Gnome Rotary Engine


The Gnome engine, first introduced in 1913, was a type of rotary engine. Rotary engines differed from other engines by having the crankshaft attached to the aircraft itself with the crankcase and cylinders rotating with the propeller. Gnome engines powered many of the early fighter airplanes involved in aerial battles known as “dogfights.” The Gnome was one of several rotary engines popular on fighter planes during World War I. Rotary engines proved harmful to the structure of the plane. As a result, Gnome engines were replaced in the 1920s with newer radial and inline engines.

Engine Specifications

  • Type: Rotary monosoupape (one valve)
  • Horsepower: 160 horsepower @ 1,350 revolutions per minute (RPM)
  • Cylinders: 9
  • Displacement: 970 cubic inches
  • Weight: 290 pounds
  • Fuel type: 40-50 octane
  • Lubrication: Castor oil
  • First introduced: 1913

Engine on loan from Virginia Tech