This month is devoted to engine technology. In our museum we have three engines from different times and aircraft. Two are piston engines of differing design and one is a jet engine.
There are two types of engine, piston and jet. In these two categories there are sub types. For example, the piston engines have four sub types, inline, V-types and rotary and radial engines.
The inline engines have the Pistons in a straight line, front to back. These became a problem because the easiest way to get more power was to add extra Pistons. This meant the engines would be long and take up more space and weigh more.
The solution to this was to make the Pistons into a v-type layout. In your car, you may have a v-8 engine. In the famous Spitfire fighter of the Second World War, she was powered by a V-12. That meant the cylinders were in two opposing banks of six each.
There were two other types of internal combustion engine and they were rotary and radial engines. The piston layout is basically the same, the Pistons are layed out in a circle. It’s the way they applied the spin to the propeller that was different.
The rotary engine spins as one with the propeller. This engine was used in the First World War and powered the famous sopwith camel aircraft.
The radial engine on the other hand has pistons in a circle but they drive the propeller shaft. This means the engine stays stationary and just the propeller spins.
The radial engine proved to be extremely tough bringing pilots back after whole Pistons had been blown off. This was partly due to the fact that radial engines were air cooled. In WW2, there was a greater number of inline engined fighters in Europe, whereas in the Pacific theatre, it was the radial engine that was favoured.
Experimentation with the jet engine began in 1933 in England. They produced the first turbojet in 1939. Germany however, was way ahead of the allies in jet engine design. Germany was the First Nation to have an operational jet fighter, that being the famous ME262.
England soon followed with the Meteor. These two example have in themselves a fundamental design difference in their engines. The 262 had an axial flow engine, which was thinner,more tube like. The meteor had a centrifugal engine. This was a shorter engine but very fat at its middle.
Development of the jet engine has continued ever since, getting us higher, faster, quieter and using less fuel than ever before.
Come in and see the very beginnings here at the Comox Air Force Museum.