A 1918 Hispano-Suiza Viper W4A 210hp V8 Aero Engine,
Makers no. 3763, Contract no. 34A/375/C333, Service no. 63186.
Wolseley Motors Ltd. of Birmingham were pressed into wartime production of aero engines at a time of national need, their skills developed from motor car engineering placing them in good stead for the exceptionally high quality engineering required of aircraft engine manufacture. Perhaps their prolific wartime aero engine and arguably the most effective was the Hispano-Suiza designed Viper W4A engine, the mere sound of which sent shivers down the enemy spine. The Viper engine was to be used primarily in the formidable SE5A, so effectively campaigned by 56 Squadron RFC. The engine was a V8 unit with bore and stroke of 120 x 130mm, 11,762cc, weighed just 508 lbs and developed a maximum brake horsepower of 220bhp. Ignition was by twin BTH magnetos and a single Zenith carburettor provided the fuel supply.
This engine is remarkably well documented, retaining its original engine log book. This confirms that it came off test on 23rd November 1918 and appeared to go into service the following month. The log records that on 20th December 1918 this engine has been installed in SE5A machine F7782. In 1920 the engine remained with that aircraft in service with the R.A.F. and the log records subsequent movements during the 1920s including a major overhaul in 1926. At the end of that year the log records the engine in use in SE5 no.318 and in 1927 it was installed in SE5A no.305, by this time the engine being in the hands of the South African Air Force. Remarkably it continued flying until 1929 when it underwent another complete overhaul at the OC Aircraft Depot, S.A. Air Force. In 1934 it appears that the engine was retired from active service a remarkable 16 year history. Pencil notes are in the log indicating that in post-war years the engine was in the collection of that great South African collector, Waldy Greyvenstein. In more recent years the engine returned to the U.K. where it has recently been fully dismantled and stripped down for ease of inspection by prospective buyers. The engine is sold as seen and is believed to be substantially complete and offered with its Zenith carburettor. The restoration of this engine will present the opportunity for continuing service either in aircraft use or perhaps in a motor car chassis in the increasingly popular aero-engined section of activities within the Vintage Sports-Car Club. The engine comes with its aforementioned and highly important engine log book.