Re: Rotary engines

Guy Fawcett (
Wed, 07 Dec 1994 08:56:02 -0600 (MDT)

The rotary engine was developed as a light weight alternative to the water
cooled automobile engines then in use. By spining the motor it was possible
to air cool a high horse power engine and prevent engine failure due to poor
iginition timing ( the fly wheel action would carry the motor over rough spots
and the cooling would allow higher combustion temperatures).
Although the conventional radial engine as we know it today was in
development, because of over heating and pre-detonation it was notoriously
unreliable and wasn't really prefected until the 1920's. The simple turth of
the matter was, despite all it's short commings the the rotary was the most
compact, highest power to weight ratio aero engine availble for the major part
of WWI. Advances in motor consrtuction would allow the development of more
powerful liquid cooled inline motors as the war progressed but the rotary was
still lighter and simpler to operate and maintain in the field.
And like its later radial bother the air cooled engine was less prone to being
put out of action due to battle damage. The reams of tubing and exposed
raditors meant that water cooled engine just presented more possible places for
the engine to be disabled.

Tally ho