II. 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.