Green Engine Co

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The Green Engine Co was a British engine company founded by Gustavus Green in Bexhill to sell engines of his design. He flourished especially as a designer of aeroplane engines during the first two decades of the 20th century. The engines were actually manufactured by the Aster Engineering Company.


The firm produced a range of water-cooled, mostly inline engines up to about 1915. Green's engines powered many pioneering British aircraft, including those of Alliott Verdon Roe (Avro founder), Samuel Cody and the Short Brothers. They had several advanced features in common; cast steel single-piece cylinders and cylinder heads, two valves per cylinder driven by an overhead camshaft, white metal crankshaft bearings and copper and rubber-sealed water jackets.[1][2] Manufacture was at the Aster Engineering Company of Wembley. (Mention in H Penrose book The Pioneer Years says there was a factory in Twickenham)? When the Great War of 1914–18 broke out in Europe the company was known for its motorcycle engines and particularly associated with "pannier honeycomb" radiator design[3] but was already involved in aero-engine design. In 1909 the Green C.4 had been the only motor to complete the tests for the Patrick Alexander Competition but was not awarded the prize of £1,000, rather controversially, because the rules called for a 35 horsepower engine while the C.4 only averaged 31.5 horsepower.[4] The competition was re-run the following year for more powerful engines: this time Green's gained the prize with the D.4.[5] Up to 1912 Green's were the only source of all-British aircraft engines capable of producing 60 h.p., and so the only choice when prizes were offered for all-British aircraft. The best known case is Moore-Brabazon's winning the £1,000 Daily Mail prize for a circular 1-mile flight by a British pilot in an all-British aeroplane in his Green D.4 powered Short Biplane No. 2 in 1910.[1]

In 1914 the company was awarded a £5,000 prize by the Army Council in a Naval and Military Aeroplane Engine Competition[6] for their Green 100-h.p. water-cooled six-cylinder "Engine No. 1", which was judged to possess the highest number of attributes desirable in an aeroplane engine.[6][7] It was designed to deliver maximum power at low speed and weighed 442 lb.

Green's continued to design motorcycle engines too, using cylinders similar to, though smaller than, those on their prize-winning aero-engine, having similar rubber-sealed copper jackets and removable overhead valve mechanisms designed to protect the cylinders from damage by broken valves, and forced lubrication throughout.[3] In 1914, Motor Cycle magazine reported[8] on a Zenith motorcycle supplied with the 'new' 964cc (8HP) V-twin Green engine, of 85mm bore and stroke. One interesting detail seen on many modern motorcycles was 'the fitting of a glass window in the crank case to show the level of the oil'.

Aircraft engines[edit]

Data from Gunston 1986, p. 72 and Lumsden 1994, pp. 154–6

  • V-8, 100 hp (1908–1909)
  • Green C.4 4-cylinder inline, 105 mm bore × 120mm stroke, 30–35 hp (1908–1910)
  • Green D.4 4-cylinder inline, 140 mm bore × 146 mm stroke, 50–60 hp (1909–1910)
  • 6-cylinder inline, 140 mm bore × 146 mm stroke, 82 hp (1912–1916)
  • Green E.6 6-cylinder inline, 140 mm bore × 152 mm stroke, 90–100 hp (1912–1916)[9]
  • 6-cylinder inline, E.6 development, 140 mm bore × 152 mm stroke, 120 hp[10]
  • V-12, 275 hp (1914–1915)

Applications (grouped by engine power)[edit]

Source:Goodall & Tagg 2001




The Defender II a 1909 racing boat owned by Fred May was powered by a 60 hp Green aeroplane engine.[15] In World War I, the well made, reliable but heavy (450 lbs or 204 kg) 82 hp Green inline engine was produced for fast boats rather than aircraft.[1]



  1. ^ a b c Gunston 1986, p. 72
  2. ^ Lumsden 1994, pp. 154–6
  3. ^ a b Anon, The Motorcycle, no. 695, Volume 13, 29 October 1914, page 482
  4. ^ ...results of the Alexander Competition, Flight 14 January 1911
  5. ^ Olympia show preview 1913 Flight 8 February 1913
  6. ^ a b "Aeroplane Engine Tests. Army Council Awards.". News. The Times (40667). London. 16 October 1914. col G, p. 10. 
  7. ^ Flight 23 October 1914 p.1062 states that the prize was awarded to the 120 h.p. engine, a refinement of the 100 h.p. model, unlike "The Motorcyclist"
  8. ^ "An 8 h.p. Twin-cylinder Zenith-Green",Motor Cycle, 20 August 1914, p248
  9. ^ Jane 1969, p. 3c
  10. ^ Flight 23 October 1914 p.1062
  11. ^ Barnes 1967, p.52
  12. ^ a b Bruce 1992, p. 260
  13. ^ Barnes 1987, p. 64
  14. ^ Lewis 1962, p. 476
  15. ^ "The Motor-Boats at Monaco". Sport. The Times (39242). London. 9 April 1910. col C, p. 18. 


  • Bartley, L.J. (1971). The History of Bexhill. p. 94 – first successful British aero engine.
  • Bruce, J.M. (1992). The Aeroplanes of the Royal Flying Corps (2nd ed.). London: Putnam Publishing. ISBN 0-85177-854-2. 
  • Barnes, C.H.; James, D. N. (1987). Handley Page Aircraft since 1907. London: Putnam Publishing. ISBN 0-85177-803-8. 
  • Barnes, C.H. (1967). Shorts Aircraft Since 1900. London: Putnam P. 
  • Goodall, Michael H.; Tagg, Albert E. (2001). British Aircraft before the Great War. Atglen, PA, USA: Schiffer Publishing Ltd. ISBN 0-7643-1207-3. 
  • Gunston, Bill (1986). World Encyclopedia of Aero Engines. Wellingborough: Patrick Stephens. p. 72. 
  • Jane, Fred T. (1969). Jane's All the World's Aircraft 1913. London: David & Charles. ISBN 07153 4388 2. 
  • Lewis, Peter (1962). British Aircraft 1809–1914. London: Putnam Publishing. 
  • Lumsden, Alec (1994). British Piston Aero-engines and their Aircraft. Shrewsbury: Airlife. ISBN 1-85310-294-6. 
  • "... Results of the Alexander Competition.". Flight. No. 8 January 1911. p. 58. 
  • "Preview of the 1913 Olympia Show.". Flight. No. 18 February 1913. p. 151. 

External links[edit]