In pursuit of continued engine development, Rolls-Royce’s experimental department at Hucknall, Nottinghamshire, operated a rich variety of types — as were captured by The Aeroplane’s photographer in 1937. Their activities at that time offer a snapshot of a crucial period in power plant progress


Eighty years ago, Rolls- Royce found itself in the vanguard of aeronautical change. The RAF was about to set course on its great transition from biplanes to monoplanes —delivery of the first Battles and Hurricanes was but months away, the Spitfire’s flight test programme had begun. And key to all, of course, was the Rolls-Royce Merlin. First run as the PV12 on 15 October 1933, at which time it developed some 740hp, this private-venture 27-litre liquid-cooled V12 unit needed some perfecting, but by 1937 was producing more than 1,000hp in Merlin II form.

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