Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 130,446 pages of information and 207,488 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Hispano-Suiza

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December 1911. Advert in French.
May 1913.
1918. 8-10 h.p. Type 24 Two-seat. Reg No: BF 4854.

Hispano-Suiza was an originally Spanish and then Spanish-French automotive and engineering firm (actually, from 1923 on, two different companies) best known for their cars, engines (including world famous aviation engines) and weapons designs in the pre-World War II period.

With the start of WWI the company turned to the creation of aircraft engines under the direction of Marc Birkigt. His solution to building aero engines was unique, instead of machining separate steel cylinders and then bolting them to a crankcase, he used cast aluminum blocks into which thin steel liners were screwed. This made the engine overall much stiffer, easier to build, and lighter. His design was a V-8 and was the first of what are today known as "cast block" engines, and also sported overhead cams, propeller reduction gearing, and a host of other features that didn't appear on most other engines until the late 1920s.

Another major design effort was the use of a hollow propeller shaft to allow a gun to be fired through the propeller spinner, thereby avoiding the need for a synchronizer gear. This design would be a feature of all future Hispano-Suiza military engines.

1913-1917 For a list of the models and prices in the UK see the 1917 Red Book

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