Rolls-Royce: Aero Engines
1914 The Royal Aircraft Factory, responsible for supplying military aircraft, asked Rolls-Royce to tender to build a batch of Renault aero-engines. Royce was not much impressed by the design of the Renault engine. The company constructed an initial batch of 50 needed to power B.E.2 light bombers. This inspired Royce to develop a better product, one that would be water-cooled to provide a much higher power-to-weight ratio than Rolls-Royce's earlier engines. This became the Eagle.
Around half the aircraft engines used by the Allies in World War I were made by Rolls-Royce.
1920 Produced the Condor aero-engine
By the late 1920s, aero engines made up most of Rolls-Royce's business.
1931 A Rolls-Royce engined Vickers biplane wins the Schneider Trophy at a speed of 386.1 mph
1933 The Condor engine was produced.
1935 Henry Royce's last design was the Merlin aero engine, which came out in 1935, although he had died in 1933. This was developed after the R engine, which had powered a record-breaking Supermarine S6B seaplane to almost 400 mph in the 1931 Schneider Trophy. The Merlin was a powerful V12 engine and was fitted into many World War II aircraft: the Hawker Hurricane, Supermarine Spitfire, de Havilland Mosquito (two-engine), Avro Lancaster (four-engine), Vickers Wellington (two-engine); it also transformed the American P-51 Mustang into possibly the best fighter of its time, its Merlin engine built by Packard under licence. Over 160,000 Merlin engines were produced. The Merlin crossed over into military vehicle use as the Meteor powering the Centurion tank among others.
1937 Aero engine manufacturers. "Kestrel" Aero Engines. "Merlin" Aero Engines. 
1940 Stanley Hooker met Frank Whittle and later introduced him to Rolls' CEO, Ernest Hives. Hooker led Rolls' supercharger division, which was naturally suited to jet engine work. Hives agreed to supply key parts to help the Whittle jet engine project; Rolls' engineers helped solve the surging problems seen in the early engines.
By late 1941 it was obvious to all that the arrangement between Power Jets and Rover for production of the engine was not working. Whittle was frustrated by Rover's inability to deliver production-quality parts; Rover was losing interest in the project after the delays and constant harassment from Power Jets.
Early 1942 Whittle contracted Rolls-Royce to supply six engines, known as the WR.1.
In the post-World War II period Rolls-Royce made significant advances in gas turbine engine design and manufacture. The Dart and Tyne turboprop engines were particularly important, enabling airlines to cut times for shorter journeys whilst jet airliners were introduced on longer services. The Dart engine was used in Argosy, Avro 748, Friendship, Herald and Viscount aircraft, whilst the more powerful Tyne powered the Atlantic, Transall and Vanguard, and the SRN-4 hovercraft. Many of these turboprops are still in service. Amongst the jet engines of this period was the RB163 Spey, which powers the Trident, BAC 1-11, Grumman Gulfstream II and Fokker F28.
During the late 1950s and 1960s there was a significant rationalisation of all aspects of British aerospace and this included aero-engine manufacturers, culminating in the merger of Rolls-Royce and Bristol Siddeley Engines in 1966 (Bristol Siddeley had itself resulted from the merger of Armstrong Siddeley Motors and Bristol Aero-Engines in 1959). Bristol Siddeley, with its principal factory at Filton, near Bristol, had a strong base in military engines, including the Olympus, Viper, Pegasus and Orpheus. They also manufactured the Olympus 593 Mk610 for Concorde.
1968 First test run of the RB 211 turbo-fan engine for Lockheed.
1974 The first industrial RB 211 gas turbine engine began powered tests at the company's Industrial and Marine Division at Ansty. The second was under construction for test while the third will be shipped out in the Autumn to Canada for a gas pumping installation.
- Eagle 1915-1928 - (4,681 built) - V12
- Hawk 1915-1918 - (215 built) - Straight 6
- Falcon 1916-1927 - (2,185 built) - V12 of 14.2 litres
- Condor 1918-1932 - (327 built) - V12
- Merlin 1935- - (150,000) - V12 of 27 litres
- Kestrel 1927
- R 1929-34 - (19 built)
- Pennine 1945- - X24 of 44 litres
- Vulture X24
- Crecy 1945- - (6 built) - V12 of 26.1 litres
- Eagle 22 (50 built) - H24 of 46 litres
Gas turbine turbojet aero-engines
- Welland 1943- -(167 built)
- Nene 1944- Aka RB.41
- Tay Aka RB.44
- Avon 1950-1974 - (>11,000 built)
- Viper 1953-
- Soar 1953-
Gas turbine turboprop aero-engines
Gas turbine bypass turbofan aero-engines
Gas turbine lift jet aero-engines
Gas turbine turboshaft aero-engines
Sources of Information
- The Early History of Motoring by Claude Johnson
- 1937 The Aeroplane Directory of the Aviation and Allied Industries
- The Times, Nov 02, 1960
- The Engineer 1968/01/05 p21
- The Engineer 1974/01/24
- The Engineer 1974/04/04