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The Napier Sabre Aircraft Engine

Major Frank Halford had designed the outstanding Napier Dagger, a revolutionary high reving and smooth running 24 cylinder "H Block" air cooled engine of great compactness, unfortunately cooling had been inadequate and the complicated valve gear unreliable and difficult to access for maintenance, noise had also proofed to be a problem. Frank Halford designed the Napier Sabre to address the shortfalls of his earlier Dagger design.

Napier Sabre Aircraft Engine


He made his new engine water-cooled which rectified the cooling problem and helped reduce some of the noise, he replaced the conventional poppet valves used for both inlet and exhaust with sleeve-valves, this simplified construction and required less maintenance while giving more reliability, noise from the valve gear was also dramatically reduced.

Early Napier Sabre engines easily produced 2,200 horsepower (1,640 kW) and the later Sabre VII achieved 3,500 hp (2,600 kW). It is unfortunate that the arrival of the jet engine rendered such beautiful engine designs obsolete as the last prototypes were producing a phenomenal 5,500 hp (4.100 kW) which equates to 150hp per litre (the P51 Mustang's Packard Merlin achieved 50hp per litre), not that this proved to be a barrier for Frank Halford who went on to design some of the most famous early jet engines notably the de Havilland Goblin and de Havilland Ghost.

Aircraft that were powered by the Napier Sabre

Hawker TempestHawker Typhoon

Napier Sabre VA Specifications:

  • Type: 24-cylinder supercharged liquid-cooled H-type Sleeve valve aircraft piston engine
  • Bore: 5.0 in (127 mm)
  • Stroke: 4.75 in (121 mm)
  • Displacement: 2,240 in³ (36.65 L)
  • Length: 82.25 in (2,089 mm)
  • Width: 40 in (1,016 mm)
  • Height: 46 in (1,168 mm)
  • Dry weight: 2,360 lb (1,070 kg)
  • Supercharger: Torsion shaft drive to gear-driven, single-stage, two-speed centrifugal supercharger
  • Fuel system: Hobson-R.A.E injection-type carburettor
  • Fuel type: 100/130 octane petrol
  • Oil system: High pressure: Oil pump and full flow oil filter with three scavenge pumps
  • Cooling system: Liquid cooled: 70% water and 30% ethylene glycol coolant mixture, pressurised.

Napier Sabre VA Power output:

  • 2,850 hp (2,065 kW) at 3,800 rpm and +13 psi (0.9 bar, 56") intake boost
  • 3,040 hp (2,200 kW) at 4,000 rpm war emergency power
  • Specific power: 1.36 hp/in³ (59.9 kW/L)
  • Compression ratio: 7:1
  • Fuel consumption: 117 gallons/hour (532 L/hr) at maximum cruise, F.S supercharger gear; 241 gallons/hour (1,096 L/hr) at maximum combat power
  • Oil consumption: 47 pints/hour (27 L/hr) at maximum cruise 3,250 rpm and +7 psi (0.48 bar, 14"); 71 pints/hour (40 L/hr) at emergency power
  • Power-to-weight ratio: 1.29 hp/lb (2.06 kW/kg)

    Napier Sabre Aero Engine

    Napier Sabre Aero Engine

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