Lew Blackmore & the Bentley BR2 Rotary Aero Engine

A review of the book by Lew Blackmore on building the quarter scale model of the Bentley BR2 as was fitted to the Sopwith Snipe aircraft.

Sopwith Snipe, powered by Bentley BR2 Rotary Engine

“In 1982, Australian Lew Blackmore entered his fully functional, one quarter scale model of the Bentley BR2 rotary engine in the British Model Engineer Exhibition, winning the Duke of Edinburgh Challenge Cup and becoming the first winner to take it from British soil. The Model Engineer magazine later published a long series of articles by Lew, illustrated with drawings, plans and photographs, for others wanting to build their own BR2 model. Lew followed up in 1986 by refining and expanding his series into a hardbound book which he self-published. This work has long since sold out, and has become a collectors’ item, but Camden Live Steam (UK) has reissued it in softcover to form the subject of this review.img_7882

For constructors of model internal combustion engines, I’d call this book an absolute must. It contains all you require in the way of plans, drawings of jigs and special cutters to reproduce Lew’s engine. Many have done so and the sight and sound of one in action is something you’ll not soon forget. The book is nicely composed, in two column format, profusely illustrated with plans, drawings and photographs. The text is clearly written to be enjoyed by builders and arm-chair model engineers alike. It begins by describing the history of WO Bentley’s second engine design for the British Admiralty during World War One, showing a sectioned drawing of the BR2 and the Clerget rotary it was derived from. Subsequent chapters describe the research for the model and devote individual chapters to the components, including a working, scale oil pump and scale, but dummy, magnetos that hide the contact breaker system for a conventional coil ignition system. The book concludes with a reprint of the official BR2 Aero Engine handbook of 1925.

Sadly, Lew is no longer with us, passing away in the mid 1990’s before he was able to complete the astounding Napier Lion miniature replica he was working on. His achievements are all the more noteworthy for his not having an engineering background–only taking up model engineering following his retirement. His legacy, in the form of this book, will be enjoyed by model builders and aero engine historians alike.”

(Note: Lew was a Fitter in the RAAF during WW2 where he picked up some engineering skills)

Lew Blackmore’s working 1/4 scale model of Bentley BR2 Engine

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