Rolls-Royce Avon

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Rolls-Royce Avon GG.jpg
Rolls-Royce Avon
Type Turbojet
National origin United Kingdom
Manufacturer Rolls-Royce
First run Spring 1946
Major applications English Electric Canberra
English Electric Lightning
Vickers Valiant
Hawker Hunter
Saab 35 Draken
Number built >11,000

The Rolls-Royce Avon was the first axial flow jet engine designed and produced by Rolls-Royce. Intended as a jet successor to the Merlin, introduced in 1950 it went on to become one of their most successful post-World War II engine designs. It was used in a wide variety of aircraft, both military and civilian, as well as versions for stationary and maritime power.

An English Electric Canberra powered by two Avons made the first un-refuelled non-stop transatlantic flight by a jet, and a BOAC de Havilland Comet 4 powered by four Avons made the first scheduled transatlantic crossing by a jet airliner.

Production of the Avon aero engine version ended after 24 years in 1974.[1]

The current version of the Avon, the Avon 200, is an industrial gas generator that is rated at 21-22,000shp. As of 2011, 1,200 Industrial Avons have been sold, and the type has established a 60,000,000 hour record for its class.[2]

Design and development[edit]

The Avon design team was headed by Cyril Lovesey, who had previously been in charge of Merlin development. The engine was intended both as an experiment in axial-flow engines, as well as (if successful) a replacement for the 5,000 lbf (22 kN) Nene. Originally known as the AJ.65 for Axial Jet, 6,500 lbf which was originally designed by Alan Arnold Griffith,[1] the engine developed as a single-spool design with an eight, later 10 stage compressor, mass flow rate of 150 lb/s (68 kg/s) and a pressure ratio of 7.45. Development started in 1945 and the first prototypes were built in 1947. Introduction was somewhat slowed by a number of minor problems. The first Avons to fly were two Avon RA.2s in the converted Lancastrian military serial VM732, which flew from Hucknall on August 15, 1948.

Initially a private venture for the company, government backing was forthcoming around the time of the first prototypes.[3]

The modifications and improvements introduced to the Avon 200 series were considerable, resulting in a completely different engine with very little in common with the early Marks. Despite this, the name Avon was retained. Differences included a completely new combustion section, a 15 stage compressor based on that of the Armstrong-Siddeley Sapphire, as well as other improvements.[1]

Operational history[edit]

A Mark 122 - The rear fuselage of the Hawker Hunter can be removed for engine maintenance

The engine eventually entered production in 1950, the original RA.3/Mk.101 version providing 6,500 lbf (29 kN) thrust in the English Electric Canberra B.2.[1] Similar versions were used in the Canberra B.6, Hawker Hunter and Supermarine Swift. Uprated versions soon followed, the RA.7/Mk.114 producing 7,350 lbf (32,700 N) in the de Havilland Comet C.2, the RA.14/Mk.201 of 9,500 lbf (42 kN) in the Vickers Valiant and the RA.26 of 10,000 lbf (44 kN) used in the Comet C.3 and Hawker Hunter F.6. An Avon-powered de Havilland Comet 4 flew the first scheduled transatlantic jet service in 1958. The line eventually topped out with the 12,690 lbf (56,450 N) and 16,360 lbf (72,770 N) in afterburner RA.29 Mk.301/2 (RB.146) used in later versions of the English Electric Lightning. Other aircraft to use the Avon included the de Havilland Sea Vixen, Supermarine Scimitar and Fairey Delta.

The Avon was also produced under licence by Svenska Flygmotor as the RA.3/Mk.109 as the RM5, and an uprated RA.29 as the RM6 with 17,110 lbf (76,110 N). The RM5 powered the Saab Lansen, while the RM6 was the main powerplant of the SAAB Draken and night fighter version of the Lansen.

Production was also carried out in Belgium by Fabrique Nationale, including 300 Avon 113s, and a larger number of Avon 203s.[4]

In the US, the Avon was used to power the vertical landing Ryan X-13 Vertijet aircraft (in RA.28-49 form).

In Australia, the Avon was used by Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation to power its heavily modified variant of the F-86 Sabre, known as the CA-27 Avon-Sabre.

The Avon continued production, mostly for the use in the Sud Aviation Caravelle and English Electric (BAC) Lightning, until 1974, by which time over 11,000 had been built. The engine garnered an impressive safety record over that time. The Avon remained in operational service with the RAF, powering the English Electric Canberra PR.9, until 23 June 2006.

Intended replacement for the Avon - and interchangeable with it - was the Rolls-Royce RB106.[5]


Rolls Royce Avon RA.3 Mk.101 at RAF Museum Cosford
The original designation, standing for Axial Jet 6,500 lbs thrust
Prototype engines for testing and development.
Pre-production engines for testing. 6,000 lbf (26.69 kN)
Civil designation for the first Avon production mark - 6,500 lbf (28.91 kN).
Civil designation for the uprated version of the Avon. - 7,350 lbf (32.69 kN).
The RA.7 with reheat
Civil designation for the uprated version of the Avon with can-annular combustion chamber and Sapphire style compressor - 9,500 lbf (42.26 kN).
8,050 lbf (35.81 kN) Production engine developed from the RA.7.
Civil Mk.503
Further improvements to the Avon 200 series - Civil Mk.521
Second generation variant 10,000 lbf (44.48 kN)
Civil designation for the Mk.300 series (used by the Sud Aviation Caravelle)
Mk.100 series
Military designation for the RA.3 Avon - 6,500 lbf (28.91 kN).
Military designation for the RA.7 Avon - 7,350 lbf (32.69 kN).
Mk.200 series
Military designation for the uprated version of the Avon with can-annular combustion chamber and Sapphire style compressor - 9,500 lbf (42.26 kN).
Mk.300 series
Developed after-burning engines for the English Electric Lightning.
RB.146 Mk.301:The ultimate Military Avon for the English Electric Lightning - 12,690 lbf (56.45 kN) dry, 16,360 lbf (72.77 kN) wet.
RB.146 Mk.302:Essntially similar to the Mk.301
Avon 504
Civilian equivalent to military Mk.200 variants.
Avon 506
Civilian equivalent to military Mk.200 variants.
Avon 522
Civilian equivalent to military Mk.200 variants.
Avon 524
Civilian equivalent to military Mk.200 variants.
Avon 524B
Civilian equivalent to military Mk.200 variants.
Avon 525
Civilian equivalent to military Mk.200 variants.
Avon 525B
Civilian equivalent to military Mk.200 variants.
Avon 527
Civilian equivalent to military Mk.200 variants.
Avon 527B
Civilian equivalent to military Mk.200 variants.
Avon 531
Civilian equivalent to military Mk.200 variants.
Avon 531B
Civilian equivalent to military Mk.200 variants.
Avon 532R
Civilian equivalent to military Mk.200 variants.
Avon 532R-B
Civilian equivalent to military Mk.200 variants.
Avon 533R
Civilian equivalent to military Mk.200 variants.
Avon 533R-11A
Civilian equivalent to military Mk.200 variants.
Svenska Flygmotor RM5
Licence production of the RA.3/Mk.109 for the Saab 32 Lansen
Svenska Flygmotor RM6
Uprated RA.29/Mk.300 for the Saab Draken
Westinghouse XJ54
Avon 300-series scaled-down by Westinghouse to 105 lb/sec airflow to produce 6,200 lb thrust.[6]


Military aviation[edit]

Civil aviation[edit]

Other uses[edit]

  • The Avon is also currently marketed as a compact, high reliability, stationary power source. As the AVON 1533, it has a maximum continuous output of 21,480 shp (16.02 MW) at 7,900 rpm and a thermal efficiency of 30%.[citation needed] In 1982, an Avon engine on gas pumping duty in a Canadian installation ran for 53,000 hours before requiring a major overhaul.[citation needed] In 1994, another industrial Avon engine ran non-stop for 476 days (11,424 hours).[citation needed]
  • As a compact electrical generator, the type EAS1 Avon based generator can generate a continuous output of 14.9 MW.[citation needed]
  • On 4 October 1983, Richard Noble's Thrust2 vehicle, powered by a single Rolls-Royce Avon 302 jet engine, set a new land-speed record of 1,019.46 km/h (633.46 mph) at the Black Rock Desert in Nevada.
  • Jetblack (Landspeed record contender, announced in October 2011 and planned for 2012).


Engines on display[edit]

  • A Mk 524 Avon has been restored at the National Air Museum in Moron, Argentina and is now on display


Specifications (Avon 301R)[edit]

Data from [13]

General characteristics

  • Type: Turbojet
  • Length: 126 in (3,200 mm)
  • Diameter: 35.7 in (907 mm)
  • Dry weight: 2,890 lb (1,310 kg)


  • Compressor: 15-stage axial flow
  • Combustors: Cannular, 150 lb/s (68 kg/s)
  • Turbine: Two-stage axial flow
  • Fuel type: Kerosene


See also[edit]

Comparable engines
Related lists



  1. ^ a b c d Gunston 1989, p. 149.
  2. ^ "Avon 200". Rolls-Royce. 2013-05-15. Retrieved 2013-06-04. 
  3. ^ Flight 16 December 1955 p901
  4. ^ "hispano suiza | canadian pratt | flight international | 1962 | 1011 | Flight Archive". 1962-06-28. Retrieved 2013-06-04. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ "World Encyclopedia of Aero Engines - 5th edition" by Bill Gunston, Sutton Publishing, 2006
  7. ^ G-INFO Retrieved:27 January 2010
  8. ^ Thunder City - Aircraft Retrieved:27 January 2010
  9. ^ USAF Museum Retrieved: 27 January 2010
  10. ^ Midland Air Museum - Aircraft Retrieved: 27 January 2010
  11. ^ RAF Museum - Rolls-Royce Avon Retrieved: 27 January 2010
  12. ^ RAF Museum - Rolls-Royce Avon Retrieved: 27 January 2010
  13. ^ "Lightning F.6 Avon 301R Specs". 
  14. ^ Avon RB.146 Mk.301


External links[edit]