The aircraft engine factories

Between 1908 and the start of the First World War a number of engine manufacturers were active:

 

  • FIAT (Corso Dante 30-35) which in 1907 began designing the “sa 8/75”, an experimental 3 litre v-8 engine for aircraft use. This developed 50 hp at 2,000 rpm. The production of this engine, as a aircraft power unit, began in 1908 in the newly formed fiat avio (which in 2008 celebrated its centenary) and was presented at the December 1908 Aeronautical Exposition in Paris. Many different engines followed this one, culminating in the fiat a.10 of 1914, the first ever mass-produced aircraft engine (more than 1.000 were built). Other, ever more powerful engines followed, such as the a.12 of 250 hp, the a.12 bis, of 300 hp, the a.14 of 600 hp, which was later developed to 900 hp. As previously mentioned it was only in 1914 that fiat, via sia began to produce aircraft under licence from Farman.

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  • SPA  (Società Ligure Piemontese Automobili) with headquarters in Torino Corso Ferrucci 122, in the beginning was set up to produce automobile engines.

Founded in 1906 by Michele Ansaldi and Matteo Ceirano (not to be confused with his brother Giovanni Battista, founder of the well-known “Ceirano” car company) spa counted among its collaborators Engineer Aristide Faccioli (see p. 17) who convinced Ceirano of the importance of aeronautical science that was currently emerging all across Europe.

Thus, beginning from 1908, a series of aviation engine designs were built, starting from those used by Faccioli to power his four versions, namely the 80 hp “Faccioli 1” 4-cylinder, 8-piston engine, the 25 hp “Faccioli 2” single cylinder with two pistons, the 50 hp “Faccioli 3” 8-cylinder 8-piston, and the “Faccioli 4” an 8-cylinder 8-piston engine of 80/100 hp.

40 Manifesto SPA

Thus, beginning from 1908, a series of aviation engine designs were built, starting from those used by Faccioli to power his four versions, namely the 80 hp “Faccioli 1” 4-cylinder, 8-piston engine, the 25 hp “Faccioli 2” single cylinder with two pistons, the 50 hp “Faccioli 3” 8-cylinder 8-piston, and the “Faccioli 4” an 8-cylinder 8-piston engine of 80/100 hp.
Spa also produced an 80 hp, 10-cylinder fixed star engine, and a water-cooled 8-cylinder 100 hp “V” and an in-line 6-cylinder 205 hp engine, both of which were water cooled.
Spa’s engine-building activities also extended into the field of engines for airships, and in 1908 they produced a 35/40 hp 4-cylinder water-cooled engine mounted by Count Almerico da Schio on the airship “Italy”.
Spa was therefore the Italian company which built, not only the first aircraft engine, but also the first airship engine, both of which were actually tested in flight.
In 1909-1910 a 35/40 hp engine was produced and installed on Nico Piccoli’s airship “Ausonia” followed by an 80/100 hp four-cylinder, which like its predecessors was water-cooled. This was installed on the Usuelli-Borsalino airship built by the Miller Workshops.
In 1916, spa produced the engine that became one of the most famous in the aviation italian world of the time, the spa 6a of 220/230 hp, initially installed on the sva built by Engineers Savoy and Verduzio and then, during the war, produced on a large scale in over 3,000 units.
The spa 6a engines, installed in the famous sva biplanes (Savoia Verduzio Ansaldo), were protagonists of D’Annunzio’s flight over Vienna in 1918 and the Rome-Tokyo flight by Arturo Ferrarin in 1920, as well as countless aerospace exploits worldwide in the postwar period.
At the end of the war, spa almost completely stopped production of engines for aviation and was later taken over by fiat.

 

  • ITALA another Turin auto company, (perhaps most famous for the car which won the epic 1907 Peking-Paris overland race) in 1909 at its Corso Orbassano premises developed a water-cooled 65 hp engine, derived from a suitably lightened car engine. This was installed in a Voisin biplane which took part in the Circuit racing at Reims flown by the Frenchman Fournier.

The Itala 65 hp was thus almost certainly the first Italian aircraft engine installed in a foreign aircraft. During the years of the Great War, Itala licence-built the 150, 180, 200 and 220 hp Hispano-Suiza engines mounted in the spad (Societé Pour les Avions Deperdussin) fighters used by almost all the Allied Air Aces, including that of the renowned Italian ace Francesco Baracca.

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The Itala 65 hp was thus almost certainly the first Italian aircraft engine installed in a foreign aircraft. During the years of the Great War, Itala licence-built the 150, 180, 200 and 220 hp Hispano-Suiza engines mounted in the spad (Societé Pour les Avions Deperdussin) fighters used by almost all the Allied Air Aces, including that of the renowned Italian ace Francesco Baracca.

 

  • The company known as LUCT was set up in 1911 in Turin in Via Cavalli by its partners Ladetto, Ubertalli and Cavalchini (of Turin), and began the manufacture of a 50/70 bhp, 7-cylinder rotary engine designed by Engineer Cavalchini. Testing was completed in 1912.

It would be the only Italian rotary engine capable of competing with the well-known “Gnôme”.
This engine, installed on a Farman, allowed the pilot, Mario Cobianchi, to set an Italian record with a flight lasting 2h 18’ 40” on August 16, 1912 at Mirafiori.

42 Motore Luct

Luct then went on to produce a series of 80/100 hp 9-cylinder rotary engines.
The curious pecularities of luct engines were that although they had two valves for each cylinder, these were operated by a single cam and the operating cycle was 6-stroke, since two strokes were used as cleaning strokes to improve internal engine cooling.
The engine was later installed on an Asteria 4 and officially presented to the technicians of the Aviation Battalion of Turin hoping to get an order from the military, but without success.
At the Air Force Exposition of May 1913, held in Turin, luct presented three types of engines, of 50, 80, and 100 hp with good results. Among others, they succeeded in obtaining several orders for 80 hp engines which were exported to Brazil for installation in the aircraft “Enea Bossi” and “Wolsit Jacchia”. Despite this, however, the company was wound up and ceased production in 1915.

 

  • SIMGER (Società Italiana Motori Gnôme and Rhône) of Engineer Maffei. This factory, in Strada Venaria 73, produced engines under licence from Gnôme.
    During the years of the Great War, Gnôme engines were the most used by almost all the European aircraft constructors and represented the greater part of the rotary engines used by the Italian Air Force.

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  • SCAT Società Ceirano Automobili Torino). During the war, similar to Itala, they produced a number of 150, 180, 200 and 220 hp Hispano-Suiza engines under licence for spad.
  • AQUILA founded by Engineer Annovazzi, produced the 130 hp Salmson engines under licence for use in the sit-Voisin and the Saml-Aviatik.
  • SINDACATO MOTORI DEL PO proposed a most original rotary 6-cylinder two-stroke Garuffa engine in 1914.
  • ING. KIND PAOLO & C.with offices in Corso Dante 38 and a workshop in Via Ormea 142.
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  • DIATTO (Società Anonima Automobili Diatto) , produced about 100 Isotta Fraschini v6 aircraft engines and a limited number of 8-cylinder Bugatti engines under licence during the period 1917-18.
  • CIGALA,BARBERIS e RUVA (via Bellini 3).
  • FABBRICA MOTORI PER AVIAZIONE FEA E VISCONTI (via Pinelli 6).
  • LANCIA(Via Monginevro 101) apart from a few one-off prototypes, also manufactured a single type of 250 hp 12-cylinder water-cooled engine in 1915 for installation of Caproni aircrafts ca37 e ca38. Increased in output to 320 hp, it was also presented in the United States where it was warmly received by technicians, but achieved little commercial interest, leading to its development being abandoned.





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