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Book: The Secret Horsepower Race.

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Book: The Secret Horsepower Race.

Old 18th Jul 2022, 19:13
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Book: The Secret Horsepower Race.

This fascinating book details the competition between the rival Western powers and Germany to develop and perfect military aircraft engines in the period roughly 1930 - 1945. I bought it after Doug sang its praises at Arkaroola. The author is an F1 engine designer. Key takeaway: apart from electronics, there is virtually nothing in todays petrol engines that wasn’t invented and tried before WWII.

e.g. Direct petrol injection - invented circa 1933 and used in the Mercedes DB 601 engine of the ME109.

‘’The detail is mesmerizing; for example the RR merlin had not only different main bearings for each journal, but each was a slightly different alloy! They were “thick wall” bearings each cast in a special RR designed quench pot that ensured a preferred columnar directional solidification of the bearing microstructure - a technique that is still used today in turbine blades.. Tony Vanderwells newly invented tri-layer thin wall bearings wouldn’t work in a Merlin because of the relatively large crankcase distortion under load

‘’Then there is Ricardos endless fascination with sleeve valves.

‘’Then there is the huge issue of supercharging. How to get adequate performance out of a merlin or a BMW or a P & W at 42,000 ft?

Then there are the german and American engines - each with their own issues and benefits.

Fuel, spark plugs, oil, materials - all figure in the race for horsepower. It’s all there in detail.

‘’I am now in awe of the engines we use today when you consider their pedigrees.
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Old 18th Jul 2022, 20:09
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I think you've just given me a great idea for someone's birthday
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Old 19th Jul 2022, 21:45
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All tried and true back in the 30's and 40's of last century.

Diesel engines were common place in aircraft. The huge Lycoming XR-7755 Radial was first run in 1944 is a 36 cylinder, 5,000 horsepower beast.
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Old 20th Jul 2022, 03:08
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Thumbs up for the book, Germans couldn't understand why silver bearings were contaminated with lead/indium when examining shot down aircraft, if only they knew.

Last edited by megan; 20th Jul 2022 at 05:35.
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Old 21st Jul 2022, 00:46
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Another good’un.. Not much of an Engineer by Sir Stanley Hooker.
Revised Merlin supercharger impellers to get Spitfires to 45K ft. And a leader in early jet engine techno and thru to the modern age.
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