MATHIS 'Vega' 42-Cylinder French Aero-Engine

xylstra

Airman 1st Class
187
44
Jul 9, 2014
I am searching for pictures and drawings of this most unusual engine. There is only a very little on-line. There used to be an intersting post for this in the Classic Warbirds Forum which unfortunately, now seems to be defunct (what happened to this forum; did it move/re-name/ or just go extinct?).
Putnam Books (UK) also published the annual book of World Aircraft Engines 1945 --> onwards which contained more pictures. Unfortunately I no lponger have access to a copy. Does anyone?
All other technical information would be most welcome.
Thanks.
 

jschreiber

Recruit
3
1
Jan 15, 2009
I am searching for pictures and drawings of this most unusual engine. There is only a very little on-line. There used to be an intersting post for this in the Classic Warbirds Forum which unfortunately, now seems to be defunct (what happened to this forum; did it move/re-name/ or just go extinct?).
Putnam Books (UK) also published the annual book of World Aircraft Engines 1945 --> onwards which contained more pictures. Unfortunately I no lponger have access to a copy. Does anyone?
All other technical information would be most welcome.
Thanks.

Hello
Here some informations from the classical "Les moteurs a pistons aeronautiques francais, Bodemer et Laugier, Docavia 25" :
The first Mathis Vega (41 A, 1938), a 42 cylinders water cooled engine (7 rows of six cylinders, bore 125 mm, stroke 115 mm, total displacement 59,3 liters), was bench tested in 1939, and gave an output of 2300 HP at 3000 rpm. At 3200 rpm, 2800 HP were expected (41 B, 1939).
Apparently, only two prototyps were build (none survived).
Later (1946), a biger version was on the drawing board (42 D, 158x145, 120 liters (!), 5000 HP expected), but was soon cancelled.

(the picture come from the same book)

Have a nice day !
 

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johnbr

1st Lieutenant
6,581
5,041
Jun 23, 2006
London Ontario Canada
This engine was produced in 1938 by Mathis under the designation ‘Vega 42 A’, It was a liquid cooled 42 cylinder radial (7 banks of 6 cylinders) and during bench testing in 1939 produced 2,300 HP at 3,000 rpm. It weighed 1,280 kg. In comparison with foreign engines of the time it was very advanced, the Mathis company even succeeded in carrying out some flight tests. It was hoped to develop the Vega 42 engine until it produced 2,800 HP at 3,200 rpm.

"In 1940 Mathis and George hid the prototype from the invaders in the Pyrenees and despite a great deal of difficulty continued to carry out tests under the control of the Official Services (The Pratt & Whitney Wasp Major R.4360 of the same era, was a 28 cylinder engine of 3,000 HP, but Mathis had succeeded in building his Vega engine of 42 cylinders giving 2,300 HP before the war.). After the war a new engine of 4,600 HP was studied on the guiding principle of the Vega. But as the other engineers who had continued similar studies were to find this class of engine was superseded by turbine engines.
Mathis 42 cylindres.jpg
mathis 42 vega.JPG
 
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xylstra

Airman 1st Class
187
44
Jul 9, 2014
This engine was produced in 1938 by Mathis under the designation ‘Vega 42 A’, It was a liquid cooled 42 cylinder radial (7 banks of 6 cylinders) and during bench testing in 1939 produced 2,300 HP at 3,000 rpm. It weighed 1,280 kg. In comparison with foreign engines of the time it was very advanced, the Mathis company even succeeded in carrying out some flight tests. It was hoped to develop the Vega 42 engine until it produced 2,800 HP at 3,200 rpm.

"In 1940 Mathis and George hid the prototype from the invaders in the Pyrenees and despite a great deal of difficulty continued to carry out tests under the control of the Official Services (The Pratt & Whitney Wasp Major R.4360 of the same era, was a 28 cylinder engine of 3,000 HP, but Mathis had succeeded in building his Vega engine of 42 cylinders giving 2,300 HP before the war.). After the war a new engine of 4,600 HP was studied on the guiding principle of the Vega. But as the other engineers who had continued similar studies were to find this class of engine was superseded by turbine engines. View attachment 500135
Hi "johnbr", Thanks for your reply-post. The myth of the 'Vega' prototypes is still not fully resolved. There were two prototypes not just one - could one have been transferred to England in advance of the German arrival? Much of the reportage is vague and second or third-hand with little documented corroboration. Indeed there is a persistant and disturbing lack of evidence of anything at all - including the physical engines. What happened to them? Answers wanted!!
 

Snowygrouch

Senior Airman
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Dec 28, 2015
Scotland
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Hi "johnbr", Thanks for your reply-post. The myth of the 'Vega' prototypes is still not fully resolved. There were two prototypes not just one - could one have been transferred to England in advance of the German arrival? Much of the reportage is vague and second or third-hand with little documented corroboration. Indeed there is a persistant and disturbing lack of evidence of anything at all - including the physical engines. What happened to them? Answers wanted!!

I do not know what happened to the engines, but I have made an extremely thorough survey of British records of piston aero-engine development from 1930-1946, and have seen absolutely no reference to this engine anywhere. This not definitive proof - but I would say it tends to suggest its unlikely it ended up in the UK, shipping it over would have been quite a big task and it would be extremely surprising that having organized all that, there would be no surviving technical reports on it by the Royal Aircraft Establishment or Ministry of Aircraft Production.
 

jetcal1

Staff Sergeant
1,001
568
May 16, 2018
I do not know what happened to the engines, but I have made an extremely thorough survey of British records of piston aero-engine development from 1930-1946, and have seen absolutely no reference to this engine anywhere. This not definitive proof - but I would say it tends to suggest its unlikely it ended up in the UK, shipping it over would have been quite a big task and it would be extremely surprising that having organized all that, there would be no surviving technical reports on it by the Royal Aircraft Establishment or Ministry of Aircraft Production.
Sir, when are you going to publish a book?

Thanks,
JC1
 

Snowygrouch

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Sir, when are you going to publish a book?

Thanks,
JC1

On sale April 2020, through Mortons Press. I`ve been writing it for 5 years, now just about done - in the last 3months of writing it now.

If you`re interested I tend to put info on my website and horrid (but useful) places like facebook/linkedin/twitter.

https://www.calum-douglas.com

I suppose I can get away with shameless self publicity as I was asked... haha

COVER.png
 

basil

Airman
42
3
Sep 10, 2011
On sale April 2020, through Mortons Press. I`ve been writing it for 5 years, now just about done - in the last 3months of writing it now.

If you`re interested I tend to put info on my website and horrid (but useful) places like facebook/linkedin/twitter.

https://www.calum-douglas.com

I suppose I can get away with shameless self publicity as I was asked... haha

View attachment 549473
On sale April 2020, through Mortons Press. I`ve been writing it for 5 years, now just about done - in the last 3months of writing it now.

If you`re interested I tend to put info on my website and horrid (but useful) places like facebook/linkedin/twitter.

https://www.calum-douglas.com

I suppose I can get away with shameless self publicity as I was asked... haha

View attachment 549473
Snowygrouch,
does the book also cover some unbuilt projects like two-stroke high performance concepts from Tresilian, etc?
 

Snowygrouch

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Snowygrouch,
does the book also cover some unbuilt projects like two-stroke high performance concepts from Tresilian, etc?

Does not cover any Tresilian engines. It focuses on the actual complete development picture with emphasis on militarily significant types, it does cover a lot of engines which were produced by the major manufacturers but not put into operation, and also the critical technological developments, but its utterly impossible to cover everything without it ending up hopelessly generalistic. The goal is to leave the reader with a clear impression of what was done, by whom, why and when. Not a book of data-tables.

The weight of the book is skewed towards what happened in Germany, as this is the area most poorly covered. For example there is virtually no point in covering the V-1710 or R2800 all over again, as extremely detailed books on those are known well to all serious enthusiasts already, whereas (in English) there is not one single book which actually correctly covers anything that happened in Germany. The focus is on the western front, although some data from Italy and Russia is given.

About 70% of the entire book is direct quotes from original development records and letters between the engineers at Rolls-Royce, Daimler-Benz, BMW, Jumo and Napier.

Sadly many firms (expecially american) have destroyed their archives so many stories will never be known. Chrysler, and Holley Carburettors have absolutely NO wartime archive in existence for example (I know because I wrote to them)
 

xylstra

Airman 1st Class
187
44
Jul 9, 2014
I do not know what happened to the engines, but I have made an extremely thorough survey of British records of piston aero-engine development from 1930-1946, and have seen absolutely no reference to this engine anywhere. This not definitive proof - but I would say it tends to suggest its unlikely it ended up in the UK, shipping it over would have been quite a big task and it would be extremely surprising that having organized all that, there would be no surviving technical reports on it by the Royal Aircraft Establishment or Ministry of Aircraft Production.
Hi Calum,
Of what I find most frustrating and equally intriguing about the fate of the 'Vega's' is the lack of MATHIS company documentation, not merely just the engine's themselves, i.e. Test reports, Engineering Blue-Prints, Technical Brochures, Correspondence, Financial Asset Registers, etc. .... yet a reasonable collection of black & white photographs survived. You'd think that at the very least some nostalgic employee (perhaps Emil MATHIS himself?) would have souvineered a few of the general arrangement blueprints.
Your statemnet as to the unlikelihood of a 'Vega' being shipped under urgency would ordinarily be true but I suspect that the author of the myth (I have never been able to establish from exactly where it originated) may have resorted to a dollop of artistic license. If true then I believe the scenario may have been more along these lines:
The ROLLS-ROYCE PV-12, the antecedent of what became the 'Merlin' arose as a consequence of R-R seizing a commercial opportunity, hence "PV' meaning private venture - remember, no-one was yet at war. The 'Kestrel' line had reached its power limit with no more evolutionary/developmental 'stretch' left in its basic design architecture. The Air Ministry was projecting faster aircraft with more range and warload capacity. R-R realised this would require a more powerful engine: the PV-12.
Likewise, the 'Armee d'le Air' were also visualising future combat aircraft requirements and similarly, MATHIS opportunistically sensed a commercial opportunity to leap-frog over the heads of their competitors by raising the ante with a super-powerful 42-cylinder monster which became the 'Vega' prototype. In the late 1930's the 'drums of war' were beating ever louder and the British Air Ministry began to panic as they realised they were badly prepared for imminent air warfare (believe it or not, they even had a standing order with Regianne in Italy(!) for 200 fighter aircraft as late as early 1940 - that is, until the Germans got to hear about it!). I speculate that MATHIS latched onto this and flicked a brochure over to the Air Ministry pitching the 'Vega'. Out of desperation, the British may have given a positive reaction and requested testing of the prototpye at the R.A.E. Subsequently, it was shipped to the U.K. by sea as normal commercial freight and possibly, by sheer coincidence it just happened to have arrived just prior to the German invasion, hence the mythical 'clandestine evacuation'. It is likely to have been stored at Farnborough probably along with captured German and other foreign aero-engines available for technical evaluation. Post-war, it was either re-patriated back to France or else, with the cost of freight and the 'writing-on-the-wall' vise vie the arrival of the gas-turbine MATHIS may have decided it was cheaper to just scrap it in the UK.
This scenario would explain a lot regarding the physical absence of an 'Anglo-MATHIS' and leaving open the possibility that the second prototype back in France was secreted away in Lyon.
The fact is, we'll never know unless someone discovers a verifiable, corroborating document.
The hunt for the 'Monster' goes on..................! Cheers.
 

Snowygrouch

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Dec 28, 2015
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Hi Calum,
Of what I find most frustrating and equally intriguing about the fate of the 'Vega's' is the lack of MATHIS company documentation, not merely just the engine's themselves, i.e. Test reports, Engineering Blue-Prints, Technical Brochures, Correspondence, Financial Asset Registers, etc. .... yet a reasonable collection of black & white photographs survived. You'd think that at the very least some nostalgic employee (perhaps Emil MATHIS himself?) would have souvineered a few of the general arrangement blueprints.
.

I can only say from my own research that it is entirely possible that all the info for this engine is still there in France, I have no proof of that whatsoever - but I base this on the following experieces.

1) Things may have been written about this engine, but very often the authors base the book on things pieced together from newspapers, other books, and a couple of "lucky-finds" here and there. I wont name-names, but there is at least one quite famous book which has a section on German engines, but the author clearly never attempted to actually go to any archives in Germany to actually find the original reports. Hence the conclusions in the book are basically just nonsense. Therefore, its quite possible that Mathis information exists but that nobody has actually bothered looking beyond google. (I may be wrong about this specific engine, I`m just saying as a generalisation its often the case).

2) No disrespect to the French people. but French museums and archives are basically impeneterable to the non-Frenchman (and in fact from my experiences, are also notorsiously unhelpful to ACTUAL frenchmen too !). So I can well imagine that Mathis info is held by Airbus or some other huge French defence conglomorete because they probably have the records of the French Defence research establishment ("arsenal de l'aeronautique") .

A French museum has a very advanced Daimler-Benz engine in its stores, a French engineer who works for Renault IN france contacted them repeatedly on my behalf to gain access, they were astonishingly unhelpful and uninterested.

Thus I think research into anything happening in wartime/postwar France would be for the reasons above be exceptionally diffucult to pursue...having said THAT.... its also happened to me at least twice that researchers have told me to give up and not bother - then I had a great sucess with it. So I do not suggest giving up, merely that some luck and tremendous persistence is likely to be needed.

I would probably suggest clubbing together to pay a French researcher with experince in aviation to do some digging for you.

FLIGHT is stating that this engine was seen post-war.

kingsford smith | wing cdr | east africa | 1945 | 0849 | Flight Archive

Hence its not likely that wartime document burning can have occured - I think that drawings and data for at least the later versions ought to be all in France still. I bet that they are stored on a site owned by Airbus (I did a bit of digging once and reckoned that the long chain of buy-outs and take-overs between "arsenal de l'aeronautique" and today, ends with the Airbus company, although there looks to be at least one French state archive which could have something - in theory.
 
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Bretoal2

Airman
78
47
May 18, 2013
Do not forget that in France, many high-level technical documents were deliberately destroyed owing to the very rapid German advance in May-June 1940.

That said, it is true that the lack of interest of the French aeronautical museums for engines is quite amazing ! I remember visiting the "Motors Gallery" of the Musée de l’Air et de l’Espace (Le Bourget) 12 years ago. It was not yet dismantled at that time ... the curator who accompanied me was stunned to see that the Hispano-Suiza 12 Z had 14 intake pipes, not 12 ... he had never noticed !
 

Bretoal2

Airman
78
47
May 18, 2013
I think the "Advanced Daimler-Benz engine" in stores you speak about is a rotary valve model, no ?
 

Snowygrouch

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I think the "Advanced Daimler-Benz engine" in stores you speak about is a rotary valve model, no ?
Yes, a French engineer from Renault formula one engines in Paris emailed them several times on my behalf after I visited there, he was disappointed with the response. (My way if saying they were not interested at all that Renault F1 engines were trying to make contact with their museum..... )
 

basil

Airman
42
3
Sep 10, 2011
Calum,
as you mentioned above - often heard about the fact that american aerospace and engine companies destroyed or threw away documents of their technical archives. It´s a pity and very strange.

By the way - in what price range will your book be?
 

Snowygrouch

Senior Airman
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Dec 28, 2015
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Calum,
as you mentioned above - often heard about the fact that american aerospace and engine companies destroyed or threw away documents of their technical archives. It´s a pity and very strange.

By the way - in what price range will your book be?

That's set by the publisher, and I have no control of it. But I expect from early discussions that it will be under £40 GBP. Which is basically an astonishing bargain.
 

basil

Airman
42
3
Sep 10, 2011
That's set by the publisher, and I have no control of it. But I expect from early discussions that it will be under £40 GBP. Which is basically an astonishing bargain.

I agreed.
 

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