We had a chat with Andrew on what sort of motors were powering airships in a past, how much power they had and how that would look today so we did a tiny research.
Let me introduce the Maybach VL-2, V-12 Engine first.
This engine powered the largest airships ever made German Graf Zeppelin, U.S. Akron, and Macon between years 1928 and 1934. It was reciprocating, 12 cylinders, V-type, fuel injected, water-cooled beast – weighting 2,530 lb (1,148 kg). Its power rating was 425 kW (570 hp) at 1,600 rpm Displacement: 33.3 L (2,029 cu in.).
Namely the LZ 127 Graf Zeppelin was powered by five of these monsters, mounted in individual streamlined nacelles arranged so that each was in an undisturbed airflow. Taking the values from above, it makes a total of 2,125 kW (2,850 hp) power output, while weighting almost 6 tons (5,740 kg)! To give you something to compare this with – our family car weights 2.44 t, so this is two of them … and more.
Now let’s welcome our second contestant – AM Racing AMR Dual Stack 250-90 AC Motor.
This baby dates back to 2014 and it is a Liquid Cooled, Permanent Magnet – Remy motor weighting incredible 180 lb (82 kg). It comes with rated torque: 560 lb Ft Peak (w/150 kW controller) and rated power 420 HP peak (w/150 kW controller) Max RPM: 10,000.
Let’s do the same maths as per our lovely Maybach above – taking values from above, our Remy motor sort of matches it based on the peak power value advertised so taking 5 of them as per the Zeppelin configuration. Well 5*180 lb -> 900 lb (410 kg)…. this is 10-times less then the same configuration with Maybachs weighting almost 6 tons (5,740 kg)!
Here comes a huge disclaimer that I am well aware that I am here comparing apples with pears, but I still find it amazing that almost a century later we can achieve same power output with magnitude smaller and lighter technology. Same way it is fascinating what sort of miracles were German engineers to achieve that time.