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  • Author Léon Levavasseur, constructor
  • Date of production 1908–1909
  • Place of creation France
  • Dimensions height: 60 cm, length: 110 cm, width: 55 cm, weight: 95 kg
  • ID no. MLP 010/1
  • Museum Polish Aviation Museum
  • Subjects technics
  • Material metal
  • Object copyright Polish Aviation Museum
  • Digital images copyright public domain
  • Digitalisation RDW MIC, Małopolska's Virtual Museums project
  • Tags industry , aviation , technique , public domain
Print description

The French Antoinette V-8 made between 1908 and 1909 is the oldest aircraft engine from the collection at the Polish Aviation Museum in Kraków. It was designed by Léon Levasseur, who previously engineered engines for motor boats...

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The French Antoinette V-8 made between 1908 and 1909 is the oldest aircraft engine from the collection at the Polish Aviation Museum in Kraków. It was designed by Léon Levasseur, who previously engineered engines for motor boats.
Lėon Levasseur worked with the Antoinette company, which were involved in manufacturing various products, though with little success. The company was owned by Robert Gastambide, who named it after his daughter.
In 1903, Lavasseur engineered an engine that propelled motor boats. Four years later, he devoted himself to engineering airplanes. He decided to use an engine that had a technical specification based on those used in motor boats.
Antoinette V-8 was in many respects quite a modern, and at the same time, unconventional engine. It was an 8-cylinder V-shaped system with two banks of four cylinders. Its cooling system was based on the full evaporation of water in cylinders (“boiling” water on cylinders). The vapour generated was condensed by a system of long copper pipes installed on the plane fuselage. The fuel system consisted in injecting petrol into the suction channels of each cylinder separately.
The valve mechanism served the exhaust valve only; the suction system opened automatically during the suction stroke in the cylinder. The engine was quite cutting-edge, but unfortunately, unreliable. For that reason it gained little popularity among users.
The power of the V-8 engine with a volume of 8.0 l reached 65 HP at 1100 RPM.
The museum also has the fuselage of an Antoinette plane powered with the above-mentioned engine. The plane and engine control system are worthy of attention, too.

Elaborated by Polish Aviation Museum, © all rights reserved

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The first steps of Antoinette

The success of the Wright brothers, who, on 17 December1903 launched themselves into the air at a height of 37 m (previously, on 14 December, Orville Wright had made an unsuccessful flight at the height of 36 m), ignited the imagination of constructors. The English Channel became the barrier of distance that people strived to overcome at all cost....

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The success of the Wright brothers, who, on 17 December1903 launched themselves into the air at a height of 37 m (previously, on 14 December, Orville Wright had made an unsuccessful flight at the height of 36 m), ignited the imagination of constructors. The English Channel became the barrier of distance that people strived to overcome at all cost.
Antoinette was one of the first planes on which attempts were made. In 1909, Hubert Latham was a step away from breaking the distance record but the plane had to make a forced landing. The pilot very quickly turned the failure into the constructional success of the machine, advertising it with the slogan: “Antoinette planes are unsinkable” (in the end Louis Bleriot was the first to cross the English Channel on 25 July1909).
Interestingly, the constructor of the machine, Lavavasseur, was not an educated engineer, but his talent and passion enabled him to create an airplane that, at the beginning of the century, was regarded as one of the best airplanes in the world (he became famous for the water-cooled eight-cylinder V-type engine located in the heart of the machine).
The collection of the Małopolska’s Virtual Museums could not omit Antoinette’s aircraft engine, that you can see on a daily basis at the Polish Aviation Museum in Kraków.

Elaborated by Editorial team of Małopolskas Virtual Museums,
Licencja Creative Commons

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Poland License.

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Air engine “Antoinette” V8

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