Aero Engine Production - The Lidcombe Engine Plant


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Images of the Lidcombe Engine Plant
Factory View

Left: A view of the Engine Plant


Right: The Multi-spindle Machine

Factory Multi-Spindle Machine
Factory Engine Assembly

Assembly of engines on the Production Line

Factory Engine Assembly
The Engines Produced in Australia
Australia has produced in quantities three types of aero-engine - the Pratt and Whitney single and twin row Wasp radial engines and the De Havilland Gipsy Major in‑line engine - and is, at present, engaged in the production of Rolls-Royce Merlin engines.
The first aero-engines made in Australia were the 650 h.p. 9-cylinder single row Wasps, manufactured by the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation under licence from the Pratt and Whitney Corporation in USA and installed in Wirraway aircraft. In all, the Company made 680 of these engines.
Single-Row Wasp
Double-Row Wasp

When the Beaufort project was launched, if was decided that facilities should be established for the production in Australia of suitable engines. When the supply of Taurus engines from England became impossible because of war conditions, the aircraft was redesigned to take the more powerful twin row Wasp, and the Australian engine factory was consequently planned to produce that type.

As the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation was the only Australian organisation experienced in the manufacture of high-powered aero engines, that Company was invited by the Commonwealth Government to design, build and equip a suitable factory at Lidcombe, near Sydney, and, later, to conduct the factory as a Government annexe for the production of 14-cylinder 1,200 h.p. twin row radial air-cooled Wasp engines. The Manager of the factory is Mr JN Kirby.

By July 1945, the programme of 870 engines had been completed, together with large quantities of space parts both for the R.A.A.F. and the U.S. Army Air Forces. Because the capacity for the production of airframes outstripped the engine production, if was necessary to supplement Australian manufacture by the importation of more than 1,000 engines during 1942 and 1943 to enable the production schedules for Beaufort and Boomerang aircraft to be met.

Production of Gipsy Major engines for installation in Tiger Moth and De Havilland Dragon aircraft manufactured by De Havilland Aircraft Pty. Ltd was undertaken by General Motors-Holden's Ltd and 1,300 of these 130 h.p. four-cylinder invented in-line air-cooled engines were delivered between September 1940, and March 1944.
Gypsy Major
Rolls Royce Merlin

As Wasp engines were not required for the types of aircraft authorised for production in Australia from 1943 on - the Beaufighter with Hercules engines and the Lancaster, Mustang and Mosquito with Merlin engines it was decided that the Lidcombe engine factory would be converted from Wasp engine production to the manufacture of Rolls-Royce Merlin engines.

This is at present being done in anticipation of the first Merlin engines being delivered from the factory before the end of 1946.