It is said that the Merlin Engine made by Rolls Royce made the difference between winning and losing the war with Germany. Designed and built in Derby, Crewe, Glasgow and Manchester, the Merlin engine, an extraordinary feat of engineering brilliance provided the heft that the Lancaster needed and went on to assume mythical status.
The four Merlins of the Lancaster were powerful and robust enough to enable strikes deep into Nazi Germany. The 10 hour trip with a full load of fuel and bombs, often involving violent structure-stressing corkscrew manoeuvres, depended on their astonishing power.
About 150,000 liquid-cooled 12 piston Merlin engines were built, each one containing 14,000 individual parts which created a unique and familiar sound. Churchill considered the Merlin so important that he arranged for a set of drawings to be sent to the USA just in case Britain became occupied by the Germans.
At an American airshow at their base in Mildenhall, the commentator requested quiet from the audience and then said:
‘Let’s just listen to the Merlin…’