On Mon, 20 Jun 2005 19:34:54 GMT, "Rich"
Thought I posted this a few days ago, but it seems to have fallen out of
The Meteor began as an idea with Robotham, an under-occupied R-R
engineer. As R-R themselves were too busy making Merlins, he had Leyland
build the prototypes. These were so successful (compared to the WW1
Libertys they were replacing) that in a famous test in April 1941, a
Crusader hull re-engined with a Meteor went so fast that the timekeeper
forgot to press the stopwatch.
After this though, Leyland got cold feet. They thought that a
water-cooled engine of this power couldn't possibly work in the confined
space of a tank hull, without over-heating. So the first production
order for them (1,000 for the new Cromwell tank) went to R-R. Meadows
might have been involved at this point, although they were also building
their own less powerful opposed 12 for the much slower Churchill tank.
The Rover connection didn't come in until 1943, when R-R swapped their
tank engine work for Rover's gas turbine work.
As far as I can tell, every possible variant of Meteor and Meteorite was
tested, if not produced, although I'm having trouble identifying which
were actually Meteors and which were Meteorites. I've found references
to turbocharged, supercharged, diesels and fuel-injected petrol, even a
marine version. There's even some talk (I'd love to know if this was
actually built) of a "Packard Meteor" with the simplified cylinder liner
seals of the Packard-built Merlin.