This week in… 1944 – The Rolls-Royce ‘Meteor’ tank engine

With the German war machine beginning to crumble, The Engineer reported on the development of the Rolls-Royce ’Meteor’, an enormously powerful tank engine (pictured below) designed to bring about huge improvements in the performance of British tanks.

The engine, described by The Engineer as the ’most powerful fitted to any British or American tank at present in production,’ boasted almost double the horsepower of the most powerful pre-existing tank engine: the 350bhp Rolls-Royce Liberty, which it was designed to replace.

The engine was essentially a modified version of the Merlin aero-engine: the iconic motive force behind the Spitfire, the Hurricane, the Lancaster and the Mosquito. Thought by many to be one of the finest piston aero-engines ever designed, the Merlin was one of the deciding factors in the Battle of Britain.

Despite the removal of the supercharger and a few other minor modifications, The Engineer reported that the Meteor ’used all the main “Merlin” components such as the crankshaft and bearings, crank case, cylinder block and valve gear’.

The article added that while the first tank to be fitted with the engine was the Crusader, it was about to be installed in the Cromwell, which was to become one of Britain’s most successful WWII tanks.

After the war the engine was further modified and a Mark IV version was used on the famous Centurion tank.