German workshops specialized in British & American radial engines?

chris ballance

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Jul 21, 2022
Did the Luftwaffe have any workshops that specialized in maintaining the sizable number of American and British radial engines they had in their possession? Or was this work subcontracted to civilian workshops in occupied countries? I read where the Germans sent DC-2 & DC-3s to Switzerland for repair. Did the Swiss also rebuild the engines?
 

FLYBOYJ

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Did the Luftwaffe have any workshops that specialized in maintaining the sizable number of American and British radial engines they had in their possession? Or was this work subcontracted to civilian workshops in occupied countries? I read where the Germans sent DC-2 & DC-3s to Switzerland for repair. Did the Swiss also rebuild the engines?
The Swiss always maintained a robust maintenance depot, primarily to support their own national airlines. It would not surprise me if they did overhaul work for the Germans. Their maintenance division eventually became SR Technics
 

chris ballance

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Jul 21, 2022
The Swiss always maintained a robust maintenance depot, primarily to support their own national airlines. It would not surprise me if they did overhaul work for the Germans. Their maintenance division eventually became SR Technics
I was assuming there had to be a network of companies on the continent with experience maintaining and rebuilding Curtiss-Wright engines (don't know about Pratt & Whitney) given the number of Douglas and Lockheed aircraft flying commercially in Europe before the war. Was Fokker or maybe more logically Gnome et Rhône in the service/repair business? Also, no idea how deep Bristol was embed into the European market before the war, but didn't the Jupiter and Mercury enter license production in some European countries?

My guess was that the Germans outsourced the maintenance of British & American radials engines...
 

FLYBOYJ

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guess I'm forgetting about all the Lufthansa technicians and repair facilities....
Was going to mention this as well. I know when an airline makes a major purchase they usually buy equipment and material so they can maintain their fleet or set up a facility to do maintenance.
 

chris ballance

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Jul 21, 2022
Was going to mention this as well. I know when an airline makes a major purchase they usually buy equipment and material so they can maintain their fleet or set up a facility to do maintenance.
I thought Lufthansa only bought a single DC-2, but the Germans would have gained access to the facilities of Československá letecká společnost (ČLS), KLM, and LOT.
 

chris ballance

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Jul 21, 2022
Maybe my assumption about there being a sizable number of American & British radial engines on the continent is incorrect. In the late 1930s if you have ten twin engine aircraft owned by an airline, do you have 30 or 40 total engines in total inventory?
 

GrauGeist

Generalfeldmarschall zur Luftschiff Abteilung
There's really no reason why American and/or British engines couldn't have been overhauled at any of the Luftwaffe's repair depots - the engines already in service at the start of the war would have had technical manuals readily available for civil aircraft maintenance as well as some types in service with the German military.

The BMW132 radial was based on the P&W R-1690 and was used on quite a few Luftwaffe types.

The Bramo323 and Siemens-Halske Sh.22 (which became the Bramo322) were based on the Bristol Jupiter and used on a variety of Luftwaffe types.

Access to replacement parts may have become an issue for upkeep on American or British manufactured engines, but a good quartermaster has "ways" to get what's needed.
 

chris ballance

Airman 1st Class
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Jul 21, 2022
There's really no reason why American and/or British engines couldn't have been overhauled at any of the Luftwaffe's repair depots - the engines already in service at the start of the war would have had technical manuals readily available for civil aircraft maintenance as well as some types in service with the German military.

The BMW132 radial was based on the P&W R-1690 and was used on quite a few Luftwaffe types.

The Bramo323 and Siemens-Halske Sh.22 (which became the Bramo322) were based on the Bristol Jupiter and used on a variety of Luftwaffe types.

Access to replacement parts may have become an issue for upkeep on American or British manufactured engines, but a good quartermaster has "ways" to get what's needed.
Would these radials have any special tools? Not just imperial vs metric, but did Wright or Pratt make special tooling that went with the engines?
 

FLYBOYJ

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Would these radials have any special tools? Not just imperial vs metric, but did Wright or Pratt make special tooling that went with the engines?
Yes - for example they would need special spanner wrenches to remove cylinder heads, Pratt and CW products would be different. There is usually a host of special tools you'll need to work on these engines. I know some of my fellow maintainers will chime in

MiTasol MiTasol
nuuumannn nuuumannn
 

nuuumannn

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Nelson
I can't speak specifically for warbird engines, I'm a framer and have only line experience on gas turbines, but every engine (and propeller), no matter what it is has specialty tooling, simply because of the design of these things. Designers don't think too much about maintainers getting access to things (except with the Bf 109 and Fw 190, apparently; these aircraft are a maintainer's dream regarding access, except for the Messer's crappy DB engines, which are difficult and expensive to maintain in a modern environment), so with engines, special spanners and fittings always come with the aircraft as supplied by the engine manufacturer, which have to be approved by the airframe manufacturer, especially in this day and age of high regulation and threat of litigation. Even in the sanitised environment of airline servicing I worked in, we used to bastardise our personal spanners to fit awkward spaces between filters and pumps and stuff on engines and we had a guy who was a whizz with a welding torch who made tooling for us to use, but being caught doing so could have resulted in huge fines and fleet groundings. Nothing like a false manufacturer's sticker to put the auditors at ease, who wouldn't take a second glance at the tool hanging nonchalantly on the shadow board... :D
 

MiTasol

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as well as the factory tools most maintenance technicians have their own "home made" tools to make some jobs easier.
The tool kit for the EARLY MAINTENANCE R-1820 kit is below - for overhaul multiply that by 10
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The overhaul tool kit - not including standard tools - for the R-2800 is attached. For R-1820 and 30 the lists are not that much different in content though the part numbers are naturally different.
 

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Todd Secrest

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Jan 16, 2016
My two cents.
I would have assumed when an allied four engine bomber goes down in Axis territory, its parts are melted down to make Bf-109s and FW-190s.
I would think the radial engines used on the B-17s and B-24s would not be powerful enough for use on German fighter and two engine bombers.
And if an allied fighter, with it's Merlin (running on 130 or 150 octane) crashes in Axia territory, they would have to detune the Merlin to run on axis 89 octane, which I guess offers no worthwhile advantages over something like the DB605.
 

chris ballance

Airman 1st Class
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Jul 21, 2022
My two cents.
I would have assumed when an allied four engine bomber goes down in Axis territory, its parts are melted down to make Bf-109s and FW-190s.
I would think the radial engines used on the B-17s and B-24s would not be powerful enough for use on German fighter and two engine bombers.
And if an allied fighter, with it's Merlin (running on 130 or 150 octane) crashes in Axia territory, they would have to detune the Merlin to run on axis 89 octane, which I guess offers no worthwhile advantages over something like the DB605.
I have read the Germans valued engines like the Wright R-1820 Cyclone to keep their DC-2 and DC-3s in the air.
 

nuuumannn

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Nelson
I have read the Germans valued engines like the Wright R-1820 Cyclone to keep their DC-2 and DC-3s in the air.

Yup, it made sense to examine your enemy's stuff, too, even if you couldn't directly use it, if anything to see where exactly they are up to technology-wise. When German aircraft crashed on British soil, teams from the aviation establishments went out to look at them to see if there was anything they could learn from them, the German bombers in particular had sophisticated nav and bombing aids. That's how the British learned more about the German Knickebein, X & Y-Gerat stuff. Anything that wasn't needed was junked into aircraft dumps and melted down, which is here those thousands of Messers, Heinkels and Junkers ended up. The same happened to Rudolf Hess' Bf 110; it ended up in a dump in Scotland because the Bf 110 (day fighter) wasn't a particularly investigative-worthy type, and someone had the fortitude to dig it out. The fuselage survives with IWM.
 

MiTasol

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I think the original discussion is relating to engines in the many captured allied aircraft flown by the Germans.

As you say, 90+% of crashed aircraft would be salvaged for scrap - not reuse.
 

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