Radial Engine Round Up – at AirVenture 2022

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Radial aircraft engines have been around for more than a century. Predominantly air-cooled, many engines of the last 100 years or so were lighter than their liquid-cooled counterparts that developed similar horsepower. Their characteristic odd-numbered cylinders are arranged in a circular bank, instead of in a straight line. Especially in the 1920s through the 1950s, the radial engine-powered many military and commercial designs. The jet age, plus aeronautical and metallurgical advances overtook radial designs after World War II, as one drawback of an air-cooled radial is that the round bank of cylinders which produces much aerodynamic drag. 

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Today, very few radial engines are being built. Russia’s Vedeneyev produces the M-14 radial engine, used in many aerobatic aircraft. Many warbirds are powered by radial engines built by Pratt and Whitney and Curtiss-Wright. British manufacturer Bristol developed the Centaurus too. 

How many types are you familiar with? You can hover over each photo taken at the 2022 EAA  AirVenture to see a wide range of radial engines used in military and civilian designs.

Ken Kula

Assignment and Content Editor, writer and photographer A New Englander all of my life, I've lived in New Hampshire since 1981. My passion for all things aviation began at a very early age, and I coupled this with my interest of photography during college in the late 1970s. I spent 32 years in the air traffic control industry, and concurrently, enjoyed my aviation photography and writing adventures, which continue today. I've been quite fortunate to have been mentored by some generous and gifted individuals. I enjoy contributing to this great site, and working with some very knowledgeable and equally passionate aviation followers.

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