Renault 80 hp WWI aero engine made by Wolseley Motors, Birmingham, England, 1915

Made in Birmingham, West Midlands, England, United Kingdom, Europe, 1915.

This French WWI Renault A52, 80 hp aero engine was made under licence in England in 1915 by Wolseley Motors Ltd of Birmingham.

The 90 degree V8 engine became an early standard for aviation use alongside the other standards, the rotary radial, the radial and the upright inline four. The Moteurs Louis Renault Cie chose the 90 degree V8 as their preferred standard and improved on this basis with continual modifications and upgrading. Although the engines were unspectacular performers they were re...


Object No.


Physical Description

Aircraft engine, Renault A52, WWI, upright V8, air cooled, eight cylinders, 85 hp, 1800 rpm, steel/cast iron, engine No.2014, made by Wolseley Motors Ltd, Birmingham, England, 1915

Eight cylinder upright 90-degree Vee air-cooled poppet valve engine with 105mm x 130mm (4.13 inches x 5.12 inches) bore and stroke giving a capacity of 548.9 cu. in. Compression ratio: 4.16:1, spur geared propeller drive at 0.5:1, right hand pusher type (fitted with cooling fan). 'F' head arrangement for valves ie overhead exhaust, side inlet.

This aero engine is an eight-cylinder, 90 degree, V8, air-cooled radial engine where the propeller was driven at half engine speed from an extension to the camshaft. The cylinders are made from cast iron with cooling fins cast into the body. The cylinder head is separate from the cylinder and the two are bolted to the crankcase by long bolts engaging a cruciform yoke at the top of the cylinder head. The pistons are also cast iron. The intake and exhaust poppet valves are located laterally to the cylinders, on the inner side. The intake valve was directly actuated from the cam shaft by a push rod, while the exhaust valve was actuated via a rocker arm. Cooling air was supplied from a centrifugal blower mounted at the rear of the engine. The single magneto is a Bosch 'shield' type which produces four sparks per revolution of the cam shaft which was driven at engine speed. Fuel was supplied through a Zenith 42 RA carburettor.The engine operated on the four-stroke cycle with cylinder firing in the order 1-4-2-3 for each of the four cylinders in one line. Speed is controlled through a throttle valve in the carburettor.

Height: 760 mm
Length: 1140 mm
Width: 880 mm
Cylinder diameter: 105 mm
Piston stroke: 130 mm
Weight: 210 kg
Compression ratio: 4.16:1


Engine plate:
"Wolseley Motors Ltd. Birmingham
Engine No. A52/2014 B.H.P 85 at 905. Tested 5-8-15: 2 hrs."



One of 304 Renault type WS, 80 hp, 8-cylinder Vee engines manufactured under licence by Wolseley Motors Ltd. of Birmingham, England from August 1914 until December 1918. The addition of the cooling fan identifies this engine as a 'pusher' type having the propeller at the rear. This type was typically fitted to the Maurice Farman 'Longhorn' and 'Shorthorn' training aircraft.

The Wolseley Tool and Motor Car Company Ltd. began the design and manufacture of aero engines in 1907. Their first product was a 30 hp 4 cylinder in-line engine, completed in 1908 but proved to be underpowered. The next product was a water-cooled 8 cylinder 90 degree Vee engine rated at 50 hp with a geared propeller drive. There is some indication that an air cooled version may have been produced.

During the First World War the Wolseley Motors Ltd, as it had become, manufactured under licence several aero engines; the Renault, the Hispano-Suiza and the air cooled engines designed by the Royal Aircraft Establishment. These latter engines owed aspects of their design on the 80 hp Renault V8. At the end of the First World War the production of aero engines by Wolseley ceased. However, in 1931, when owned by Sir William Morris (Bart.), Wolseley Motors (1927) Ltd. initiated a subsidiary company, Wolseley Aero Engines Ltd, which began the design and production of small radial aero engines. This company was registered in 1935. In 1942 after organisational name changes the 'Aero' name was dropped leaving Nuffield Mechanisations Ltd.

The Renault car company completed its first aero engine, an air-cooled 90 degree V8, in 1908. This first engine produced 35 hp at 1,400 rpm. The following year they introduced their uprated version which gave 55 hp at 1,600 rpm. They continued to uprate the engine until it was producing 70 hp and then 80 hp. Although the engines were heavy and required overhauls every 50-70 hours they were very reliable and many were produced in France and under licence in England. They also formed the basis for the Royal Aircraft Factory engine, the RAF.1A





The engine serial number A52/2014 was produced in 1915 at the Wolseley Motors Ltd factory at Birmingham. Its history of use is unknown at this stage but post World War 1 it was acquired by Sir Henry Barraclough, Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Sydney, along with other surplus aero engines from the English Ministry of Munitions to serve as a teaching collection for the School of mechanical engineering at the University.

In the 1940s, as space at the University was required for the training of military engineers, the collection of aero engines was delivered to the Museum on loan. In 1983 this loan was converted to a donation by the University of Sydney.


Credit Line

Gift of the University of Sydney, 1983

Acquisition Date

16 August 1983

Cite this Object


Renault 80 hp WWI aero engine made by Wolseley Motors, Birmingham, England, 1915 2018, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 19 November 2018, <>


{{cite web |url= |title=Renault 80 hp WWI aero engine made by Wolseley Motors, Birmingham, England, 1915 |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=19 November 2018 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}


This object record is currently incomplete. Other information may exist in a non-digital form. The Museum continues to update and add new research to collection records.

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