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Al Shukle's Gilbert Erector WWI Aircraft Engines

Hi folks, Doc here. My friend Al is back with a tongue-in-cheek history of the imaginary WWI-era Heimlich Motoren Werke (Engine Works), makers of aircraft engines. Basing his designs on authentic engines of the period like the famous Gnome Rotary and others, Al has also recreated four of Heimlich's best using Gilbert Erector parts. Al's imagined history is fun, but his models are the real thing, and illustrate how successfully metal construction systems like Gilbert Erector, Meccano, and many others can be used in actual engineering applications. Read on, and enjoy...

History of the Heimlich Motoren Werke, Gmbh by Al Shukle

Freiherr Manfred von Heimlich was a WWI German fighter pilot who was a contemporary and bitter rival of Max Immelman. Von Heimlich was especially envious of the fact that Immelman* had a combat maneuver named after him. Von Heimlich devised a maneuver (No, not that one!) consisting of a vertical rolling figure 8. While practicing this maneuver one day, he fatally crashed at the bottom of the second loop. The maneuver was hereafter known as, "the dreaded figure 9," and assiduously avoided by fighter pilots ever since.

His grieving father, Count Otto von Heimlich, a third cousin on the distaff side, twice removed, of Baron von Munchausen, was an industrial magnate of some renown. The count decided to establish an engine manufacturing facility to keep his son's name alive. Unfortunately, and for good reason, he failed. As most internal combustion engineers of any ability were already employed by the German war industry, he was forced to hire steam engineers, with disastrous results. The Heimlich in-line 6 competed against Maybach, and failed. The V-8 was rejected by the Inspecteur des Fliegers for the Mercedes in-line engines. The rotary was no competition for the Obereusel Werke's products. Finally, the last ditch attempt, a radial, overheated anytime the outside air temperature was more than -55 degrees C.

Thus the firm and its name faded from history. Surprisingly, their propellers, an in-house product were very advanced for their time, being of composite construction and sophisticated design. Why they were not continued is an unexplained mystery.

* Doc's note: Max Immelman and his famous maneuver were both real. Click HERE to read more...

Heimlich Aircraft Engine Pictorials

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