Concept

Rolls-Royce Vulture

Summary
The Rolls-Royce Vulture was a British aero engine developed shortly before World War II that was designed and built by Rolls-Royce Limited. The Vulture used the unusual "X-24" configuration, whereby four cylinder blocks derived from the Rolls-Royce Peregrine were joined by a common crankshaft supported by a single crankcase. The engine was originally designed to produce around but problems with the Vulture design meant that the engines were derated to around 1,450 to 1,550 hp in service by limiting the maximum rpm. Although several new aircraft designs had been planned to use the Vulture, work on the engine's design ended in 1941 as Rolls-Royce concentrated on their more successful Merlin design. Another 24-cylinder engine, the Napier Sabre, proved more successful after a lengthy development period. The supercharged Rolls-Royce Kestrel and its derivative, the Rolls-Royce Peregrine, were fairly standard designs, with two cylinder banks arranged in a V form and with a displacement of . The Vulture was, in effect, two Peregrines joined by a new crankcase turning a new crankshaft, producing an X engine configuration with a displacement of . The Vulture used cylinders of the same bore and stroke as the Peregrine, but the cylinder spacing was increased to accommodate a longer crankshaft, necessary for extra main bearings and wider crankpins. The engine suffered from an abbreviated development period because Rolls-Royce suspended Vulture development in 1940 during the Battle of Britain to concentrate on the Merlin, which powered the RAF's two main fighters, the Hawker Hurricane and Supermarine Spitfire, and as a consequence the reliability of the Vulture when it entered service was very poor. Apart from delivering significantly less than the designed power, the Vulture suffered from frequent failures of the connecting rod big end bearings, which was found to be caused by a breakdown in lubrication, and also from heat dissipation problems.
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