Surviving Hercules Engine numbers

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9 years 1 month

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While going back thru the Key archives I found a 2008 post asking a similar question about how many of the 57,000+ Hercules engines still survive, but no one seems to have ever been able to determine that figure. Has anyone got even a rough guesstimate? I've been curious as during some of my rummaging in the Australian National Archives I found reference to over 150 leftover power eggs after the war that resided at DAP in Melbourne (where the Australian Beaufighter amongst others were built), and was able to trace them as far as 1947 when they were moved into storage further north. Have not ever found any indication they were then struck off and disposed of. Now don't get excited thinking there are buried Hercules engines about ;) I highly doubt it indeed (be great though!) as I suspect they ended up probably at Tocuwmal and went to RH Grant who were the main scrappers, along with Hughes.... Just curious more than anything. The Moorabbin Air Museum has four or five for memory (two in the Beau) but not been down to look at them and see which variant.
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Profile picture for user TwinOtter23

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There’s a Bristol Hercules 264 displayed here! Plus 4 in the Hastings and 2 in the Varsity!!

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9 years 1 month

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Nice, great website too btw ! I guess there are a fair few of them in museums around the world. I am aware of a few privately owned ones but that wouldn't count for more than five or six. There are a couple of partial ones around but I'm thinking more of complete units
Profile picture for user Blue_2

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IIRC at Elvington we have 6. 4 on the Halifax, one on a stand and one in the Bomber Command exhibition.
Profile picture for user 12jaguar

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We also have a bare 264 from a Varsity mounted on a stand John

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Pse forgive a "sideways" answer to your #1. Those of us who have done a dozen (or more) flights up/down the S Atlantic on the Airbridge always got slightly twitchy sphincter muscles when the Flt Eng on 'Fat Albert' came back into the Roach Coach from the Front Office and, repeatedly, shone his torch out of one of the windows onto one of the donks!! If we had to go into the Oggin, were we far enough south not to worry about sharks? But, on the other hand, would hypothermia get us in the end? HTH Resmoroh
Profile picture for user Anon

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I think Bellarine is referring to Bristol Hercules engines, Resmoroh, not those Bl**dy great Allison thingies on your C-130 Hercules:D There must be quite a few hundred about as they were used until well after the war, in fact until the Varsity went out. I think the French used them even later than that on their Noratlas transports. Without hardly trying I can think of around 20+ though many of these are late-type 264's. Anon.

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Ive got 5 , i unused 1 with 200 hrs inhibited ex WL676 1 seized exWF376 and 2 on my Varsity WL626 which would run acccept they are too noisy for the locals.
Profile picture for user Wyvernfan

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Nice. Where is your Varsity, Varsity? Rob

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East Midlands on his behalf!
Profile picture for user J Boyle

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A general question....how many are airworthy? And why aren't more UK radials still in use? Lack of spares and support? Lack of flying aircraft that use them?...or are the few flying aircraft because of the lack of engine support?
Profile picture for user Anon

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That's a question I'd like to see some sort of sensible answer to as well. The Hercules had the longest overhaul life of any production piston engine (3,000 hrs, if I recall correctly) yet there are none flying. You would have thought that at least a few would have found their way to the States for use in projects of one sort or another. Bags of power and great reliability as well as greater tolerance of exhaust back-pressure if turbocharged. May be it's the sheer mass-availability and spares for their US home-grown stuff that stymied that one? Anon.

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Great answers from everyone, thanks a bunch ! I would like to know the answer on the post above too re UK radials I suppose the issue with there being a lack of engines being used in flying aircraft would come down to availability of spares. I've certainly got a few parts for the Hercules, some in decent quantities, others maybe one or two and know of another person who has some great parts in his collection, though neither of us own an engine..... much of the spare parts that were around seem to have been junked at some point. Cheetah spares are hard to come by over here as another example, the only things I have found along the way have all been from dismantled or scrapped engines. Maybe Anon's suggestion is right that the US produced things in far greater numbers - the P+W 1830 being a great example with over 173,000 units made, some 30,000 more than even the Merlin.... I'm sure there must be some that could get powered up again with a bit of TLC. The Moorabbin Beaufighter engines still drip oil onto the wheels even now, though the last ground run was many many years ago....stopped by powers that be and public liability insurance no doubt...a shame, really

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That's a question I'd like to see some sort of sensible answer to as well. The Hercules had the longest overhaul life of any production piston engine (3,000 hrs, if I recall correctly) yet there are none flying.
Is the French Noratlas grounded then? - - - Updated - - - The Bristol Hercules.....the greatest engine never to be flown in a single-engined aircraft! My guess would be that fact is part of the problem; there are more problems flying a historic twin-engined aircraft. There are quite a few Bristol Centaurus engines flying in Hawker Sea Fury both in the United Kingdom and in the United States (although too many have had these replaced with an American radial).
Profile picture for user TwinOtter23

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Having got the grey-cells working properly I’ve just opened up my copy of the Issue 1 of the BAPC Aero-Engine List, which was issued in 2003. Under the Bristol listing Hercules engines were listed and noted with serial numbers at 47 sites in the UK (some had multiple entries e.g. NAM’s Hastings etc.); in addition there were 11 unidentified engines noted!

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A couple running on the taxiable Kiwi Bristol Freighter and the chap who got those going has a trailer-mounted example that goes too. If several were flying there would certainly be a small industry of new/rebuilt components to support them. The lack of flying/flyable airframes hamstrings the Hercules. We'd all love to see Varsitys, Freighters and Noratlas' etc flying but perhaps our only chance is a Beaufighter ... and that might be the only 'popular' Hercules-powered type that returns to the air.
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One question I’ve often wondered is how many per 100 series Hercules engines still exist? There are plenty of surviving late model engines around but these are quite different beasts to the pre 100 series engines. Anne.

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13 years

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The Hendon Wellington (two), the Canadian Halifax (four), (six?) Bristol Beaufighters (twelve). There are sectioned Hercules engines at Coventry and Newark, there must be more, and a complete engine at Duxford.

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9 years 1 month

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I stand corrected - Moorabbin Museum has six engines....

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10 years 6 months

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There was an early one ex Wellington at Eden camp.

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19 years 9 months

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We have two at Ferrymead out of one of the RNZAF Hastings plus we have quite a stock of parts left over from SAFE Air's disposal of their stocks from Bristol Freighters (however we sold the bulk of what we had to the Fighter Collection for their Beaufighter project some years back). There are several Freighters around NZ each with a couple on board as well.