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This object is on display in the Legend, Memory and the Great War in the Air exhibition at the National Mall building.


  • Summary


The Daimler-Benz virtual monopoly on the production of aircraft engines in Germany stifled research and development. As a result, when the Allies introduced a new generation of high-performance engines in 1916, Germany found itself without a suitable replacement for its now-obsolete standard aircraft power plant, the 119 kw (160-shp) Daimler-Benz Mercedes.

Believing that he had a solution to the crisis, Daimler-Benz designer Max Fritz proposed a new engine using the same technology as the older Mercedes. But his ideas met with resistance, so Fritz left and joined Bayerische Motoren Werke (BMW). There he designed an engine that retained the 6-cylinder in-line configuration of the earlier Daimler-Benz engines, but was superior in many respects.

The BMW Model IIIa had unusually low fuel consumption and very good performance at high altitudes. This was the result of a choked down carburetor setting and a high compression ratio. It powered such aircraft as the Fokker D VII.

Transferred from the U.S. Navy, Naval Supply Center, Norfolk, Virginia.

Manufacturer:   BMW (Bayerische Motoren Werke) (Munich, Germany)

Date: 1918

Country of Origin: Germany

Length 170.2 cm (67.0 in)., Width 50.8 cm (20.0 in.), Height 105.4 cm (41.5 in.)

Physical Description:
Type: In-line, 6 cylinders, liquid-cooled, Power Rating: 134 KW (180 hp) at 1410 rpm (Max 234 hp at 1,400 rpm) Displacement: 19.058 L (1,163 cu in) Bore and Stroke: 150 mm (5.9 in) x 180 mm (7.1 in) Weight: 293 kg (644 lb) Condition: Has propeller hub; missing 11 spark plugs, data plate, and exhaust manifolds; magneto cap broken; wiring deteriorated.

Inventory number: A19710908000