 hp engine weighed 240 pounds.
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Above, the Oberursel UR-2 rotary engine (Germany).

According to the Museum:

The Oberursel UR-2 rotary engine, rated at 110 hp, was the type used to power the Fokker Dr.1 triplane. Built by the Oberursel Motoren Gesellschaft from Frankfurt, Germany, it was an exact copy of the famous 110 hp French LeRhone rotary engine.

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Above, the Gnome N-9 rotary engine (France, 1909). It was one of the most important early aviation designs.

According to the Museum:

The French Gnome engine was one of the most important early aviation designs and a primary source of aircraft power for the Allies during World War I. First appearing in 1909, this type of engine was developed into several designs and used throughout the war. The 9-cylinder model on display at the museum is typical of Gnome design.

The Gnome was a rotary type, meaning the motor and propeller were bolted together and both rotated around a fixed shaft. The air passing over the hot cylinders cooled the rotating engine. Gnome Single valve Engines (single valve) like the one shown had one valve per cylinder acting as both air intake and exhaust. Fuel was mixed with air not in a carburetor, but in the hollow center shaft, where the air-fuel mixture entered each cylinder at its base.

Gnome engines were reliable and powerful for their weight, but had some drawbacks. First, the gyroscopic effect of the heavy, spinning engine made fast left turns easy, but right turns were difficult. Second, the engine used a large amount of fuel and lubricating castor oil, and some of the unburned oil was thrown from the spinning engine, making life unpleasant for the pilot a few feet behind him. A cowling around the engine directed most of this under the plane, but thick, greasy fumes and oil inevitably covered the pilot. Castor oil was used because it burns cleanly, but pilots joked about its well-known laxative effect.

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Above, the King-Bugatti U-16 engine (USA, 1918). This 410 hp engine weighed 1,286 pounds.
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Above, the Liberty L-8 engine (USA, 1917). This 270 hp engine weighed 575 pounds.
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Above, the Liberty L-6 engine (USA, 1918). This 215 hp engine weighed 550 pounds.
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Above, the Liberty L-4 engine (USA, 1918). This 102 hp engine weighed 398 pounds.
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Above is the Packard Liberty 12A engine (USA, 1923). This 449 hp engine weighed 844 pounds.
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Above is the Wright R-790 engine (USA, 1920s).

According to the Museum:

The 225 hp R-790 was a standard US Air Corps radial engine used in several types of aircraft in the 1920s and 1930s. Some major long-distance flights at this time featured R-790s.

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Above is the Liberty 12-A inverted engine (USA, 1918). This 425 hp engine weighed 845 pounds. It was one of America’s greatest technological contributions during World War I. The engine was reversed to improve pilot visibility. During the war, 20,748 Liberty 12s were manufactured.

According to the Museum:

The inverted Liberty is a conversion of the famous Liberty 12, one of America’s greatest technological contributions during World War I. During the war, 20,478 Liberty 12s were produced in the United States and used primarily in US-built DH-4s, the only American one. -made an airplane to fight on the Western Front.

The first attempts to reverse the Liberty engine took place in 1918-19, but technical problems delayed the first flight until 1923. The reversed Liberty 12-As, produced until 1926, were conversions of the standard engine . Most were used in the Loening OA-1 amphibians, designed specifically for the inverted engine. Among the advantages were the elevated position of the propeller (for hull clearance in the amphibian), better visibility and easier access for mechanics.

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Above, the Curtiss D-12 engine (USA, 1921).

According to the Museum:

The 375 hp Curtiss D-12 engine, introduced in 1921, became one of the most successful aircraft engines of the 1920s. Developed from the Curtiss K-12 engine used in World War I, the D -12 replaced the gears connecting the crankshaft to the propeller with a more reliable direct drive connection, hence the “D” for direct drive. Additionally, Curtiss attached a new propeller designed by acoustic engineer Dr. SA Reed. It could spin at a higher speed than conventional propellers, allowing the engine to use its full power. This combination has made the D-12 the most advanced power plant in the world.

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Above, the Curtiss V-1570 Conqueror engine (USA, 1926). This 675 hp engine weighed 770 pounds.
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Above, the Wright R-1820 Cyclone engine (USA, 1931).

According to the Museum:

The Wright Aeronautical Corp. introduced the air-cooled 9-cylinder R-1820 radial engine in 1931. Developed from the earlier “Cyclone” engines of the late 1920s, the larger and more powerful R-1820 produced 575 hp; however, engineers significantly improved its performance over many years of production, with several later versions being rated at 1,525 hp.

Although the R-1820 has powered thousands of military and civilian aircraft, it remains best known as the engine that powered Boeing’s B-17 Flying Fortress during World War II.

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Above is the Almen A-4 Barrel engine (USA, 1920s). This 425 hp engine weighed 749 pounds.

According to the Museum:

The water-cooled A-4 barrel engine (18 cylinders – two groups of nine each horizontally opposed) was the fourth experimental barrel engine built for testing at McCook Field, Ohio, by its inventor, Mr. JO Almen of Seattle, Washington. The project began in 1921 and by the mid-1920s the A-4 passed its acceptance tests. However, the engine never entered production, apparently due to limited funds and the US Army Air Corps’ increasing emphasis on air-cooled radial engines.

This unique engine had a much smaller frontal area than other water-cooled engines of similar horsepower, providing better streamlining and less air resistance. It was rated at 425 hp but weighed only 749 pounds (a power-to-weight ratio of more than one to two), a significant design achievement in the early 1920s.

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Above is the Packard 3A-2500 engine (USA, 1926). This 800 hp engine weighed 1,425 pounds.
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Above is the Ranger L-4400 engine.

According to the Museum:

The L-440 air-cooled inverted six-cylinder inline engine was manufactured by the Ranger Aircraft Engine Division of Fairchild Engine and Airplane Corp. Built in several versions ranging from 175 hp to 200 hp, the L-440 series engines powered over 6,000 Fairchild PT-19s and PT-26s during World War II.

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Jack C. Nugent