Chrysler and the military: Hemi aircraft engines

Chrysler made plane engines through World War II, but though they put in engineering changes for better durability and reliability, they were still basically Wright designs.

crank closeup

The Hemi V8 engines later used in cars, though, owe much of their existence to Chrysler’s wartime work in designing their own, incredibly powerful aircraft engine. The company had never made one before — had never made a V-engine, for that matter, or one with hemispherical heads — but they outperformed themselves with their first effort, which was only rejected because of the development of practical jet engines.

XI-2200 engine

Six or so XI-2200 engines were built, hitting their power target of 2500 horsepower from 2200 cubic inches — in 1944. It was designed to have a turbocharger, but none were available for mass production at the time. Two specially built Republic Thunderbolt XP-47H planes tested the Chrysler 16-cylinder XIV-2220 engines in 1945. It reportedly broke 3,000 horsepower, after going through 27,000 hours of tests with different samples and two different combustion chamber designs. Full story.

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