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Aeronautical Research in Germany: from Lilienthal until Today
Ernst-Heinrich Hirschel, Horst Prem, Gero Madelung
Published by Springer, 2004
ISBN 354040645X, 9783540406457
‘The Argus Company developed in 1928, with the support of the Ministry of Transport, the first air-cooled aero engine with inverted cylinders, the AS 8” - a 4cyl/70hp unit.
In the following years it, and an inverted V4 by Hirth-Motoren - which seem to been outstanding engines, allowed planes such as the Heinkel 64 to win many of the light aircraft competitions of the time.
The need for more powerful engines, is usually met by “scaling up’ existing successful designs - a 4cyl becomes a V8, a 6cyl becomes a V12 etc.
This was the era of secret and later very public re-armament. “Nothing Succeeds Like Success” - Argus and Hirth would have been in a very competitive position, in the marketplace. It would have been a huge commercial risk for Junker in 1931 with the “Jumo” and DB in 1934 with the DB600 not to have “gone with the flow”.
So an engine type aimed at small light aircraft, evolved into a universal engine used in fighters, bombers, transports where it’s advantages are by no means as obvious.