Internal Combustion Engine Configurations

There are so many different configurations of internal combustion engine that I thought I would try and list them in some vague order – based on increasing number of cylinders and complexity:

Single cylinder horizontal engine

Single Cylinder – Horizontal

The first internal combustion engines were single cylinder designs and mostly stationary engines.

The horizontal single cylinder engine leant itself to simple castings and construction methods.

Used for electricity generation or running belt drives across factories.

The early horizontal engines, as seen in the image to the left, had an open crankcase.

Inline Twin

Inline 2 Cylinder Glow Plug Engine

This particular engine is a model two-stroke glow plug engine.

This was designed to be used in a radio controlled model aircraft, the rear cylinder on the inline air cooled engine has a tendency to overheat. The flat twin has an advantage over the inline engine in this regard as it is easier to arrange to get the same amount of air flow over both cylinders..

Opposed Twin or Flat Twin

A model engine built by Ron Lane. An air-cooled aero engine.

V Twin

Two-cylinder engine with the cylinders arranged in the shaped of a V when looking along the line of the crankshaft.

I3

An inline 3 cylinder engine.

V3

The cylinder banks resemble the letter W when looking down the line of the crank e.g. Honda NS500 Grand Prix racing motorcycle engine.

W3

Anzani 3 cylinder – a very early aero engine used in the Bleriot monoplane.

3 Cylinder Radial

Anzani Y-Type 3 cylinder radial – the smallest cylinder configuration for a radial engine, again, this was a popular engine configuration in very early aviation.

I4

A Gypsy Major 4 cylinder inline aero engine showing the cylinders in different states of build. Far left missing cylinder head, cylinder and piston, second from left showing the piston to far right showing the complete cylinder with head and valve gear fitted.

The Inline 4 cylinder engine is the most common engine configuration in cars and in both petrol and diesel fuelled variants.

Flat 4

A horizontally opposed four cylinder engine. The image shows a model engine built by Ron Lane. The flat four is a inherently well balanced and smooth running engine.

V4

Four-cylinder engine with the cylinders arranged in two banks of 2 and the shape of a V when looking along the line of the crankshaft.

W4

The cylinder banks resemble the letter W when looking down the line of the crank.

I5

An inline 5 cylinder engine.

V5

Five cylinder engine with the cylinders arranged so that there is one bank of 3 cylinders and one bank of 2 cylinders and the shape of a V when looking along the line of the crankshaft.

5 Cylinder Radial

A model 5 cylinder radial engine built by Ron Lane. You should start to see a theme developing here as Ron designed and made a number of different configuration of engines with the same design of cylinder, head and piston.

5 Cylinder Rotary

The engine rotates around the fixed crankshaft.

6 Cylinder Radial

Anzani 6 cylinder radial.

Flat 6

A horizontally opposed six cylinder engine.

I6

The Rolls Royce Hawk, an inline six cylinder engine.

V6

Six-cylinder engine with the cylinders arranged in two banks of 3 and the shape of a V when looking along the line of the crankshaft.

7 Cylinder Radial

A model 7 cylinder radial engine.

7 Cylinder Rotary

The engine rotates around the fixed crankshaft.

I8

An inline 8 cylinder engine.

V8

Eight-cylinder engine with the cylinders arranged in two banks of 4 and the shape of a V when looking along the line of the crankshaft. In this case a model V8 with individual cylinders that clearly show the arrangement.

Flat 8

A horizontally opposed eight cylinder engine.

W8

The cylinder banks resemble the letter W when looking down the line of the crank.

9 Cylinder Rotary

Rotary engines were used extensively in early aircraft.

The engine rotates with the propeller and the crankshaft stays fixed to the bulkhead of the aeroplane. This increases the rotational inertia and on early engines meant that you didn’t need a flywheel – low weight was a key design parameter for early aero engines.

9 Cylinder Radial

Alvis Leonides 9 cylinder radial.

I10

An inline ten cylinder engine.

V10

Ten-cylinder engine with the cylinders arranged in two banks of 5 and the shape of a V when looking along the line of the crankshaft.

10 Cylinder Radial

A very unusual cylinder arrangement. This is a 1913 Anzani air-cooled radial with a few different versions producing between 100 and 125hp.

This particular engine is the one that was tested extensively at Farnborough in 1914 and is now part of the Science Museum collection.

 

V12

Twelve-cylinder engine with the cylinders arranged in two banks of 6 and the shape of a V when looking along the line of the crankshaft. The photograph shows a Daimler Double Six.

Flat 12

A horizontally opposed twelve cylinder engine.

I12

An inline twelve cylinder engine.

W12

The cylinder banks resemble the letter W when looking down the line of the crank.

14 Cylinder Radial

1850hp Wright R-2600-29 Cyclone 14-cylinder radial. Note that this is effectively two 7 cylinder radials back to back with the rear bank of cylinders being rotated half the cylinder to cylinder spacing.

I14

An inline fourteen cylinder engine.

Flat 16

A horizontally opposed sixteen cylinder engine.

V16

Sixteen-cylinder engine with the cylinders arranged in two banks of 8 and the shape of a V when looking along the line of the crankshaft.

H16

The basic design is that of two flat horizontally opposed 8 cylinder engines geared onto a common shaft.

18 Cylinder Radial

Note that this is effectively two 9 cylinder radials back to back with the rear bank of cylinders being rotated half the cylinder to cylinder spacing.

Pratt & Witney R2800 Double Wasp the displacement was 46 litre and the engine produced 2400bhp @ 2800rpm using water injection. This is a really compact radial aero engine.

W18

Isotta Fraschini W18. The cylinder banks resemble the letter W when looking down the line of the crank.

V20

A V engine with 20 cylinders arranged in two banks of 10 cylinders.

H24

The Napier Sabre III, twenty four-cylinder liquid cooled horizontally opposed, H-shaped sleeve valve engine, 2250hp at 4000rpm, bore 127mm stroke 121mm, weight 1066kg. The basic design is that of two flat horizontally opposed 12 cylinder engines geared onto a common shaft.

V24

A V engine with 24 cylinders arranged in two banks of 12 cylinders.

X24

Looking at the end of the crankshaft the cylinders form an ′X′. An example of such an engine is the 24 cylinder Rolls-Royce Vulture engine that has four banks of six cylinders.

28 Cylinder Radial

Sometimes known as the corncob as it consists of 4 banks of 7 cylinder radial engines.

36 Cylinder Radial

4 banks of 9 cylinders arranged around a central crank e.g. Lycoming R-7755.

About Nigel 191 Articles
Have been making models since I was around 7 years old and using a lathe from the age of 11, a self taught engineer with a passion for making model engines.

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