The Engine That Won World War II

YouTube / Jay Leno's Garage

Jay Leno believes that the Rolls-Royce Merlin is the greatest piston aircraft engine ever built – and he’s not all talk either. The television host owns several blueprints, books, manuals, and also owns two cars powered by a Merlin. However, what he’s really excited about is the new addition to his garage: a Packard-built Rolls-Royce Merlin engine with the designation V-1650-1. But why do most people love the Merlin?

Simply put, the Merlin was a crucial invention that helped the Allies secure their victory during World War II.

Powered The Legends

This engine powered some of the most iconic Allied aircraft of the war. The over-40-long list includes the Supermarine Spitfires, Hawker Hurricanes, de Havilland Mosquitos, Avro Lancasters, and the P-51 Mustang.

It was an incredibly powerful engine at the time, giving Allied aircraft a significant performance advantage over their Axis counterparts. 

Impact On Battles

The Merline played a huge role in the Battle of Britain. Spitfires and Hurricanes, powered by the Rolls-Royce engine, were instrumental in repelling the Luftwaffe during the attack. It is believed by many that the Merlins’ additional provided power, agility, and reliability during that time were necessary for Britain to achieve air superiority over the German forces.

Underrated Versatility

One of the key strengths of the Merlin was its versatility. Its capability to power a wide variety of Allied aircraft meant that more planes could benefit from its features – and it did just that. 

The Avro Lancaster, for example, was powered by four Merlin engines and was also one of the most effective bombers of the war. The power and reliability of the engines were more than enough to let the Lancaster carry heavy bomb loads over long distances without any problems.

The de Havilland Mosquito, which is a fraction of the Lancaster’s size, is also fitted with a Merlin and was a highly-respected bomber, night fighter, and reconnaissance aircraft during the conflict.