The First Liberty

The First Liberty

August 29, 1917,  The eight cylinder version of the Liberty, also water-cooled, was the first Liberty designed and built; it preceded not only the liberty 12 but also the four and six-cylinder versions. It was also the first Liberty flight-tested in an airplane. It developed 270 hp. initially but its output was later boosted to 330 hp.

The L-8 suffered serious vibration problems and since the Hispano-Suiza 300 hp. engine had already been perfected, development of the L-8 was halted after Buick of General Motors had built 15 at a cost of $3,000 each. The L-8 was installed in the Engineering Division USB-2 (only one built) in 1918 and the Pomilio FVL-8 (only six built) in 1919. America's greatest technological contribution during WWI was the Liberty 12-cylinder, water cooled engine.

Rated at 410 hp., it weighed only two pounds per horsepower, far surpassing similar types of engines mass produced   by England, France,  Italy, and Germany at that time. During the war, 20,478 Liberty 12s were produced by Packard, Lincoln, Ford, General Motors (Cadillac and Buick), Nordyke, and Marmon.

They were used primarily in U.S.-built D.H.4s, the only American-made airplane to get intocombat over the Western Front. Following the war, the engine was used by the Air Corps for more than a decade in numerous types of airplanes. Some which were sold to civilians as war surplus were illegally used in speed boats for "rum running" during the Prohibition era of the 1920s; others were even used in Russian and British tanks during WWII.

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