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Aircraft Engines

The museum has a variety of interesting piston and turbojet engines

Rolls-Royce Merlin

The Merlin XX was one of the second generation of Merlins which featured a greatly improved supercharger designed by Stanley Hooker, it was used on the Hurricane II.

The Rolls Royce Merlin, originally known as the PV12, was designed in 1933 as a private venture successor to the Kestrel intended to give 1000 hp.

The engine went through several redesigns before entering service in 1936 as the Merlin I for the Fairey Battle and the Hawker Hurricane, this was followed by the Merlin II for the Hurricane and the Merlin III for the Spitfire I. Many wartime aircraft were developed to use the Merlin and it was produced in large numbers by Packard in the United States. Development of the Merlin continued until well after the end of the war.


This Rolls-Royce Merlin XX was overhauled at the Museum and is a working engine.  It is now installed in the Hurricane Z3055, allowing it to taxi under its own power.

de Haviland Gipsy Queen

The Gipsy Queen engine is a six-cylinder in-line inverted air-cooled engine. This was produced in many versions for different uses. The 'Queen' series was developed from an earlier Gipsy version, which had powered such aircraft as the DH Dragon Rapide and Tiger Moth. The Gipsy Queen itself, became the standard power plant for small British liaison and trainer aircraft including the DH Dove and Heron, Handley-Page marathon feeder liners, and Percival Prentice and Proctor trainers.

The engine exhibited is a Series 30 type, which developed 250hp at 2,500rpm and weighs 525lb. It has an overall length of 61.5ins.


The Cheetah is an air-cooled 7 cylinder radial engine of 13.65 litres capacity, most versions developing over 300hp at 2,400rpm. During the Second World War the later versions of this engine powered training and observation aircraft such as the Airspeed Oxford and the Avro Anson. Cheetahs were well known for their reliability and were approved by the Air Ministry to operate for up to 1,200 hours between overhauls, which is a record for engines of its class.

The engine exhibited is a Cheetah X type, which developed 345hp at 2,300 rpm and weighs 720lbs. It has a diameter of 47.7 inches.

Napier Lion

Developed in 1918, at the end of the First World War, the Napier Lion became one of the most important British aero-engine of the interwar period. The engine is unique in that its 12 cylinders are arranged in three straight rows of four cylinders set at 60 degrees, thus giving the whole unit a W shape. It is liquid-cooled and the earlier versions could develop 450hp at 1900rpm, powering such types as the Fairey Fawn and Fairey IIID. Later models developed well over 500hp and were used on the Fairey IIIF.
The engine exhibited was recovered from the seabed off Ghar Lapsi, on the southwest of the island. It most probably powered a Fairey IIIF, which came to grief about seventy years ago. It was brought to the surface by scuba-diver David Schembri with the assistance of other scuba-divers from the Armed Forces of Malta. From there it was lifted by a helicopter of the Italian Air Force, which transported it to the mainland.

Bristol Centaurus

The Centaurus is a large 53.6 litre sleeve-valve radial engine which, in its later versions similar to the one on display, reached the upper limits of its category and delivered 3,220hp AT 2,800rpm with methanol-water injection. Its 18 cylinders are arranged in two rows giving it a diameter of 55.3 inches with a weight of 3,400lbs. The Centaurus epitomised the peak of British radial piston engine development and was produced for both military and civil use.

Well known military aircraft as the Hawker Tempest II and Sea Fury, Bristol Brigand and Blackburn Beverley used Centaurus power plants, while similarly powered civil aircraft included the Airspeed Ambassador (BEA's Elizabethan class).

Franklin 6AVC-425

First modern opposed 6-cylinder engine was built in 1940 and it is part of the second generation of Franklin aircraft engines. Today they would be called modular engines,

From 1946 thousands of engines are built in this and following years to power helicopters and light airplanes, including the first certified civil helicopter. Franklins power 3 out of 4 helicopters built over the next decade.

In 1975 bankruptcy again. Rights and drawings are bought by the Polish government, which begins manufacture of PZL-F engines for twin Pipers and other airplanes built in Poland.

This engine was obtained from a dealer in England in presentable condition and is mounted on its original trolley.

Bristol Mercury

The Bristol mercury piston-engine is a 9-cyclinder air-cooled radial engine, which was developed in 1927. It differed mainly from the earlier supercharged Jupiter by having a reduction gear and a shorter stroke. The Mercury was primarily designed for fighter aircraft and powered the Gloster Gauntlet and later its successor, the Gloster Gladiator. Its versatility eventually permitted it to be mounted on other types of aircraft as the Miles Martinet and Master II, the Supermarine Sea Otter and Westland Lysander, and also on twin-engined types as the Bristol Blenheim to be approved for controllable-pitch airscrews.
The engine exhibited is a Mercury XV type, which developed 825 hp at 2,650 rpm and weighs 1,065 lb. It has a diameter of 51.5 inches. It was found at Kalafrana, the site of the old sea seaplane base where the Gladiators 'Faith", 'Hope' and 'Charity' were assembled. One can notice several bullet holes on the engine.

Pratt & Whitney R-1830-90

Two of these radial piston engines power the DC3 Dakota Aircraft. Each engine is rated at 895kW (1200hp).  ThePratt & Whitney R1830S1C3G Twin Wasp is a 14 cylinder, twin row radial piston engine driving three blade variable pitch propellers.

Wright R-2600 Cyclone 14

The Wright R-2600 Cyclone 14 was a radial engine developed in America by Curtiss-Wright. It was widely used in aircraft manufactured in the 1930/40's. It was a  two-row engine with a total of 14 cylinders in two rows of 7.

This was installed in the Boeing 314, Grumman TBM/TBF Avenger, North American B-25 Mitchell, and some models of the Douglas A-20 Havoc (RAF Boston).

The Boeing 314 Clipper was a long-range flying boat produced by the Boeing Airplane Company between 1938 and 1941.

Turbomeca Turmo III C4

Conceived in 1959, this turboshaft is first to use the principle of free-turbine.  This powerful helicopter engine is the powerplant of the Super-Frelon and Puma large sized helicopters.

Standard Specifications

1st produced 1963

Weight - 225 kg to 300 kg

Speed - 32200-32600 tr/mn

Power - 1340 CV

Bristol Siddeley
Sapphire Turbojet

The Saphire was a well-proven turbojet in the 8,000 lb (3,630kg) to 11,000 lb (4,990kg) thrust class and was produced in large quantities.  It was the largest turbojet developed by the then Armstrong Siddeley.  In the United Kingdom it was in service with the Royal Air Force on the Handley Page Victor B Mk1 bombers, all marks of the Gloster Javelin all weather fighter and also on the Hawker Hunter Mks 2 and 5 fighters.  Well over 12,000 Saphires were built under license in the United States of America as the Wright J65.  In service, the Saphire proved to be robust and reliable, with excellent handling qualities.
The Saphire turbojet exhibited in the Malta Aviation Museum was originally on a Gloster Javellin, which was striken of charge after a ground accident.  The same engine was removed from the damaged aircraft by Mr. Antony Polidano and presented to a local Training College.  Eventually it was donated to the Malta Aviation Museum where it was restored to its present state.

Napier Gazelle

The Napier Gazelle is a helicopter engine and was the first British designed turboshaft engine to enter service in the mid 50's. It was Napier's main engine for military production and it powered the Bristol Belvedere twin rotor and the early Westland Wessex helicopters. It was eventually superceded by the Bristol Siddeley Gnome and production ceased in 1962 when taken over by Rolls-Royce.

The exhibit came from the Umberto Calosso Trade School which closed down. The engine was dismantled and the compressor and combustion unit were sectioned (cutaway) to display the inside of the engine.

Bristol Siddeley
BE.26 Orpheus

The Bristol Siddeley Orpheus started as a private venture by Bristol Engine Company in 1953.  It first ran in December 1954 at a trust of 3,000lb and was certified at 3285lb.  The Orpheus first flew in 1955 powering a Folland Gnat. The Orpheus was selected by all contenders for the NATO fighter competition, a development that was funded by NATO itself, and the Orpheus powered the Fiat G91 (another exhibit in the Museum) which was the declared winner.  This resulted in FIAT building the Orpheus under license in Italy.
The engine exhibited is a single shaft, axial flow Bristol Orpheus BE26 turbojet, which developed a power of 4520 lb (20.1kn) and weighs 920 lb. It has a diameter of 32.4 inches and length of 75.5 inches. It was acquired from England and intersected and painted in a way to enable visitors to understand how air flows inside this turbojet.  The Orpheus powered various famous jet age aircraft including the Folland Gnat Mk1, the Fiat G.91, Fuji T.1A, Hunting 126, Lockheed Jetstar 1, Hundustan HF.24 Marut, Short SB5 and as a booster engine for the Fairchild C-119 Packet.

Rolls-Royce Derwent 8

The Rolls-Royce Derwent is a 1940s British centrifugal compressor turbojet engine. The Derwent was the second jet engine design to be put into production by Rolls-Royce. Essentially an improved version of the Rolls-Royce Welland, itself a renamed version of Frank Whittle's Power Jets W.2B, Rolls inherited the design from Rover when they took over their jet engine development in 1943. The performance over the original W.2B design was somewhat improved, reliability dramatically, making the Derwent the chosen engine for the Gloster Meteor and many other post-World War II British jet designs. Two Rolls Royce Derwent 8 turbojets powered the Gloster Meteors, two examples of which are exhibited at the Malta Aviation Museum.

Rolls-Royce Gnome

This helicopter turboshaft engine owes its origins to the de Havilland Aircraft Co. Ltd. when it licensed production of the General Electric T58, designed in the mid 50's. They produced a British version which first ran on 5 Jume 1959. Eventually, after a number of mergers it was acquired by Rolls-Royce. What was unusual about the design of the engine was that despite its small size it used an axial flow design which meant that the final stage compressor rotor blades were among the smallest ever manufactured. Through development the power was increased with a 2 stage turbine from 1050 shp (shaft horse power) to 1720 shp. It also used its own analogue computer to control the fuel flow to prevent engine surges.

It was used on the:

  • Westland Whirlwind

  • Wessex

  • Sea King

The engine was donated to the Museum by Davis Dalton who discovered and acquired it in the UK.

Rolls-Royce Avon

The Avon was the first Rolls-Royce engine to have an axial flow design. Started in the late 1940's the first production model was delivered in 1950. Different models were used in several successful military and civilian aircraft. It was also used as a stationary power source mainly in the oil industry.

The engine on display has been sectioned (cutaway) to show the internal components and used by the RAF for instructional purposes when they were in Malta. It was eventually donated to the Museum where it was refurbished.

Aircraft powered by the Avon:

  • de Havilland Comet

  • de Havilland Sea Vixen

  • English Electric Canberra

  • English Electric Lightning

  • Fairey Delta

  • Hawker Hunter

  • Sud-Aviation Caravelle

  • Supermarine Swift

  • Vickers Valiant

Turbomeca Arriel

Since its launch in 1977, there have been 28 different versions of the Arriel, powering 28 different light and medium helicopter types. Today, there are two basic variants in Turbomeca’s Arriel family: Arriel 1 and Arriel 2. Takeoff power ranges from 700 to 950 shp. The 6,000th Arriel was delivered in 2005, and the 10,000 was delivered in 2011. New versions are currently being developed with production and sales still on the rise. This figure represents a unique success story in the industry, boosting the Arriel to the position of world leader in its category.

With over 60% global market share in its power segment, the Arriel engine has been significantly contributing to the helicopter industry. Amongst them: the Eurocopter Ecureuil, AS350B3e, Dauphin, EC130, EC145, EC145T2 and EC155, the Sikorsky S-76 and the Agusta A109 K2, as well as the AVIC AC312 and AC311

This engine was donated to the Museum by Medavia of Safi, Malta.

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