Wright R-3350 Duplex-Cyclone

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Wright R-3350)
Jump to: navigation, search
R-3350 Duplex-Cyclone
Wright Cyclone GR 3350 1.jpg
Wright R-3350
Type Radial engine
National origin United States
Manufacturer Wright Aeronautical
First run May 1937
Major applications Boeing B-29 Superfortress
Douglas A-1 Skyraider
Lockheed Constellation
Douglas DC-7
Lockheed P-2 Neptune
Developed from Wright R-1820

The Wright R-3350 Duplex-Cyclone was one of the most powerful radial aircraft engines produced in the United States. It was a twin-row, supercharged, air-cooled, radial engine with 18 cylinders. Power ranged from 2,200 to over 3,700 hp (1,640 to 2,760 kW), depending on the model. Developed before World War II, the R-3350's design required a long time to mature before finally being used to power the Boeing B-29 Superfortress. After the war, the engine had matured sufficiently to become a major civilian airliner design, notably in its Turbo-Compound forms. The engine is now commonly used on Hawker Sea Fury and Grumman F8F Bearcat Unlimited Class Racers at the Reno Air Races.

Design and development[edit]

In 1927, Wright Aeronautical introduced its famous "Cyclone" engine, which powered a number of designs in the 1930s. After merging with Curtiss to become Curtiss-Wright in 1929, an effort was started to redesign the engine to the 1,000 hp (750 kW) class. The new Wright R-1820 Cyclone 9 first ran successfully in 1935, and would become one of the most used aircraft engines in the 1930s and World War II, powering all frontline examples (the -C through -G models) of the legendary B-17 Flying Fortress Allied heavy bomber aircraft to serve in the war, each powerplant assisted by a General Electric-designed turbocharger for maximum power output at high altitudes.

At about the same time Pratt & Whitney had started a development of their equally famous Wasp design into a larger and much more powerful twin-row design that would easily compete with this larger Cyclone. In 1935 Wright decided to follow P&W's lead, and started to develop much larger engines based on the mechanics of the Cyclone. The result were two designs with a somewhat shorter stroke, a 14-cylinder design that would evolve into the Wright R-2600, and a much larger 18-cylinder design that became the R-3350. An even larger twin-row 22-cylinder version, the R-4090, was experimented with as a competitor to the P&W R-4360 but was not produced.

The first R-3350 was run in May 1937. Continued development was slow, both due to the complex nature of the engine, as well as the R-2600 receiving considerably more attention. The R-3350 did not fly until 1941, after the prototype Douglas XB-19 had been redesigned from the Allison V-3420 to the R-3350.

Things changed dramatically in 1940 with the introduction of a new contract by the USAAC to develop a long-range bomber capable of flying from the US to Germany with a 20,000 lb (9000 kg) bomb load. Although smaller than the Bomber D designs that led to the B-19, the new designs required roughly the same amount of power. When preliminary designs were returned in the summer of 1940, three of the four designs were based on the R-3350. Suddenly the engine was seen as the future of army aviation, and serious efforts to get the design into production started.

Wright R-3350 Turbo-Compound radial engine. Two exhaust recovery turbines shown outside impellor casing area (top (silver) and lower (red blading)) that are geared to the crankshaft.

By 1943 the ultimate development of the new bomber program, the Boeing B-29 Superfortress, was flying. However the engines remained temperamental, and showed an alarming tendency of the rear cylinders to overheat, partially due to minimal clearance between the cylinder baffles and the cowl. A number of changes were introduced into the aircraft production line in order to provide more cooling at low speeds, with the aircraft rushed into operational use in the Pacific in 1944. This proved unwise, as the early B-29 tactics of maximum weights combined with high temperatures of the tropical airfields where B-29s were based, produced overheating problems that were not completely solved, and the engines had a tendency to swallow their own valves. Because of a high magnesium content in the potentially combustible crankcase alloy, the resulting engine fires - sometimes burning with as high a core temperature approaching 5,600ºF (3,100ºC)[1] from the Duplex Cyclone's magnesium engine crankcase alloys - were often so intense the main spar could burn through in seconds, resulting in catastrophic wing failure.[2]

Early versions of the R-3350 had carburetors, though the poorly designed elbow entrance to the supercharger led to serious problems with fuel/air distribution. Near the end of World War II, the system was changed to use direct injection where fuel was injected directly into the combustion chamber. This change improved engine reliability. After the war the engine was redesigned and became a favorite for large aircraft, notably the Lockheed Constellation and Douglas DC-7.

Following the war the Turbo-Compound[3] system was developed to deliver better fuel efficiency. In these versions, three power-recovery turbines (PRT) were inserted into the exhaust piping of each group of six cylinders and geared to the engine crankshaft by fluid couplings to deliver more power. The PRTs recovered about 20 percent of the exhaust energy (around 450 hp) that would have otherwise been wasted, but reduced engine reliability (Mechanics tended to call them Parts Recovery Turbines, since increased exhaust heat meant a return of the old habit of the engine eating exhaust valves). The fuel burn for the PRT equipped aircraft was nearly the same as the older Pratt and Whitney R-2800, while producing more useful horsepower.[4] Effective 15 October 1957 a DA-3/DA-4 engine cost $88,200.[5]

By this point reliability had improved with the mean time between overhauls at 3,500 hours and specific fuel consumption in the order of 0.4 lb/hp/hour (243 g/kWh, giving it a 34% fuel efficiency). Engines in use now are limited to 52 inches of mercury (1,800 hPa) manifold pressure, being 2,880 hp with 100/130 octane fuel (or 100LL) instead of the 59.5 inHg (2,010 hPa) and 3,400 HP possible with 115/145, or better, octane fuels, which are no longer available since many formulations are toxic to humans.

Several racers at the Reno Air Races use R-3350s. Modifications on one, Rare Bear, include a nose case designed for a slow-turning prop, taken from a R-3350 used on the Lockheed L-1649 Starliner, mated to the power section (crankcase, crank, pistons, and cylinders) taken from a R-3350 used on the Douglas DC-7. The supercharger is taken from a R-3350 used on the Lockheed EC-121 and the engine is fitted with Nitrous Oxide injection. Normal rated power of a stock R-3350 is 2,800 horsepower at 2,600 rpm and 45 inches of manifold pressure. With these modifications, Rare Bear's engine produces 4,000 horsepower at 3,200 rpm and 80 inches of manifold pressure and 4,500 horsepower with Nitrous Oxide injection.[6]

Variants[edit]

Wright R-3350 Turbo-Compound radial engine fitted at the Number Four position on the starboard wing of a Lockheed Super Constellation
  • R-3350-13 : 2,200 hp (1,600 kW)
  • R-3350-23 : 2,200 hp (1,600 kW)
  • R-3350-24W : 2,500 hp (1,900 kW)
  • R-3350-26W : 2,800 hp (2,100 kW)
  • R-3350-32W : 3,700 hp (2,800 kW)
  • R-3350-34 : 3,400 hp (2,500 kW)
  • R-3350-42WA : 3,800 hp (2,830 kW)
  • R-3350-53 : 2,700 hp (2,000 kW)
  • R-3350-57 : 2,200 hp (1,600 kW)
  • R-3350-85 : 2,500 hp (1,900 kW)
  • R-3350-89A : 3,500 hp (2,600 kW)
  • R-3350-93W : 3,500 hp (2,600 kW)

Applications[edit]

Specifications (R-3350-C18-BA)[edit]

A Wright R-3350 radial engine, showing, R to L, propeller shaft, reduction gearcase, magneto (silver) with wiring, two cylinders (rear with connecting rod), impellor casing (and induction pipe outlets) and injection carburetor (black); separate accessory gearbox at extreme left

Data from Jane's.[7]

General characteristics

  • Type: Twin-row 18-cylinder radial engine
  • Bore: 6.125 in (155.6 mm)
  • Stroke: 6.312 in (160.2 mm)
  • Displacement: 3,347 in3 (54.86 L)
  • Length: 76.26 in (1,930 mm)
  • Diameter: 55.78 in (1,420 mm)
  • Dry weight: 2,670 lb (1,212 kg)

Components

  • Valvetrain: Pushrod, two valves per cylinder
  • Supercharger: Two-speed single-stage
  • Fuel system: Chandler-Evans downdraft carburetor
  • Fuel type: 100/130
  • Oil system: Dry sump
  • Cooling system: Air-cooled

Performance

See also[edit]

Related development
Comparable engines
Related lists

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Dreizin, Edward L.; Berman, Charles H. and Vicenzi, Edward P. (2000). "Condensed-phase modifications in magnesium particle combustion in air". Scripta Materialia 122: 30–42. doi:10.1016/S0010-2180(00)00101-2. 
  2. ^ "B-29." fighter-planes.com. Retrieved: 15 September 2011.
  3. ^ Gunston 2006, p. 247.
  4. ^ "The Wright R-3350 Turbo-Compound Engine". Sport Aviation: 20. April 2012. 
  5. ^ American Aviation 4 Nov 1957 p57
  6. ^ Air & Space/Smithsonian The Bear is Back Retrieved 24 September 2011.
  7. ^ Jane's 1998, p. 318

Bibliography[edit]

  • Gunston, Bill. World Encyclopedia of Aero Engines, 5th Edition. Phoenix Mill, Gloucestershire, UK: Sutton Publishing Limited, 2006. ISBN 0-7509-4479-X.
  • Jane's Fighting Aircraft of World War II. London. Studio Editions Ltd, 1998. ISBN 0-517-67964-7.

External links[edit]