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Le Rhône 9C

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Le Rhône 9C

Le Rhône 9C engine installed in a Sopwith Pup at the Royal Air Force Museum London
Type Rotary engine
National origin France
Manufacturer Gnome et Rhône
First run 1916
Number built 1,088 (British production)

The Le Rhône 9C is a nine-cylinder rotary aircraft engine produced in France by Gnome et Rhône. Also known as the Le Rhône 80 hp in a reference to its nominal power rating, the engine was fitted to a number of military aircraft types of the First World War. Le Rhône 9C engines were also produced under license in Great Britain by several companies,[1] and in the United States.

In common with other Le Rhône series engines, the 9C featured highly visible telescopic copper induction pipes and used a single push-pull rod to operate its two overhead valves.[2]

Examples of Le Rhône 9C engines are on view in aviation museums either installed in aircraft exhibits or as stand-alone displays. A few examples of the 9C engine remain airworthy both in Europe and North America, one powering a vintage Sopwith Pup biplane in England, and a small number of others having powered reproduction WW I-era aircraft at Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome and other American "living" aviation museums that fly their restored original engines in both similarly restored original, and airworthy reproduction period aircraft.



Both the restored Shuttleworth Collection's airworthy Sopwith Pup and the 1960s-built reproduction Pup of the Owl's Head Transportation Museum (originally from Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome) are each powered by 80 hp Le Rhône 9C rotary engines, and fly regularly throughout the summer months.[3][4]

Engines on display

A Le Rhône 9C is installed in the Sopwith Pup on display at the Royal Air Force Museum London. After renovation this aircraft flew for a brief period in the 1970s and is now retired.[5]

Specifications (Le Rhône 9C)

Close-up view of a Le Rhône 9C showing the valve operating rods, front-side induction manifold (contrast with the Le Rhône 9J's rear mounted design) and manufacturer's data plate

Data from Lumsden.[1]

General characteristics

  • Type: Nine-cylinder, single-row rotary engine
  • Bore: 105 mm (4.13 in)
  • Stroke: 140 mm (5.51 in)
  • Displacement: 10.89 L (664.47 cu in)
  • Diameter: 94.5 cm (37.2 in)
  • Dry weight: 121.5 kg (268 lb)


  • Valvetrain: Cam-operated single rocker for both inlet and exhaust valves
  • Oil system: Castor oil, total loss
  • Cooling system: Air-cooled


See also

Comparable engines
Related lists



  1. ^ a b Lumsden 2003, p. 160.
  2. ^ Gunston 1989, p. 93.
  3. ^ G-EBKYCAA G-INFO - Sopwith Pup, Retrieved: 17 November 2010
  4. ^ Shuttleworth Collection - Sopwith Pup Retrieved: 17 November 2010
  5. ^ - Full historyN5182Royal Air Force Museum London - Sopwith Pup, Retrieved: 17 November 2010.


  • Lumsden, Alec. British Piston Engines and their Aircraft. Marlborough, Wiltshire: Airlife Publishing, 2003. ISBN 1-85310-294-6.
  • Gunston, Bill. World Encyclopedia of Aero Engines. Cambridge, England. Patrick Stephens Limited, 1989. ISBN 1-85260-163-9

External links

  • Le Rhône rotary engine - Images and description
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