In the aviation field, there are lots of different engines that drive our aircraft upwards and forwards. From the huge turboprops on jets to smaller turbine engines and beyond, there are many different types of engines out there. One of the most popular has been and remains the radial engine, and understanding more about it is important.
The radial engine is one of the oldest types of aircraft engines that are still in use today, due to a number of things including their high level of reliability, easy maintenance, versatility, and smooth operation. But just how do radial engines like the R-1340 and R-985 work? It’s a good question, and one that has an answer much simpler than you might suspect.
Essentially, a radial engine works through a process of reciprocating combustion. There are several cylinders that all radiate out from the crankcase. This design gives it an appearance that led to it being called the ‘star engine’ in some languages such as German and French.
As the central crankcase turns, the pistons in the cylinders all move forwards and backwards in different times. This fires off the cylinders and delivers the combustion into the combustion chamber that is needed to provide the power to the engine. To get a clear look at this process, you can check out this simple image.
This design is incredibly simple, and as such it uses fewer moving parts than some other designs and also provides a much more reliable form of engine power. That’s the big reason that radial engines are still being used today, despite the fact that turbine and turboprop engines will generally deliver more power. The radial engine’s design makes it much easier for mechanics to repair and maintain. This helps make it a popular choice among small fleet managers or those who own only a single aircraft.
While the basics of a radial engine’s operation are straightforward and easy to understand, its finer points are still better left to the professionals when it comes to tuning and maintaining. Whether you have a plane with this type of engine already or are considering using it in the future, it’s a great design that has stood the test of time.