The Rotary Aero Engine from 1908 to 1918

  • Giuseppe Genchi
  • Francesco Sorge
Conference paper
Part of the History of Mechanism and Machine Science book series (HMMS, volume 15)


The rotary aero engine is a special type of air-cooled radial engine, where the cylinders are arranged like the spokes of a wheel and turn around the crankshaft. The propeller is connected to the cylinders, while the crankshaft is fixed to the frame. The rotary aero engine, developed in 1908, set new standards of power and light weight within the aircraft industry. It was adopted by many pioneer aviators and widely used to set records of endurance, speed and height. Many aero engine manufacturers produced different models and variants of this type of engine, which was extensively used until the end of the First World War. The latest evolution of the rotary engine was the counter-rotary arrangement, which was devised and designed by the Siemens-Halske company. The distinctive feature of this type of engine was that the engine body (with cylinders and propeller) rotated in one direction while the crankshaft rotated in the opposite one. This result was obtained by using a bevel gear mechanism. However, rotaries were quickly and definitively replaced in 1918 by new kinds of conventional engine, which were developed in the same period by other manufacturers. The main features of rotary and counter-rotary aero engine and the performance limits that caused their decline will be described in this paper. The rotary engine will be compared with the conventional one in terms of power output, specific consumption, weight and inertia loads transferred to the frame.


Volumetric Efficiency Brake Specific Fuel Consumption Aero Engine Otto Cycle Piston Crown 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Filippi, F.: Dall’elica al getto, Associazione Industriali Metallurgici Affini. Edizioni EDA, Torino (I) (1983)Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Giger, H.: Kolben-Flugmotoren. Motorbuch Verlag, Stuttgart (D) (1986)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Nahum, A.: The rotary aero engine. HMSO Books, London (1987)Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Gunston, B.: Development of piston aero engines. Patrick Stephens Limited, Haynes Publishing, Sparkford (2006)Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Von Gersdorff, K., Schubert, H., Hebert, S.: Flugmotoren und Strahltriebwerke. Bernard und Graefe Verlag, Bonn (D) (2007)Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Biezeno, C.B., Grammel, R.: Engineering Dynamics. Blackie & Sons Lt., London (1954)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Netherlands 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Giuseppe Genchi
    • 1
  • Francesco Sorge
    • 1
  1. 1.Dipartimento di Ingegneria Chimica, Gestionale, InformaticaMeccanica – Università degli Studi di PalermoPalermoItaly

Personalised recommendations