Merlin Engines

Power Behind The Spitfire

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These objects are parts from a Rolls-Royce Merlin Engine. Sections have been cut away to reveal the inner workings.

The Merlin Engine

The Merlin was designed and built by Rolls-Royce. These powerful and reliable engines were fitted to many Second World War aircraft including the Avro Lancaster, Hawker Hurricane and the Supermarine Spitfire. Over 150,000 Merlin engines were built.

Other companies were licensed to build Merlins in order to meet demand. The Merlin 266 engine in our Spitfire was made in the United States by the Packard Motor Car Company.

The Merlin design was developed and improved many times between 1933 and 1950.

These parts are from the Merlin ‘60 series’ which introduced a two-stage, two-speed supercharger.

Sections have been cut away so you can see inside. The engine burns air and fuel in the cylinders. The expansion of the burning air and fuel moves pistons up and down, which turn the crankshaft, which spins the propeller. A supercharger compresses the air before it enters the cylinders, increasing the amount of oxygen in each power stroke, and reducing the effects of altitude on the engine’s performance.

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More resources on the powerhouse behind the Spitfire.

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