As airframe design evolved, so did the need for more reliable, more powerful aircraft engines. The British Columbia Aviation Museum has a extensive collection of early and modern aircraft engines including air and water-cooled internal combustion engines, jet turbine engines and turbo prop engines all on display.
Most of our engines on display are air cooled, but we start with a liquid cooled V-12 of the late 1930s which became a major US combat engine of the Second World War. The Allison had a typical rating of 1,475 hp and weighed 1,595 lb. It was rugged and reliable but its high altitude performance suffered for the lack of a good super-charger. It was fitted in the Lockheed P-38 “Lightning”, the Bell P-39 “Airacobra”, and the Curtis P-40 “Kittyhawk”. The latter served with the RCAF at Patricia Bay.
The majority of our air-cooled piston engines are “radials”. A display by the Avro “Anson” shows how a radial works. The Lincoln “Sport Plane” clearly displays the simplest of this type, the 35hp three-cylinder Anzani. This was a French engine licence-produced in the USA.
Bristol Type 734 “Hercules”
As part of a long series of radial engines, Bristol in the UK introduced the “Hercules” in the late 1930s. Its initial rating was 1,250 hp, but it remained in production until the 1950s by which time power had increased to slightly over 2,020 hp. This 14 cylinder, two-row, sleeve-valve radial was one of the most significant British military engines of World War II, produced in large numbers for the “Beaufighter”, “Halifax”, “Stirling”, “Wellington” and a few “Lancasters”. It was also used in civilian aircraft after the War, and our example is a 2,020 hp variant from a Bristol “Freighter”.
Look up at the 165 hp six-cylinder Curtis “Challenger” R-600 in the Eastman “Sea Rover”. It is different! On the one hand it uses a simple three cylinder radial layout, but there are two banks of three cylinders to make it the world’s smallest two-row radial.
deHavilland “Gipsy 1”
Another relatively simple engine is the deHavilland “Gipsy 1”, the forerunner of a successful series. This British four cylinder in-line air cooled engine was in production from 1928 until 1934. It offered 90 hp and weighed 285 lb. Applications included the deHavilland “Moth”, Avro “Avian” and the Curtis-Read “Rambler’.
deHavilland “Gipsy Major”
The “Gipsy 1” had a low thrust line which posed a clearance problem for airframe designers, so the “Gipsy Major” of 1932 was inverted to offer more clearance for the propeller. The basic layout was unchanged – four cylinder, in-line, and the power rating was raised to 130 - 145 hp for 305 lb weight. The most important application was the classic “Tiger Moth”.
Evinrude outboard engines have been modified to power such aircraft as our Scorpion II kit helicopter built in the '70s. A 140 hp motor provides the helicopter with a 435 pound load capacity and a 75 mph cruising speed!
Franklin Model 4AC
Aircooled Motors created a series of small air-cooled “flat fours”. Ours dates from 1946 and offers 90 hp. It was used in the Stinson “Voyager”, but the Franklin was also used in the Bell 47 light helicopter and the Republic Seabee amphibian.
Hall Scott L-4
In 1913 Hall Scott adapted a 4 cylinder, in-line marine engine as an aircraft power plant. It weighed 410 lb, and provided 90 to 100 hp. It is of particular interest in that it powered many early Boeing aircraft.
Jacobs L4 MB
This US seven cylinder radial was first run in 1934, and remained in production for 40 years. It offered between 200 and 350 hp in its various versions, with a typical weight of 465 lbs. It proved to be a rugged and reliable engine for trainers and light transports. It was best known locally for powering the ”Ansons” and Cessna “Cranes” of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan.
LeBlond Model 5D
Before the flat four took over the small aircraft market there were a variety of diminutive radials available to aircraft manufacturers in the 1930s. Our LeBlond Model 5D was a five cylinder, 65 hp American example, which was applied to a number of light sporting aircraft.
An important First World War vintage oddity was the so-called “rotary”, where the cylinders freely rotated around the crank shaft. Genuine articles are extremely rare, but we have a 7/8th scale replica LeRhone in the Nieuport 17. It was created by Jeff Phillips.
Lycoming IO 360 A 1B
Work-horses of the post-war era are the vast numbers of four-cylinder flat fours made by Continental and Lycoming. Our 200 hp Lycoming IO 360 is typical in most senses, but it has an interesting history. This engine powered a Lake “Buccaneer” amphibian owned by BC artist Toni Onley, who lost his life in a crash in 2004. The engine, propeller and pylon were salvaged and restored as a tribute to Toni.
Pratt & Whitney R-985 “Wasp Jr.”
Another very significant engine in the history of bush planes and trainers is Pratt & Whitney’s “Wasp” which was first run at the end of 1925. It soon delivered 425 hp for a weight of just under 650 lb. A family of “Wasp” engines was developed, and our examples can be seen in the Noorduyn “Norseman” and the North American “Harvard”. On separate display is a “Wasp Junior R-985-AN14-B” in an “exploded” format clearly showing its component parts.
Pratt & Whitney R-2800
A particularly significant engine is P & W’s R-2800, two of which are clearly visible on our Douglas A-26 “Invader”. This was truly a war-winning engine from World War II. It is an eighteen-cylinder two-row radial that was fitted in many famous fighters including the Grumman F6F “Hellcat”, Vought F8U “Corsair” and Republic P-47 “Thunderbolt”.
Ranger Aviation L-440-3
The Ranger is an American six-cylinder, in-line air cooled engine offering 200 hp. Its applications included the Fairchild PT19 “Cornell” and the PT 26 trainers which were used at Patricia Bay during the Second World War. Another locally significant application was the Grumman “Widgeon” amphibian.
Rolls Royce (Packard) “Merlin” Mark 29
Probably the best known aircraft engine of all time, the “Merlin” is a V-12 liquid cooled classic that originated in the early 1930s. It had its problems in the early years but was developed into a war winner powering a great variety of British combat aircraft. The most famous was the “Spitfire”, but the list included the “Hurricane”, “Mosquito”, and “Lancaster” to name only the most important. Developments ranged from Mk 1 to Mk 71, and over 155,000 were built.
In 1941 a licence was signed with Packard in the USA to build an Americanised version of the “Merlin”. The most important application was to be North American Aviation’s “Mustang”. Our exhibit is a Mk 29, built by Packard, but intended for a Canadian-built Hawker “Hurricane”. It was donated to the Museum by Bill Simpson.
Rotax is an Austrian company that is now part of the Bombardier group. It made tiny engines for snowmobiles, but they became popular for very small sporting aircraft. They have since been made in great numbers. Ours is a two-cylinder air-cooled model.
Wright “Cyclone 9” R-1820
This classic US nine-cylinder radial dates from 1931. Its original rating was 575 hp, but it remained in production until the 1950s by which time the power rating had climbed to 1,525hp! Its best known applications over the years were the B-17 “Flying Fortress”, the DC-3/C-47 “Dakota”, the North American T-28B, and Grumman “Tracker”. We have two examples, one of which was restored by Jeff Phillips. The other is in a power egg from a “Tracker”.
Wright “Cyclone 18” R-3350-24WA
In many respects the “Cyclone 18” is a two-row development of the “Cyclone 9”. Of course it has 18 cylinders and was usually supercharged. It was first run in 1937 and remained in production into the 1950s. Power was typically 2,500 hp, and famous applications included the Boeing B-29 ”Super Fortress”, Fairchild C-119 “Packet”, Lockheed C-121 “Constellation”, and Douglas A-1 “Skyraider”. Our example is a time-expired engine from a Martin “Mars” flying boat, donated by Forest Industries Flying Tankers.
Avro Canada “Orenda 11”
Avro Canada was set up in 1946, and the Engine Division soon set about developing gas turbine aircraft engines. A small axial turbojet was built, which provided experience to design and build the “Orenda”, which first ran in 1949. Numerous versions were developed through to the Mk 14. Applications were the company’s CF-100 all-weather fighter and the Canadair licence-built F-86 “Sabre 5” and “Sabre 6”. Our example is a 7,300 lb.s.t (3,311 kg) “Orenda 11”. It proved to be a very successful engine at a time when axial flow turbojets were quite troublesome.
In 1953 Avro Canada started to design the PS-13, and in 1956 the Engine Division was renamed Orenda Engines, and the PS-13 became the “Iroquois”. This extremely powerful engine was intended for the Avro “Arrow”, but that is another story!
Pratt & Whitney (Canada) PT-6A-20
During the 1950s and early 1960s Pratt & Whitney (Canada) experimented with small gas turbine engines. As a result the simple and highly reliable PT-6 was certified in December 1963 at 500 shp. They have been built in both turboshaft and turboprop forms, and are still in production. Over 52,000 have been built since 1963 for over 130 applications. Ours is an early A-20 of 500 shp, but most modern ones are rated at 1,150 shp, with a few going as high as 1,750 shp.
Rolls Royce “Nene” Mark 1
The “Nene” was based upon, but a significant improvement over, Frank Whittle’s pioneering turbojet. It was first run in late 1944 and soon showed a x 2.5 improvement in thrust over the “Derwent” and slightly less diameter. Thrust of the “Nene 1” was 5,000 lb.s.t., and it was (briefly) the most powerful engine in the world.
The British used relatively few “Nenes”. It was more popular abroad, including the Soviet Union, where a variant powered the MIG-15, and in China. The most significant Canadian application was the Canadair licenced version of the Lockheed T-33. In addition to our display “Nene 1” we have another installed within our T-33.
Rolls-Royce “Dart 535”
The starboard outer engine of the “Viscount” is usually on display. This “Dart 535” was originally rated at 1,540 ehp. The “Dart” is a very simple turboprop dating from 1946, but it proved to be a very effective engine. A few are still in service seventy years after the type first flew, but not on the “Viscount”!