View Full Version : The Merlin: The engine that saved the free world?
8th Aug 2012, 16:41
Good write up on the Rolls Royce Merlin from the Beeb
BBC News - The Merlin: The engine that saved the free world? (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-derbyshire-18781750)
8th Aug 2012, 22:21
Sorry - but this is over the top.
It's 'clap-trap' and crowd pleasing but it misses the point.
It was the people who designed the engine.
It was the people who built the engine.
It was the people who flew the aircraft.
It was the people who maintained the engine on the ground.
A fine engine .. although my father always reminded us that it was a Merlin that nearly killed them on 2nd Jan 1945 when it failed on take off. A Mosquito that has 716 gallons of fuel and a full armament load and one engine on fire, is not the place to be!
They survived because a farmer and two of his men pulled them from the wreck, at significant danger to their own lives. Later, the three men were given the BEM.
In this article, the author (that is getting lots of free publicity) says: "It was, of course, the Merlin that powered the planes of the Dambusters Raid in May 1943, the greatest single RAF exploit of the war and one that symbolised Britain's heroic fightback against Germany."
It has long been established that the dams raid was more psychological in it's impact than much else. Trying to identify the 'greatest single' anything is usually futile. In a war it all counts and the men who operated alone and in the thousand bomber raids (with their night fighter support) and long, lonely patrols over the North Atlantic, also made single, great efforts every time they took off. Yes, the dams WAS a vital raid but, please, let it go.
Yes, the Merlin was a remarkable engine but I think the BBC (and other British media types) should not be using phrases like, "... the Rolls-Royce Merlin, may have been the difference between freedom and tyranny." (my emphasis) It was then and my German friend thinks we are stupid to still trumpet this - whilst our country slides down the economic table. It belittles us to live in the past but Britain just can't seem to stop it.
Lastly, for the BBC to publicise this now - when so many more people are looking at their main website? :ugh:
For the record, my father lost his parents to a V2 and lost much more in his 106 operations over enemy territory in night fighters and was decorated DFC ** so he had some reasons for hating the Germans - but he didn't. To his dying day, he disliked the tup thumping (such as this article) and I write this post with him in my heart.
Over the top. A bit like the post above..?
'It has long been established that the dams raid was more psychological in it's impact than much else.' Actually, it's long been established that this debunking is the real rubbish. Do keep up, there's a good fellow.
10th Aug 2012, 00:53
Well I totally agree with the sentiments expressed by PAXboy.
Mike Evans, who founded the Rolls-Royce Heritage Trust, believes the engine turned the tide of war.
It no doubt helped, but one engine type changed the tide of the war???
10th Aug 2012, 08:08
It has long been established that the dams raid was more psychological in it's impact than much else.
Even if that were true (which it isn't), it's an outcome whose importance shouldn't be underestimated.
It's the people thing again ...
10th Aug 2012, 08:20
but one engine type changed the tide of the war???
My vote is for the R-2800.
10th Aug 2012, 09:37
My vote is for the R-2800
Fair shout if it had been in combat service for the duration of the war. It was certainly a good, powerful and well designed engine, just arrived 2 years after the Merlin had been the combat workhorse of Fighter Command and was moving in to cover nearly all the needs of BC too.
10th Aug 2012, 11:52
The Merlin may have stemmed the tide but the R-3350 went a long way to finally stopping the tide!
10th Aug 2012, 21:31
By the way, if you Brits want to see how parochial you're being--or, yes, how parochial we Yanks are being--you should go to WIX and take a look at how this exact same thread is being treated.
10th Aug 2012, 22:00
11th Aug 2012, 02:40
It has long been established that the dams raid was more psychological in it's impact than much else. Even if that were true (which it isn't), it's an outcome whose importance shouldn't be underestimated.
But it is true.
The Dambusters (http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/dambusters.htm)
Extract from the above link.
How successful was the raid?
Severe flooding occurred where the Möhne Dam was breached. 1,200 people were killed including nearly 600 forced labourers from Eastern Europe who were housed in a labour camp near Neheim. Six small electricity works were damaged and rail lines passing through the Möhne Valley were disrupted. But industrial production was not affected in the long-term. When the Eder Dam broke, there were similar results. Kassel, an important arms producing town, was reached by the floodwater, but little actual damage was done. Had the Sorpe Dam been breached, then the damage would have been much greater. The potential for a major disaster was recognised by Albert Speer who commented that:
"Ruhr production would have suffered the heaviest possible blow."
In the short and long term, the damage done by 617 squadron was repaired quite quickly. But the most important impact of the raid was that 20,000 men working on the Atlantic Wall had been moved to the Ruhr to carry out repairs to the damaged and breached dams. This work was completed before the rains of the autumn appeared.
11th Aug 2012, 05:02
Really over the top and hideously superficial article. Doesn't say why the Merlin was so important beyond the fact of its development, which probably happened with many other engines too.
Was it the power to weight ratio? The low volume compared to other engines? Power available at a certain height? Low consumption? Why did it work so well compared to the Alison in the Mustang?
Installing the Merlin in the Mustang was Ronnie Harker's idea and he was a Rolls Royce test pilot.
I guess the article wasn't aimed at an aviation audience.
11th Aug 2012, 12:50
The impact of the Dams raid (I've read all the books) was greater on the British and the Americans. It certainly helped the Americans to see that we could do smart things. But, in all that I have read, the damage was not as great as hoped and was repaired more quickly.
All strength to the men and women who made this happen, from Wallis all the way to the last WAAF driver and admin clerk. Those who died did a remarkable thing. It had to be done.
The war was made by humans and won by humans. The world is a better place for the winning of it. Ther Merlin was a fabulous invention.
Now we are in the 21st century and we should remember these things quietly and not broadcast to the rest of the world that we have lost the peace.
11th Aug 2012, 22:41
The engine that saved the free world?In 1970 in Primary School rural NSW, my teacher would daily recite his war experiences from New Guinea and North Africa. Single-handedly he killed Japs and Krauts in the thousands, so I always thought he was The Man that saved the free world.
His name was Norman Gilchrist - yet history seems to have forgotten him?
13th Aug 2012, 00:56
Warbird Information Exchange, one of the major U. S. fora.
13th Aug 2012, 03:37
Thanks stepwilk, an interesting thread to read.
13th Aug 2012, 12:56
We had one on show at the RR/Bentley factory at Crewe, for visitors to view. When the factory was bought out by first BMW, and later VW. It was hidden away:rolleyes:
I once read that' although there were multiple locations where Merlin engines were assembled, there was only one machine capable of turning out the crankshafts for them, and ironically it was of German manufacture.
Anyone know if this is correct ?
13th Aug 2012, 13:35
I used to own a Merlin and a Griffon( or two) and being from a warlike family and having rels in the 617 SQdn I decide to mount these two in my office, being a northerner and really not being a pusscat I never gave it a thought untill my German Customers came to see me.. to talk over business.
Do people in German never collect MB600's and display them, for these two people were absolutely amazed and asked my secretary many questions whilst waiting for me, because I was in transport they thought the engines were Rolls Royce Truck engines, only upon hearing the names of the Engine, did they suddenly want to sort out the business of the transport and get back to Manchester Airport , to which I said that used to train parachutists for the Army, they quickly told me they were not born then , so thats it, thats why the Jerries never seem to discuss the 1939 to 1945 era.
Good that..! it never happened to that generation of Germans,
Zo' ve do not discuss anything like Zat!
I increased my contract with them also!
13th Aug 2012, 15:12
There is a Rolls Royce car dealership at Great Easton on the road between Great Dunmow and Thaxted and in pride of place in front of the cars is a very highly cleaned and polished Merlin,its been there for many years.
13th Aug 2012, 16:26
I once read that' although there were multiple locations where Merlin engines were assembled, there was only one machine capable of turning out the crankshafts for them
I would assume that Packard made its own cranks.
13th Aug 2012, 18:38
I have read and heard that the Packard built engines, built to mass production automobile standards, was easier to assemble and more reliable then the Rolls version. Apparantly the tolerances were much more precise so that it just went together like a jig saw puzzle rather than hours with a file.
I found this working on American and British car engines in a past life. The American components came off the shelf and went straight in; with a British engine you had to look for over/under tolerance stamps on the block to check the fitting.
14th Aug 2012, 03:13
Forgive a touch of corporate history but I flew 3000 hours over five years on Lincolns equipped with mainly Rolls Royce Merlin 102 and the occasional RR Merlin 85. . Practically all of these hours were in the tropics of Northen Australia.
In that time I had somewhere around 32 engines failures including several total failures caused by "blow-backs" on take off. The reminder were deliberate feathering of props due to glycol coolant overheating. Other Lincoln pilots had occasional engine failures but I have no record of these. Some of the engine failures in the squadron were due to incorrect engine handling put down to cruising at low RPM and high boost outside the manufacturers recommendations.
Obviously in those days engines were not reliable as todays turbo-jets.
The R2800 was mentioned in earlier posts. I did about 1400 hours on the Convair 440 with P&W R2800 engines. I experienced around three total failures all in the cruise, one runway prop on take off and several un-commanded autofeatherings. Now compare that little lot with over 8000 hours on various versions of the 737 and only one engine shut-down and that was precautionary due to loss of oil tank contents.
India Four Two
14th Aug 2012, 07:07
I have read and heard that the Packard built engines, built to mass production automobile standards, was easier to assemble and more reliable then the Rolls version.
There is an interesting anecdote in Stanley Hooker's autobiography "Not Much of an Engineer", about Packard engineers telling Rolls Royce engineers that their drawings were not precise enough. :E
14th Aug 2012, 09:39
UK Rearmament relied extensively on Krupp and other German machine tools; there is a story of some for Castle Bromwich Spitfire factory being hustled by Brits through a German dockyard on 2 September,1939.
1 machine-shop (IIRC, in Stoke) turned all UK Merlin crank-shafts to late-41. Quite normal industrial practice: HDA/Redditch made “nearly all (UK’s 1939-45 10Mn.) forged aero-engine pistons” T.Buttler,Secret Projects 35-50,P133. BTH Ltd/Rugby was long UK's sole-source for Magnetos; so in Germany was a Bosch plant. Hence the attraction of "panacea" targets (e.g ball bearings).
The Man “who put power into the Merlin”, Sir S.Hooker,Not Much of an Engineer,Airlife,84, recounts Ford/Trafford Park bringing to him a problem he assumed to involve tolerances beyond auto-skills; but the reverse: they were seeking inter-changeability, requiring precision beyond RR’s practice, but essential to permit affordable cars to be “repeatable” by skills-diluted labour, alien in Aero.
When in 1940 Henry Ford was confused about his best interests and declined to build Merlin in US, UK chose Packard as licencee: they had designed WW1 Liberty, and had built complex engineering products in volumes stellar to RR's experience. Packard received (really, tons) of Derby drawings and redid the lot, not because RR's were in any way bad, but to fit My Way of doing things. (Westland did exactly the same to turn S.51 into Dragonfly, S.55 into Whirlwind. We still do it: BAe.-built Milan ATM cost a mega-more than from Euromissile, for the same My Way reason).
15th Aug 2012, 20:07
Converting an EE Canberra into a Martin B-57 was an even bigger job :ok: