THE 456th FIGHTER INTERCEPTOR SQUADRON

THE PROTECTORS OF  S. A. C.

 

 

The Rolls-Royce Merlin XX Engine

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Most of the upgrades to the Merlin were the result of ever-increasing octane ratings in the aviation fuel available from the US, and ever more efficient supercharger designs. At the start of the war the engine ran on the then-standard 87 octane aviation spirit and could supply just over 1,000 hp (750 kW) from its 27 litre displacement compared to 1,100 hp (820 kW) from the 34 litre Daimler-Benz DB 601.

The next major version was the XX which ran on 100 octane fuel. This allowed it to be run at higher manifold pressures, which was achieved by increasing the "boost" from the supercharger. The result was that the otherwise similar engine delivered 1,300 hp (970 kW). This process continued, with later versions running on ever-increasing octane ratings, delivering ever-increasing power ratings. By the end of the war the "little" engine was delivering over 1,600 hp (1,200 kW) in common versions, and could deliver 2,070 hp (1,544 kW) in the Merlin 130/131 versions used on the de Havilland Hornet.

The engine was considered to be so important to the war effort that blueprints were sent to the US for safekeeping, to be handed over in case of the UK's capitulation. When this was no longer an issue in 1943, the Packard company started production in the US as the V-1650, originally for use in US-built Spitfires. The V-1650 preformed so much better than its US counterpart (the Allison V-1710) that it would eventually replace that engine in the P-51 Mustang, which then went to be viewed as one of the best fighters of the war.

In comparison the Luftwaffe had no similar ability to increase octane ratings, and had to continually introduce larger and larger engines to keep up. The result was that their planes had considerably worse power-to-weight ratios than the Merlin powered planes they faced, and the continual complete change in engines designs meant they never had enough to go around. The lack of engines was one of the major problems for the Luftwaffe, from the mid 1930s right until the end of the war.

An un-supercharged version of the Merlin was also produced for use in tanks, the Rolls-Royce Meteor.

Although it is not commonly known, Packard's contribution greatly improved the maintainability. Their changes were also incorporated in subsequent British production.

The Rolls-Royce Packard "Merlin" Engine"

The Liberty Engine

Merlin-powered Aircraft

Inside The Merlin Engine

One Second in the Life of a Merlin

The "Merlin" Mustang

 

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Last Updated

02/10/2014

 

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