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Brief History on the Liberty Engine

DeHaviland DH-4The Liberty 400-horsepower (298-kilowatt) V-12, was one of the most powerful engines of the First World War. Designed to be mass-produced with interchangeable parts, the Liberty became the standard wartime aircraft engine, produced by Packard, Lincoln, Ford, General Motors (Cadillac and Buick), Nordyke and Marmon. It was used most often on the DH-4, the only U.S. made aeroplane to go into combat on the Western Front. More than 13,000 engines came off the assembly line before the Armistice, and more than 20,000 were built by the time wartime production ended early in 1919.

Following the war, the United States Army Air Corps and Navy used the engine for more than a decade in numerous types of airplanes. Some engines were eventually released to the civilian market as war surplus and a number were illegally used in speedboats for "rum running" during the Prohibition era of the 1920s. The Liberty proved its' versatility and longevity being modified into air cooled and supercharged versions, others for marine use. Produced under license until the middle of the Second World War, it was also a successful tank engine, last used by the British Cruiser Tank Mk III.

Kip Motor Company was asked to reproduce the Liberty V12 cap in the summer of 2005. After a period of extensive research, tooling was fabricated and production of new distributor cap assemblies and rotors began in October 2005. Kip Motor Company would like to thank Kay Engineers Ltd (UK), for their assistance and loan of original samples, allowing this project to move forward.

Read about our re-engineering efforts in the Torque Meter, the official publication of the Historical Aircraft Engine Society.

Celebrating our 20th Anniversary of Vintage Motoring!


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