Best aircraft engine to see widespread use

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Airman 1st Class
Dec 11, 2005
Cupertino, CA
Which engine that saw widespread use throughout the war, or at least most of it, was the most powerful and reliable under extreme combat conditions?
the Pratt and Whitney R-1830 1200 hp which is still in widespread use today C-47 .PBY Catalina Wildcat Buffalo B17 P36 Havoc Vanguard P 43 PBY coronado CA 11 Woomera DAP Beaufort Bolingbroke B24
I think I would vote for the R-2800 as well. The Merlin deserves mention.

Displacement: 45.9 liters/2,800 cubic inches
Weight: 1070 kg/ 2,350 lbs
RPM: 2500
Production: 125,334
Peak horsepower (wartime usage); 2,800 hp

Aircraft powered by: P-47, P-61, F4U, F6F, F8F, F7F, A-26, B-34 (PV Ventura), B-26, TBY-2.


Displacement: 27 litres/1750 cubic inches
Weight: 770 kg/1690 lbs
RPM; 3000
Production: 168,040
Peak horsepower (wartime usage) 2,050 hp.

Aircraft powered by: Spitfire (early marks), Mustang III-IV, Warhawk/Kittyhawk (some models), Hurricane, Lancaster, Defiant, Mosquito, Beaufighter (some marks), Battle, Fulmar, Barracuda, Halifax.
The effective fly time between two complete revisions of the engine can be important. I read that's of 48 hours for R-2800 and 50 hours for DB-605. Someone know what's for Merlin (first versions of which are not so famous for reliability however)?

I think even soviets M-82 / ASh-82F (radial) and the Mikulin AM family, from 35 to 42 (inline), could be considered.

Id go for the R-2800 family as the ultimate engine of WW2. There are so many versions of it also and they are all great.

The tops though for me are these in no particular order except for the R-2800 which is number one:

Allison V-1710-111/113
Packard V-1650-7
Wright R-3350-23 Duplex Cyclone
Packard Merlin 266
Griffon 65
Griffon 85
Merlin 77
Napier Sabre V
Bristol Centaurus 18
Rolls-Royce Or Packard Merlin 20 or 22

Again these are not in a general order but they make up for me in my opinion the best engines of WW2.
Interesting list Adler.

I would wonder about the R3350 though. It had reliability issues as compared against the other engines through most of its useage in WW2. It really didnt have the bugs worked out of it untill after the war ended.
In an absolute comparisin for relibility and power theP&W R-2800 had it all over teh Merlin.
The 2800 is a class leader.

Don't forget the 1800 and the 2600 which flew thousands of missions during the war. Not as powerful as the 2800 but just as reliable.

And for liquid cooled engines the Allison was as reliable as any other including the Merlin. The problems with the early P-38 in the ETO (only)have not only been paraded in the press but are totaly blown out of proportion.

The V-1710 offered a high level of reliability in the later versions of the P-40. The RAF found out that an Allison could eat quite a bit more sand than a Merlin, an important feature in North Africa. In the Lightning, the V-1710 required more maintenance, but that was due to turbocharging. I would still consider even the P-38's Allison's reliable, and wouldn't say the turbocharged V-1710's were as troublesome as the R-3350's were during the war. The Junkers Jumo was also noted for it's reliability.
Dogwalker said:
I think Bristol Centaurus didn't "saw widespread use" at all. :rolleyes:


Excuse me for my mistake! :rolleyes:

Also if you read my post, you will see that I said nothing about it being "saw widespread us" at all. I said that this was my List of the top engines of WW2 not the Top Engines of WW2 to See Wide Spread Use list.
I agree, the R-2800. It wasn't really best at anything (< arguable), but it was good at everything. It's power ratings always seemed to be on the conservative side which led to very high reliability.

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