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Circa 1913: 6 Cylinder Anzani Radial Engine At The Henry Ford Museum

 I’m constantly amazed at the state of the art of aircraft engine building back 90 to 100 years ago.  It was a lot more advanced at the time than it seems like it should have been.  For example, this cute looking Anzani 6 cylinder radial engine from around 1913.  That’s one gorgeous looking little engine!  (if you need another example, check out the Duesenberg V-16 beast from 1919)

 I’m not really all that up to speed on historical engine design and manufacture, but I do know that radial engines essentially always have an odd number of cylinders.  The fact that this one is an even 6 cylinders stood out right away.  So I did a little research and found out something pretty cool… this engine is likely the first ever twin row radial!  It’s actually 2, 3 cylinder engines slightly staggered, as can be seen when you look where the cylinders attach to the case.  This 280 cubic inch engine made about 45hp at 1,300 rpm.  Gotta love those big slow turning props : )

 Alessandro Anzani was an Italian that moved to France and set up an engine shop in 1907.  His engines found their way into all kinds of machines from cars to cycles and of course airplanes.  When Louis Bleriot flew across the English Channel in 1909, he had an Anzani 3 cylinder engine up front.

 The engine pictured is on display at the fabulous Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.  If you don’t know, it’s a must see museum with a nice aircraft collection along with loads of other interesting artifacts from the automotive world and beyond, way beyond.  I go at least once a year and I never get tired of the place.

 The airplane that the engine is attached to is a small biplane designed and built by Matty Laird and flown in an exhibition tour of Japan in 1916 by Katherine Stinson.  I must admit that I’m just getting to know some of the story on her, and I can see that there’s gonna be a lot to talk about.  Katherine was the fourth woman to receive a pilot’s license, was the first to perform a loop, and her flying is what inspired her brothers to start the Stinson Aircraft Company.  When you look at the picture of the airplane on display in The Henry Ford, you're looking at a lot of history!

 Lastly, I’m thinking it’s time for someone to build some cool, small (60hp) radial engines that turn big props nice and slow.  If guys like Anzani could do it 100 years ago, seems like all our fancy technology could sure do it affordably today.  I think the sport aircraft world needs it… any thoughts?


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Reader Comments (1)

Well, the Sadler 6-cylinder radial has been around for the last couple of decades:

June 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDuncan

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