our thanks to the Bentley Drivers Club

BR2 rotary aero-engine

BR2 rotary aero-engine

Through an introduction to Commander Wilfred Briggs, W O gained a commission in the Admiralty and was posted to the Rolls-Royce and Sunbeam factories where his aluminium alloy piston was adopted.

The English concessionaires for the Clerget rotary aero-engine, which suffered from limited power and poor reliability, were next to receive a visit from W O.  He proposed a number of modifications, including the use of an aluminium cylinder shrunk on to a cast-iron liner to improve cooling.  These were taken up and resulted in a new engine, the BR1 (Bentley Rotary 1).  This engine was so successful that ‘the Hun’ concentrated their attacks on zones in which they believed Camels fitted with the BR1 were based.

The engine was further improved and enlarged, resulting in the 250 hp BR2 in 1918.

W O was demobilised with £1000 gratuity.  Subsequently, a young King’s Counsel, later to become Lord Hailsham, managed to win a further £8000 for W O, largely in recognition of the use of W O’s aluminium pistons.