RADIAL VERSUS IN-LINE

One of the disputes that peaked in World War Two was a notably powerful one: which piston engine configuration was superior — radial or in-line?

BRIEFING FILE

Under the skin of aviation technology and tactics

A perennial argument in aviation technology pits the simplicity, robustness and reliability of the radial piston engine — advantages offset by the large frontal area and drag — against the more streamlined in-line piston engine, which itself suffered from the extra weight and vulnerability of its liquid cooling system. Some non-fighter in-line engines were of course air-cooled, generally the lower-power types; notable examples were the Fieseler Storch’s Argus As 10 inverted V8, a number of US Ranger engines and the widely used de Havilland units.

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