THE VEE TYPE
An offshoot from the vertical type, doubling the power of this with only a very slight if any increase in the length of crankshaft, the Vee or diagonal type of aero engine leaped to success through the insistent demand for greater power. Although the design came after that of the vertical engine, by 1910, according to Critchley's list of aero engines, there were more Vee type engines being made than any other type, twenty-five sizes being given in the list, with an average rating of 57.4 brake horse-power.
The arrangement of the cylinders in Vee form over the crankshaft, enabling the pistons of each pair of opposite cylinders to act upon the same crank pin, permits of a very short, compact engine being built, and also permits of reduction of the weight per horsepower, comparing this with that of the vertical type of engine, with one row of cylinders. Further, at the introduction of this type of engine it was seen that crankshaft vibration, an evil of the early vertical engines, was practically eliminated, as was the want of longitudinal stiffness that characterised the higher-powered vertical engines.
Of the Vee type engines shown in Critchley's list in 1910 nineteen different sizes were constructed with eight cylinders, and with horse-powers ranging from thirty to just over the hundred; the lightest of these weighed 2.9 lbs. Per horse power a considerable advance in design on the average vertical engine, in this respect of weight per horse-power.
There were also two sixteen-cylinder engines of Vee design, the larger of which developed 134 horse-power with a weight of only 2 lbs. per brake horse-power. Subsequent developments have indicated that this type, with the further development from it of the double-Vee, or engine with three rows of cylinders, is likely to become the standard design of aero engine where high powers are required. The construction permits of placing every part so that it is easy of access, and the form of the engine implies very little head resistance, while it can be placed on the machine supposing that machine to be of the single engine type in such a way that the view of the pilot is very little obstructed while in flight.
An even torque, or great uniformity of rotation, is transmitted to the air-screw by these engines, while the design also permits of such good balance of the engine itself that vibration is practically eliminated. The angle between the two rows of cylinders is varied according to the number of cylinders, in order to give working impulses at equal angles of rotation and thus provide even torque; this angle is determined by dividing the number of degrees in a circle by the number of cylinders in either row of the engine. In an eight-cylindered Vee type engine, the angle between the cylinders is 90 degrees; if it is a twelve-cylindered engine, the angle drops to 60 degrees.
One of the earliest of the British-built Vee type engines was an eight cylinder 50 horse-power by the Wolseley Company, constructed in 1908 with a cylinder bore of 3.75 inches and stroke of 5 inches, running at a normal speed of 1,350 revolutions per minute. With this engine, a gearing was introduced to enable the propeller to run at a lower speed than that of the engine, the slight loss of efficiency caused by the friction of the gearing being compensated by the slower speed of the air-screw, which had higher efficiency than would have been the case if it had been run at the engine speed. The ratio of the gearing that is, the speed of the air screw relatively to that of the engine, could be chosen so as to suit exactly the requirements of the air-screw, and the gearing itself, on this engine, was accomplished on the half-speed shaft actuating the valves.
Very soon after this first design had been tried out, a second Vee type engine was produced which, at 1,200 revolutions per minute, developed 60 horse-power; the size of this engine was practically identical with that of its forerunner, the only exception being an increase of half an inch in the cylinder stroke a very long stroke of piston in relation to the bore of the cylinder. In the first of these two engines, which was designed for airship propulsion, the weight had been about 8 lbs. per brake horse-power, no special attempt appearing to have been made to fine down for extreme lightness; in this 60 horse power design, the weight was reduced to 6.1 lbs. Per horse-power, counting the latter as normally rated; the engine actually gave a maximum of 75 brake horse-power, reducing the ratio of weight to power very considerably below the figure given.
The accompanying diagram illustrates a later Wolseley model, end elevation, the eight cylindered 120 horse power Vee type aero engine of the early war period. With this engine, each crank pin has two connecting rods bearing on it, these being placed side by side and connected to the pistons of opposite cylinders and the two cylinders of the pair are staggered by an amount equal to the width of the connecting rod bearing, to afford accommodation for the rods. The crankshaft was a nickel chrome steel forging, machined hollow, with four crank pins set at 180 degrees to each other, and carried in three bearings lined with anti friction metal. The connecting rods were made of tubular nickel chrome steel, and the pistons of drawn steel, each being fitted with four piston rings. Of these the two rings nearest to the piston head were of the ordinary cast iron type, while the others were of phosphor bronze, so arranged as to take the side thrust of the piston. The cylinders were of steel, arranged in two groups or rows of four, the angular distance between them being 90 degrees. In the space above the crankshaft, between the cylinder rows, was placed the valve operating mechanism, together with the carburettor and ignition system, thus rendering this a very compact and accessible engine. The combustion heads of the cylinders were made of cast-iron, screwed into the steel cylinder barrels; the water-jacket was of spun aluminium, with one end fitting over the combustion head and the other free to slide on the cylinder; the water-joint at the lower end was made tight by a Dermatine ring carried between small flanges formed on the cylinder barrel. Overhead valves were adopted, and in order to make these as large as possible the combustion chamber was made slightly larger in diameter than the cylinder, and the valves set at an angle. Dual ignition was fitted in each cylinder, coil and accumulator being used for starting and as a reserve in case of failure of the high-tension magneto system fitted for normal running. There was a double set of lubricating pumps, ensuring continuity of the oil supply to all the bearings of the engine.
The feature most noteworthy in connection with the running of this type of engine was its flexibility; the normal output of power was obtained with 1,150 revolutions per minute of the crankshaft, but, by accelerating up to 1,400 revolutions, a maximum of 147 brake horse-power could be obtained. The weight was about 5 lbs. per horse-power, the cylinder dimensions being 5 inches bore by 7 inches stroke. Economy in running was obtained, the fuel consumption being 0.58 pint per brake horse-power per hour at full load, with an expenditure of about 0.075 pint of lubricating oil per brake horse-power per hour.
Another Wolseley Vee type that was standardised was a 90 horse-power eight-cylinder engine running at 1,800 revolutions per minute, with a reducing gear introduced by fitting the air screw on the half-speed shaft. First made semi cooled the exhaust valve was left air-cooled, and then entirely water jacketed this engine demonstrated the advantage of full water cooling, for under the latter condition the same power was developed with cylinders a quarter of an inch less in diameter than in the semi-cooled pattern; at the same time the weight was brought down to 4 1/2 lbs. per horsepower.
A different but equally efficient type of Vee design was the Dorman engine, of which an end elevation is shown; this developed 80 brake horse-power at a speed of 1,300 revolutions per minute, with a cylinder bore of 5 inches; each cylinder was made in cast-iron in one piece with the combustion chamber, the barrel only being water jacketed. Auxiliary exhaust ports were adopted, the holes through the cylinder wall being uncovered by the piston at the bottom of its stroke the piston, 4.75 inches in length, was longer than its stroke, so that these ports were covered when it was at the top of the cylinder. The exhaust discharged through the ports into a belt surrounding the cylinder, the belts on the cylinders being connected so that the exhaust gases were taken through a single pipe. The air was drawn through the crank case, before reaching the carburettor, this having the effect of cooling the oil in the crank case as well as warming the air and thus assisting in vaporising the petrol for each charge of the cylinders. The inlet and exhaust valves were of the overhead type, as may be gathered from the diagram, and in spite of cast iron cylinders being employed a light design was obtained, the total weight with radiator, piping, and water being only 5.5 lbs. per horse power.
Here was the antithesis of the Wolseley type in the matter of bore in relation to stroke; from about 1907 up to the beginning of the war, and even later, there was controversy as to which type that in which the bore exceeded the stroke, or vice versa gave greater efficiency. The short stroke enthusiasts pointed to the high piston speed of the long-stroke type, while those who favoured the latter design contended that full power could not be obtained from each explosion in the short-stroke type of cylinder. It is now generally conceded that the long-stroke engine yields higher efficiency, and in addition to this, so far as car engines are concerned, the method of rating horse power in relation to bore without taking stroke into account has given the long-stroke engine an advantage, actual horse power with a long stroke engine being in excess of the nominal rating. This may have had some influence on aero engine design, but, however this may have been, the long-stroke engine has gradually come to favour, and its rival has taken second place.
For some time pride of place among British Vee type engines was held by the Sunbeam Company, which, owing to the genius of Louis Coatalen, together with the very high standard of construction maintained by the firm, achieved records and fame in the middle and later periods of the war. Their 225 horse power twelve cylinder engine ran at a normal speed of 2,000 revolutions per minute; the air screw was driven through gearing at half this speed, its shaft being separate from the timing gear and carried in ball-bearings on the nose piece of the engine. The cylinders were of cast-iron, entirely water cooled; a thin casing formed
the water jacket, and a very light design was obtained, the weight being only 3.2 lbs. per horse-power. The first engine of Sunbeam design had eight cylinders and developed 150 horse-power at 2,000 revolutions per minute; the final type of Vee design produced during the war was twelve-cylindered, and yielded 310 horse-power with cylinders 4.3 inches bore by 6.4 inches stroke. Evidence in favour of the long-stroke engine is afforded in this type as regards economy of working; under full load, working at 2,000 revolutions per minute, the consumption was 0.55 pints of fuel per brake horse-power per hour, which seems to indicate that the long stroke permitted of full use being made of the power resulting from each explosion, in spite of the high rate of speed of the piston.
Developing from the Vee type, the eighteen-cylinder 475 brake horse power engine, designed during the war, represented for a time the limit of power obtainable from a single plant. It was water-cooled throughout, and the ignition to each cylinder was duplicated; this engine proved fully efficient, and economical in fuel consumption. It was largely used for seaplane work, where reliability was fully as necessary as high power.
The abnormal needs of the war period brought many British firms into the ranks of Vee type engine builders, and, apart from those mentioned, the most notable types produced are the Rolls Royce and the Napier. The first mentioned of these firms, previous to 1914 had concentrated entirely on car engines, and their very high standard of production in this department of internal combustion engine work led, once they took up the making of aero engines, to extreme efficiency both of design and workmanship. The first experimental aero engine, of what became known as the 'Eagle' type, was of Vee design it was completed in March of 1915 and was so successful that it was standardized for quantity production. How far the original was from the perfection subsequently ascertained is shown by the steady increase in developed horse-power of the type; originally designed to develop 200 horse-power, it was developed and improved before its first practical trial in October of 1915, when it developed 255 horsepower on a brake test. Research and experiment produced still further improvements, for, without any enlargement of the dimensions, or radical alteration in design, the power of the engine was brought up to 266 horse power by March of 1916, the rate of revolutions of 1,800 per minute being maintained throughout. July, 1916 gave 284 horse power; by the cud of the year this had been increased to 322 horse power; by September of 1917 the increase was to 350 horse power, and by February of 1918 then 'Eagle' type of engine was rated at 360 horse-power, at which standard it stayed. But there is no more remarkable development in engine design than this, a 75 per cent increase of power in the same engine in a period of less than three years.
To meet the demand for a smaller type of engine for use on training machines, the Rolls-Royce firm produced the 'Hawk' Vee type engine of 100 horsepower, and, intermediately between this and the 'Eagle,' the 'Falcon' engine came to being with an original rated horse-power of 205 at 1,800 revolutions per minute, in April of 1916. Here was another case of growth of power in the same engine through research, almost similar to that of the 'Eagle' type, for by July of 1918 the 'Falcon' was developing 285 horse-power with no radical alteration of design. Finally, in response to the constant demand for increase of power in a single plant, the Rolls-Royce company designed and produced the 'Condor' type of engine, which yielded 600 horse-power on its first test in August of 1918. The cessation of hostilities and consequent falling off in the demand for extremely high-powered plants prevented the 'Condor' being developed to its limit, as had been the 'Falcon' and 'Eagle' types.
The 'Eagle 'engine was fitted to the two Handley Page aeroplanes which made flights from England to India it was virtually standard on the Handley-Page bombers of the later War period, though to a certain extent the American 'Liberty' engine was also used. Its chief record, however, is that of being the type fitted to the Vickers-Vimy aeroplane which made the first Atlantic flight, covering the distance of 1,880 miles at a speed averaging 117 miles an hour.
The Napier Company specialised on one type of engine from the outset, a power plant which became known as the 'Lion' engine, giving 450 horse power with twelve cylinders arranged in three rows of four each. Considering the engine as 'dry,' or without fuel and accessories, an abnormally light weight per horse power only 1.89 lbs. was attained when running at the normal rate of revolution. The cylinders and water jackets are of steel, and there is fitted a detachable aluminium cylinder head containing inlet and exhaust valves and valve actuating mechanism; pistons are of aluminium alloy, and there are two inlet and two exhaust valves to each cylinder, the whole of the valve mechanism being enclosed in an oil-tight aluminium case. Connecting rods and crankshaft are of steel, the latter being machined from a solid steel forging and carried in five roller bearings and one plain bearing at the forward end. The front end of the crank-case encloses reduction gear for the propeller shaft, together with the shaft and bearings. There are two
suction and one pressure type oil pumps driven through gears at half engine speed, and two 12 spark magnetos, giving 2 sparks in each cylinder.
The cylinders are set with the central row vertical, and the two side rows at angles of 60 degrees each; cylinder bore is 5 ½ inches, and stroke 5 1/8 inches; the normal rate of revolution is 1,350 per minute, and the reducing gear gives one revolution of the propeller shaft to 1.52 revolutions of crankshaft. Fuel consumption is 0.48lbs. of fuel per brake horse power hour at full load, and oil consumption is 0.020 lbs. per brake horsepower hour. The dry weight of the engine, complete with propeller boss, carburettors, and induction pipes, is 850 lbs., and the gross weight in running order, with fuel and oil for six hours working, is 2,671 lbs., exclusive of cooling water.
To this engine belongs an altitude record of 30,500 feet, made at Martlesham, near Ipswich, on January 2nd, 1919, by Captain Lang, R.A.F., the climb being accomplished in 66 minutes 15 seconds. Previous to this, the altitude record was held by an Italian pilot, who made 25,800 feet in an hour and 57 minutes in 1916. Lang's climb was stopped through the pressure of air, at the altitude he reached, being insufficient for driving the small propellers on the machine which worked the petrol and oil pumps, or he might have made the height said to have been attained by Major Schroeder on February 27th, 1920, at Dayton, Ohio.
Schroeder is said to have reached an altitude of 36,020 feet on a Napier biplane, and, owing to failure of the oxygen supply, to have lost consciousness, fallen five miles, righted his machine when 2,000 feet in the air, and alighted successfully. Major Schroeder is an American.
Turning back a little, and considering other than British design of Vee and double-Vee or 'Broad arrow' type of engine, the Renault firm from the earliest days devoted considerable attention to the development of this type, their air cooled engines having been notable examples from the earliest days of heavier than air machines. In 1910 they were making three sizes of eight cylindered Vee type engines, and by 1915 they had increased to the manufacture of five sizes, ranging from 25 to 100 brake horse-power, the largest of the five sizes having twelve cylinders but still retaining the air cooled principle. The De Dion firm, also, made Vee-type engines in 1914, being represented by an 80 horse power eight cylindered engine, air cooled, and a 150 horse power, also of eight cylinders, water cooled, running at a normal rate of 1,600 revolutions per minute. Another notable example of French construction was the Panhard and Levassor 100 horse-power eight-cylinder Vee engine, developing its rated power at 1,500 revolutions per minute, and having the for that time low weight of 4.4 lbs. Per horse power.
American Vee design has followed the British fairly cclosely; the Curtiss Company produced originally a 75 horse power eight cylinder Vee type running at 1,200 revolutions per minute, supplementing this with a 170 horse power engine running at 1,600 revolutions per minute, and later with a twelve cylinder model Vee type, developing 300 horse power at 1,500 revolutions per minute, with cylinder bore of 5 inches and stroke of 7 inches. An exceptional type of American design was the Kemp Vee engine of 80 horse power in which the cylinders were cooled by a current of air obtained from a fan at the forward end of the engine. With cylinders of 4.25 inches bore and 4.75 inches stroke, the rater power was developed at 1,150 revolutions per minute, and with the engine complete the weight was only 4.75 lbs. per horse-power.