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TGPLANES AVIATION DIRECTORY --
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THE RADIAL TYPE

 

The very first successful design of internal combustion aero engine made was that of Charles Manly, who built a five cylinder radial engine in 1901 for use with Langley's 'aerodrome,' as the latter inventor decided to call what has since become known as the aeroplane. Manly made a number of experiments, and finally decided on radial design, in which the cylinders are so rayed round a central crank-pin that the pistons act successively upon it; by this arrangement a very short and compact engine is obtained, with a minimum of weight, and a regular crankshaft rotation and perfect balance of inertia forces.

 

When Manly designed his radial engine, high-speed internal combustion engines were in their infancy, and the difficulties in construction can be partly realised when the lack of manufacturing methods for this high-class engine work, and the lack of experimental data on the various materials, are taken into account. During its tests, Manly's engine developed 52.4 brake horsepower at a speed of 950 revolutions per minute, with the remarkably low weight of only 2.4 lbs. per horsepower; this latter was increased to 3.6 lbs. when the engine was completed by the addition of ignition system, radiator, petrol tank, and all accessories, together with the cooling water for the cylinders.

 

In Manly's engine, the cylinders were of steel, machined outside and inside to 1/16 of an inch thickness; on the side of cylinder, at the top end, the valve chamber was brazed, being machined from a solid forging, the casing which formed the water jacket was of sheet steel, 1/50 of an inch in thickness, and this also was brazed on the cylinder and to the valve chamber. Automatic inlet valves were fitted, and the exhaust valves were operated by a cam, which had two points, 180 degrees apart; the cam was rotated in the opposite direction to the engine at one-quarter-engine speed. Ignition was obtained by using a one spark coil and vibrator for all cylinders, with a distributor to select the right cylinder for each spark this was before the days of the high-tension magneto and the almost perfect ignition systems that makers now employ. The scheme of ignition for this engine was originated by Manly himself, and he also designed the sparking plugs fitted in the tops of the cylinders. Through fear of trouble resulting if the steel pistons worked on the steel cylinders, cast iron liners were introduced in the latter, 1/16 of an inch thick.

 

The connecting rods of this engine were of virtually the same type as is employed on nearly all-modern radial engines. The rod for one cylinder had a bearing along the whole of the crank pin, and its end enclosed the pin; the other four rods had bearings upon the end of the first rod, and did not touch the crank pin. The accompanying diagram shows this construction; together with the means employed for securing the ends of the four rods, the collars were placed in position after the rods had been put on. The bearings of these rods did not receive any of the rubbing effect due to the rotation of the crank pin, the rubbing on them being only that of the small angular displacement of the rods during each revolution; thus, there was no difficulty experienced with the lubrication.

 

Another early example of the radial type of engine was the French Anzani, of which type one was fitted to the machine with which Bleriot first crossed the English Channel this was of 25-horse power. The earliest Anzani engines were of the three cylinder fan type, one cylinder being vertical, and the other two placed at an angle of 72 degrees on each side, as the possibility of over-lubrication of the bottom cylinders was feared if a regular radial construction were adopted. In order to overcome the unequal balance of this type, balance weights were fitted inside the crankcase.

 

The final development of this three-cylinder radial was the 'Y' type of engine, in which the cylinders were regularly disposed at 120 degrees apart, the bore was 4.1, stroke 4.7 inches, and the power developed was 30-brake horsepower at 1,300 revolutions per minute.

 

Critchley's list of aero engines being constructed in 1910 shows twelve of the radial type, with powers of between 14 and 100 horse-power, and with from three to ten cylinder this last is probably the greatest number of cylinders that can be successfully arranged in circular form. Of the twelve types of 1910, only two were water cooled, and it is to be noted that these two ran at the slowest speeds and had the lowest weight per horse power of any.

 

The Anzani radial was considerably developed special attention being paid to this type by its makers and by 1914, the Anzani list comprised seven different sizes of air-cooled radials. Of these, the largest had twenty cylinders, developing 200-brake horsepower, it was virtually a double radial, and the smallest was the original 30-horse power three cylinder design. A six cylinder model was formed by a combination of two groups of three cylinders each, acting upon a double throw crankshaft; the two crank pins were set at 180 degrees to each other, and the cylinder groups were staggered by an amount equal to the distance between the centres of the crank pins. Ten cylinder radial engines are made with two groups of five cylinders acting upon two crank pins set at 180 degrees to each other, the largest Anzani 'ten' developed 125 horsepower at 1,200 revolutions per minute, the ten cylinders being each 4.5 inches in bore with stroke of 5.9 inches, and the weight of the engine being 3.7 lbs. per horse-power. In the 200-horse power Anzani radial, the cylinders are arranged in four groups of five each, acting on two crank pins. The bore of the cylinders in this engine is the same as in the three-cylinder, but the stroke is increased to 5.5 inches. The rated power is developed at 1,300 revolutions per minute, and the engine complete weighs 3.4 lbs. per horsepower.

 

With this 200 horsepower Anzani, a petrol consumption of as low as 0.49 lbs. of fuel per brake horsepower per hour has been obtained, but the consumption of lubricating oil is compensatingly high, being up to one fifth of the fuel used. The cylinders are set desaxe with the crankshaft, and are of cast iron, provided with radiating ribs for air-cooling; they are attached to the crankcase by long bolts passing through bosses at the top of the cylinders, and connected to other bolts at right angles through the crankcase. The tops of the cylinders are formed flat, and seats for the inlet and exhaust valves are formed on them. The pistons are cast-iron, fitted with ordinary cast iron spring rings. An aluminium crankcase is used, being made in two halves connected together by bolts, which latter also attach the engine to the frame of the machine. The crankshaft is of nickel steel, made hollow, and mounted on ball bearings in such a manner that practically a combination of ball and plain bearings is obtained; the central web of the shaft is bent to bring the centres of the crank pins as close together as possible, leaving only room for the connecting rods, and the pins are 180 degrees apart. Nickel steel valves of the cone seated, poppet type are fitted, the inlet valves being automatic, and those for the exhaust cam operated by means of push rods. With an engine, having such a number of cylinders a very uniform rotation of the crankshaft is obtained, and in actual running, there are always five of the cylinders giving impulses to the crankshaft at the same time.

 

An interesting type of pioneer radial engine was the Farcot, in which the cylinders were arranged in a horizontal plane, with a vertical crankshaft, which operated the airscrew through bevel gearing. This was an eight-cylinder engine, developing 64-horse power at 1,200 revolutions per minute. The R.E.P. type, in the early days, was a 'fan' engine, but the designer, M. Robert Pelterie, turned from this design to a seven-cylinder radial, which at 1,100 revolutions per minute gave 95 horse-power.

 

Several makers entered into radial engine development in the years immediately preceding the War, and in 1914 there were some twenty-two different sizes and types, ranging from 30 to 600 horse power, being made, according to report; the actual construction of the latter size at this time, however, is doubtful.

 

Probably the best example of radial construction up to the outbreak of War was the Salmson (Canton-Unne) water-cooled, of which in 1914 six sizes were listed as available. Of these, the smallest was a seven-cylinder 90-horse power engine, and the largest, rated at 600 horsepower, had eighteen cylinders.

 

The Dudbridge Ironworks in Great Britain made these engines, during the War, under license. The accompanying diagram shows the construction of the cylinders in the 200-horse power size, showing the method of cooling, and the arrangement of the connecting rods. A patent planetary gear, also shown in the diagram, gives exactly the same stroke to all the pistons. The complete engine has fourteen cylinders, of forged steel machined all over, and so secured to the crankcase that any one can be removed without parting the crankcase. The water-jackets are of spun copper, brazed on to the cylinder, and corrugated so as to admit of free expansion; the water is circulated by means of a centrifugal pump. The pistons are of cast iron, each fitted with three rings, and the connecting rods are of high-grade steel, machined all over and fitted with bushes of phosphor bronze; these rods are connected to a central collar, carried on the crank pin by two ball bearings. The crankshaft has a single throw, and is made in two parts to allow the cage for carrying the big endpins of the connecting rods to be placed in position. 

 

The casing is in two parts, on one of which the brackets for fixing the engine are carried, while the other part carries the valve gear. Bolts secure the two parts together. The mechanically operated steel valves on the cylinders are each fitted with double springs and rods and levers operate the valves. Two Zenith carburetors are fitted on the rear half of the crankcase, and short induction pipes are led to each cylinder; the exhaust gases heat each of the carburetors. Ignition is by two high-tension magnetos, and a compressed air self-starting arrangement is provided. Two oil pumps are fitted for lubricating purposes, one of which forces oil to the crankshaft and connecting-rod bearings, while the second forces oil to the valve gear, the cylinders being so arranged that the oil which flows along the walls cannot flood the lower cylinders. This engine operates upon a six-stroke cycle, a rather rare arrangement for internal combustion engines of the electrical ignition type; this is done in order to obtain equal angular intervals for the working impulses imparted to the rotating crankshaft, as the cylinders are arranged in groups of seven, and all act upon the one crankshaft. The angle, therefore, between the impulses is 77 1/7 degrees. A diagram is inset giving a side view of the engine, in order to show the grouping of the cylinders.

 

The 600 horse power Salmson engine was designed with a view to fitting to airships, and was in reality two nine cylindered engines, with a gear-box connecting them; double air screws were fitted, and these were so arranged that either or both of them might be driven by either or both engines; in addition to this, the two engines were complete and separate engines as regards carburetion and ignition, etc., so that they could be run independently of each other. The cylinders were exceptionally 'long stroke,' being 5.9 inches bore to 8.27 inches stroke, and the rated power was developed at 1,200 revolutions per minute, the weight of the complete engine being only 4.1 lbs. Per Horse power at the normal rating. 

 

A type of engine specially devised for airship propulsion is that in which the cylinders are arranged horizontally instead of vertically, the main advantages of this form being the reduction of head resistance and less obstruction to the view of the pilot. A casing, mounted on the top of the engine, supports the airscrew, which is driven through bevel gearing from the upper end of the crankshaft. With this type of engine, a better rate of airscrew efficiency is obtained by gearing the screw down to half the rate of revolution of the engine, this giving a more even torque. The petrol consumption of the type is very low, being only 0.48 lbs. per horse-power per hour, and equal economy is claimed as regards lubricating oil, a consumption of as little as 0.04 lbs. per horse-power per hour being claimed.

 

Certain American radial engines were made before 1914, the principal being the Albatross six-cylinder engines of 50 and 100 horsepowers. Of these the smaller size was air-cooled, with cylinders of 4.5 inches bore and 5 inches stroke, developing the rated power at 1,230 revolutions per minute, with a weight of about 5 lbs. per horse-power. The 100 horsepower size had cylinders of 5.5 inches bore, developing its rated power at 1,230 revolutions per minute, and weighing only 2.75 lbs. Per horse power. This engine was markedly similar to the six cylindered Anzani, having all the valves mechanically operated, and with auxiliary exhaust ports at the bottoms of the cylinders, overrun by long pistons. These Albatross engines had their cylinders arranged in two groups of three, with each group of three pistons operating on one of two crank pins, each 180 degrees apart.

 

The radial type of engine, thanks to Charles Manly, had the honor of being first in the field as regards aero work. Its many advantages, among which may be specially noted the very short crankshaft as compared with vertical, Vee, or 'broad arrow' type of engine, and consequent greater rigidity, ensure it consideration by designers of to day, and render it certain that the type will endure. Enthusiasts claim that the 'broad arrow' type, or Vee with a third row of cylinders inset between the original two, is just as much a development from the radial engine as from the vertical and resulting Vee; however this may be, there is a place for the radial type in air work for as long as the internal combustion engine remains as a power plant.

 

 
 
Section 1
The Period of Legend | Early Experiments | Sir George-Thomas | The Middle 19 Century | Wenham Bris & Others | The Age of Giants | Lili & Pilcher | American Gliding Experiments | Not Proven | Samuel Langley | The Wright Brothers | First Year of Conquest | First Flier in England | Rhems and After | The Channel Crossing | London to Manchester | Summary to 1911 | Summa to 1914 | The War Period-I | The War Period-II | Reconstruction | 1919-1920

 

 
Section 2
The Beginnings | Multiplicity of Ideas | Progress on Standardized Lines | The War Period
 

 
Section 3
The Beginning | The First Dirigibles | Santos Dumont | The Military Dirigible | British Airship Design | The Airship Commercially | Kite Balloons
 

 
Section4
The Vertical Type | The Vee Type | The Radial Type | The Rotatory Type | The Horizontal Opposed Engine | The Two Stroke Cycle Engine | Engines of the War Period
 
 
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