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The XI-2220 Hemi V-16: first Chrysler engine with a Hemi head design

Retired Chrysler engineer Pete Hagenbuch said while leading a tour of the museum:

If you look at a cutaway of this engine, and you're looking at a cutaway of the 1951 New Yorker engine, you'd think they were brothers, except these were upside down, maybe so they could mount a couple of cannons in the nose. The Messerschmitts had nose cannons, and they were also an inverted V.

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This had all the bells and whistles - fork and blade connecting rods and the big gear tower in the middle, driving the camshafts, driving the output shaft, which drove the magnetos back there, and the propeller.

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There were only about six of them; it was purely a development program. They hit their power target at 2500 hp, with 2200 cubic inches, and that was in 1944. We were already having ME262 jets shooting down our bombers, and it was a waste of further time and money. But Chrysler, being mainly concerned with engineering (as it was through that period), paid Republic Aviation to finish their flight test program in the P47. It was the damnedest-looking P47 you ever saw, if you know what the original was like.

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It was "cost plus," so Chrysler actually made a little money on them, and they also learned how to give them a Hemi chamber, the porting and everything. They learned about safety wiring and how to design the fork and blade connecting rods, and the fork and blade, which is a whole science in itself, in making little tiny bearing inserts, two to a rod, two more to the caps. They learned a lot. A lot of the guys involved in that, went on to greater things later.

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It was designed to have a turbocharger; the engine has a compressor and charge air cooler. The problem would have been, if they ever got to the point where they were going to mass produce it, only General Electric made the turbocharger. Nobody else knew how to make them, and I don't think G.E. was willing to tell anybody else how to make them; they also, apparently, were unwilling or unable to expand their capacity. That explains a lot about World War II aircraft; the Army apparently had first choice of the turbochargers because Navy planes supposedly didn't have to fly at high altitude. [More from Pete on aviation engines is in our museum tour section.]
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Pete Hagenbuch also wrote that Mel Carpentier was head of Engine Design at the time (Carl Breer was Director of Research and would have been involved to some extent); Carpentier continued to run the Hemi V8 car engine program.

The engine was built by "The Motor Room," part of Engine Development and Testing, which was headed by Bill
Drinkard, then Harold Welch, and then by Ev Moeller, who was the manager in early 1956 when Pete arrived on the scene.

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These are many of the people worked on the V16 plane engine, including Carl Breer, near the center (in a suit); George Heubner; Dean Engle, later chief engineer at Dodge and later an engine man at Central Engineering; and Bill Chapman was in charge of testing the later turbine, later becoming head of Ford's turbine truck projects.

Willem Weertman, in his Chrysler Engines book, noted that many of the team members went on to make "significant contributions" at Chrysler. He called out Syd Terry, Robert S. Rarey (later Chief Engineer of Engine Design and Development), R. Dean Engle (to be Chief Engineer at Dodge before succeeding Rarey), Ev Moeller (later assistant to Rarey and Engle), and George Huebner, then Carl Breer's assistant, who would succeed Breer as Director of Research and who would also lead the turbine program. Dyno man Herb Bevans later rose to become Executive Engineer of Powertrain Engineering.

Al Bosley wrote a good deal more about the people involved in the V16 and later turboprop engine projects.

Flight testing results

by Curtis Redgap
and David Zatz

Two specially built Republic Thunderbolt XP-47H planes, with extended noses, were used to test the Chrysler 16-cylinder XIV-2220 engine in 1945. Speed was reportedly below the expected 490 mph, but with jets clearly the technology of the future, the engine was unlikely to see mass production regardless (the project had begun in 1941, well before jets were in use). Internal documents showed the engine beating 3,000 horsepower on the dyno.

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The V-shape was chosen to reduce the length of the crankshaft and the forces on it (it had two crankshafts); the block was a single cast aluminum piece. The engine underwent 27,000 hours of tests with different samples and two different combustion chamber designs. The air tests were delayed due to problems with the Curtis XP-60C, and the P-47 was modified instead. After 18 flight hours, the propeller shaft failed, due, engineers believed, to the sudden application of power from turbocharging. (Thanks, Doug Hetrick and

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Marc Rozman found a typewritten specification sheet which noted that the 2,440 lb engine had a bore of 5.8" and a stroke of 5.25", displacing a total 2,219.2 cubic inches. The propeller gear ratio was 2.456:1 and the compression ratio was 6.3:1 on AN-F-28 fuel. A single stage GE CH-5 radial "turbo-supercharger" was used, with an 11" diameter impeller and 6.46:1 impeller gear ratio. The intercooler and aftercooler were both liquid cooled. Based on the preliminary flight rating test:

PowerRating type Fuel Consumption (lb/bhp-hr)
2,500 bhp @ 3,400 rpmTake-off power.54 @ 2,500 bhp
2,500 bhp @ 3,400 rpmMilitary rated power at 25,000 feet.48 @ 2,150 bhp
2,150 bhp @ 3,200 rpmNormal rated power.44 @ 1,800 bhp
1,450 bhp @ 2,800 rpmCruise.43 @ 1,450 bhp
.42 @ 1,000 bhp

Dan Stroud wrote, "I've personally seen the one at the NASM's Garber facility; it's complete and still on its firewall mounting, and has most of its cowling for the Thunderbolt. The other one I've seen photos of is heavily chromed, and I was told it was the one at the Chrysler Museum. Interestingly, as I was collecting many parts from around the world for my own P-47D project, I also managed to save two parts from one of the original XP-47Hs, and at one time I saw the spinner backing plate and the prop hub still in existence, too. So, at least some of the "first hemi" has survived!"

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An inverted V-16, the Chrysler XI-2220 had, according to the Chrysler Museum, a 60° included angle between banks (though it does look like a 90° spread). There were two mirror-imaged crankshafts, with the propeller reduction gear in between; this arrangement was similar to other V-type aircraft engines with symmetrical crankpin pairing, except for the placement of the reduction gear. It had an uneven firing interval that required special magnetos. The valves - 32 of them in total - were operated by what would have been overhead cams and rocker arms, if the engine was flipped over to look like a typical automotive V8 (that is, if the heads were on top). As it is, with the heads on bottom, it used cams underneath the heads.


Restoring the Chrysler Hemi airplane engine

by Ed Poplawski

In 1997 we [a couple of guys from the Chrysler Museum] found a Chrysler aircraft engine down in a Ohio aviation scrapyard and had it delivered to CTC for restoration. This engine was designed and built during WW2 and was installed in a P-47 Thunderbolt.

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One of the people who discovered the engine was Bob Eccles, who happened to work in the same suite we [racing procurement] were in. He and I became friends because of our mutual interest in aviation; he was a former Navy pilot. So, when this engine was found they wanted to have it restored at the Chrysler Tech Center. He talked to Ted to see if I could help with the restoration process and Ted said yes as long as it didn't interfere with my normal work.

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I was assigned to facilitate the restoration of the engine for display in the Chrysler Museum here in Auburn Hills, Michigan. Most of the work done was by volunteer mechanics on their own time, led by Robert Pickett. The engine itself is an inverted V-16 displacing 2220 cubic inches and called the XIV-2220. It was the first Chrysler engine with the Hemi head design.

There was an empty room next to the Prototype Engine Build Shop that was available for us to use so we had the engine moved there. I put the word out that volunteers were needed to work on the engine on their own time and Bob Pickett from the Engine Shop volunteered to be the leader. Over the following months the engine was disassembled down to a long block. During disassembly quite a few rodent nests were found inside the engine.

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Photography was called in and pictures were taken of all the parts and pieces. The engine was removed from the stand and the stand was sent to the Paint Shop at CTC to be painted. All of the parts were washed and cleaned. Some mechanics from various labs volunteered to hammer out all the dents and dings from the valve covers, supercharger ducting, intake manifolds, etc. The long block was sent out to be cleaned and then were returned to CTC.

By that time, however, we were told that some new equipment had come in to be installed in the room we were using so our part of the restoration came to an end. The engine was sent to Roush for final detailing and painting.

Continue on to the turboprop engines... or Get the Chrysler Aircraft Engines book...

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