Rolls-Royce “Merlin” V-1650-3 Engine
(built under license by Packard Motor Car Company, USA)
Displacement: 1,649 cubic inches
Horsepower: 1,200 at 3,000 rpm
Variants used in:
Supermarine “Spitfire” (Britain)
Boulton-Paul “Defiant” (Britain)
Hawker “Hurricane” (Britain)
North American P-51 Mustang (USA)
The earliest ancestor of the Merlin family of engines was the 225-horsepower V-12 Rolls-Royce “Eagle,” produced in 1915 for the British military. The Eagle was used throughout the First World War and in aircraft designed for the 1929 Schneider Trophy Speed Competition.
The Rolls-Royce V-12s progressed through many improvements to become the “Merlin I” in 1935. The early Merlins were used by the British Royal Air Force in the Hawker Hurricane and Supermarine Spitfire. Their success led to supercharged versions that offered even higher performance, and at higher altitudes.
In 1940, the Packard Motor Car Company of Warren, Ohio (USA) negotiated a licensing agreement with Rolls Royce to produce 23 different models of their Merlin aircraft engines. The marriage of the North American P-51 Mustang airframe and the Packard Merlin engine, in 1942, created the most successful fighter aircraft of World War II. Long-range Merlin-powered P-51s escorted Allied bombers and helped the Allies achieve complete air superiority in Europe by mid-1944.
The EAA Museum’s two 12-cylinder Rolls-Royce V-1615-1 “Merlin” engines are located in the Eagle Hangar’s Engine Shop exhibit. Both were built under license by the Packard Motor Company.