German Aero Engine update:
Colin Grant has kindly agreed to write up the following item explaining all about the mysterious aero engines which turned up in the Cargo Department at LHR.
The mysterious case of the two very old and very damaged aircraft engines; mysterious for us that is, as a bunch of young mechanics arriving for work that morning in the mid-seventies, they were a complete mystery. No information was forthcoming regarding why they were plonked on pallets in the middle of our otherwise immaculate workshop, looking in a very sad state, but a closer inspection was a must.
Yes, they were German, V-12 - Twelve-cylinder supercharged liquid-cooled 60-degree inverted V piston aircraft engines. They were inverted (mounted upside down unlike a car engine), supercharged and fuel injected. The name plate told us they were Junkers Jumo engines from 1939. We soon indulged in a much closer inspection - our usual work would have to wait that day. Nobody knew anything about them or why they were there and what's more, nobody seemed to care. They were beautiful pieces of kit, made to a remarkably high standard; remember, we were still driving Morris Marinas and such like at the time. They were very bent, with some parts strangely missing, magnetos that gave the plugs their spark with all their internals and drives as they should be, but no bodies or casings, the same with the rocker covers, all the bolts that held them on, even with their small tab washers still in place, but no covers.
A debate ensued, fueled with large mugs of tea, as usual. The penny finally dropped - these parts had been made from ultra-lightweight magnesium and had corroded completely away, without a trace of them left. Clearly these engines had been under the ground for a long time, [thirty five years as it turned out], a spark plug or two were removed and tested in our Champion spark plug test machine, their platinum tips still gave a beautiful spark. Further inspection revealed that the fuel injectors were in perfect working order, the connecting rods [visible through a large bullet hole] were still free on the crankshaft, despite this being bent like a banana. At last our dismantling caused a stir and a manager appeared to halt proceedings and finally explain the situation.
(Source: September issue Newsletter from LHR Pionairs)
(To be continued in NetLetter nr 1376 – eds)