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How does a Napier Sabre sound?

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  • Lythronax
    Rank 4 Registered User
    • Jun 2018
    • 24

    How does a Napier Sabre sound?

    This is something that's been on my mind for a while. I'm aware there are recordings but the quality is poor in every case and I feel as though little justice is done to the machine. The best descriptions I've found, other than it being louder than contemporary engines, are "nauseating", "high pitched" and "like an extremely loud sewing machine".

    Are there any good anecdotal descriptions or memories of how the engine should sound from Typhoon or Tempest pilots? Do any forum members recall hearing them from the 40s or 50s? Are there specific design features which produce the sound it made?
  • olly_s
    Rank 4 Registered User
    • Aug 2017
    • 193

    #2
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fo0Lv1S3RfQ these sounds aren't that bad

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    • Creaking Door
      Rank 5 Registered User
      • Sep 2006
      • 9863

      #3
      Specific design features; well, the Sabre is a sleeve-valve, and since almost all (loud) engine noise comes from the exhaust system on an engine, that may have a bearing on it?

      The Bristol Centaurus is a sleeve-valve, of comparable power, with a fairly comparable 'simple' exhaust system: no 'collector-ring' or exhaust turbochargers or anything, just (longish) individual plain exhaust pipes. There are a few Centaurus engines in regular use on Hawker Fury / Sea Fury aircraft; they may sound similar (and I definitely wouldn't describe them as 'nauseating' or 'high pitched' by any stretch of the imagination) although there will certainly be other factors: engine RPM for one (although I don't think the Sabre uses the Napier 'lots of small pistons at high RPM' as some of their earlier engines) and (short) 'stub' exhausts for another.

      The other sleeve-valve engine is the Bristol Hercules, although these usually run with an exhaust 'collector ring' on the nose of the nacelle. I've only heard a Bristol Hercules run once on an aircraft and that was two running on a Noratlas; my overall impression was that they were extremely quiet but I'm not sure if the Noratlas operates with a 'collector ring'?

      There are also a few ground-running Bristol Hercules engines that I've heard running.
      WA$.

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      • DoraNineFan
        Rank 5 Registered User
        • Oct 2005
        • 233

        #4
        I remember listening to the sounds in the YouTube video. More pistons and more exhaust pulses and did not think that the Sabre had a very beefy sound, but I think it will be impressive when one if finally restored. Similar to the R-4360, I was expecting a bigger sound but the 4360 just sounds very busy.

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        • bazv
          olde rigger
          • Feb 2005
          • 5878

          #5
          Originally posted by Creaking Door View Post
          I don't think the Sabre uses the Napier 'lots of small pistons at high RPM' as some of their earlier engines

          .
          As a rough RPM/Power comparison,I am afraid that it was the fairly usual 'Napier high RPM for more power scenario'...


          Napier Sabre = 2,850 hp @ 3,800 rpm

          R R Griffon = 2,220 hp @ 2,750 r.p.m

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          • Lythronax
            Rank 4 Registered User
            • Jun 2018
            • 24

            #6
            Originally posted by Creaking Door View Post
            (although I don't think the Sabre uses the Napier 'lots of small pistons at high RPM' as some of their earlier engines) .
            I believe it does? The max RPM for a Tempest Sabre is 3850, max continuous something like 3700 - compared to 3000 and 2650 for a Merlin.

            Comment

            • Creaking Door
              Rank 5 Registered User
              • Sep 2006
              • 9863

              #7
              I stand corrected; 3800/3850 RPM is pretty high for an engine that size. The pistons are smaller (5" bore) than anything else in that power bracket but I bet the stroke is also fairly short for an overall capacity of.....what? (No idea; has to go look it up!)

              Capacity of 36.65 Litres; so I guess the Napier formula was used on Sabre after all; 'lots of small cylinders and high RPM'!

              As far as sound goes, that may be your answer right there.....high RPM?
              Last edited by Creaking Door; 20th July 2019, 20:41.
              WA$.

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              • RJH
                RJH
                Rank 5 Registered User
                • Feb 2015
                • 79

                #8
                Wasn't the description likened to 'tearing calico' ?
                Get an old cotton sheet and tear it in two quite quickly - hey presto - the sound of a Napier Sabre !

                Comment

                • RJH
                  RJH
                  Rank 5 Registered User
                  • Feb 2015
                  • 79

                  #9
                  I have an old 'Golden Guinea' LP record called 'The Sound of the Aeroplane at War 1939\1945 that has a wartime recording of Typhoons flying over the allied lines, some firing rockets some dropping bombs, on enemy positions nearby. Sounds pretty good to me. Thinking about how that sounds, I would think like a higher revving version of Nick Grey ringing the neck of the R2800 powered Sea Fury at last year's Legends while being the Joker !
                  Last edited by RJH; 21st July 2019, 10:11.

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                  • RJH
                    RJH
                    Rank 5 Registered User
                    • Feb 2015
                    • 79

                    #10
                    Correction :- That's a higher revving version of the R2800 powered Sea Fury - not a higher revving version of Nick Grey !!!
                    Last edited by RJH; 21st July 2019, 10:11.

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