Replica Wright Cyclone radial engine

Wright cyclone radial engine

This replica of a Wright Cyclone radial engine was made for the modern opera "Madeline Lee" designed by Brian Thomson. It was a complicated prop to build because of the realism required in the finished engine. The opera is based on the true story of a B-24D Liberator bomber called the "Lady Be Good" which failed to return from a mission to Italy in 1943. A search failed to find any trace of the plane.


The wreckage of the plane was discovered 15 years later in the Libyan Desert. It was another two years before the remains of all but one of the crew were discovered. The plane had run out of fuel and the crew had parachuted to safety. The plane had crashed 16 miles south of where the crew had safely landed.

The fascinating story of "The Lady be Good" is an exciting story. The fact that the body of the ninth crew member was never found is the plot for the opera "Madeline Lee".


The Wright Cyclone engine prop

Using reference photos of a Wright Cyclone radial engine found on the Internet David Wilson drafted a 3D drawing of the engine. DXF files were then drafted for each of the individual parts. These were laser cut and the parts assembled to make the prop replica of the Wright Cyclone radial engine.


Below (left) is the 3D CAD drawing used to make the prop engine. Parts were laser cut from the DXF files produced from this drawing. A picture also shows the 3D CAD rendering of one of the cylinder assemblies. These were made from rings of steel and MDF glued to PVC storm water pipe.


3D render of cylinder
Cylinder 3D Render

This render was done to make sure all the parts would fit as needed

3D render of whole engine assembly
Engine Assembly 3D Render

This CAD drawing was made and all parts were manufactured from this.

Laser cut cylinder fins
Laser Cut Fins

All the cylinder fins laser cut in 3mm MDF being painted silver

Assembling cylinders
Cylinder Assembly

David fitting the MDF cylinder fins to the PVC pipe

Completed cylinder
Completed Cylinder

A completed cylinder with cylinder head. Details of making the cylinder head can be found here.

 engine assembly
Engine Assembly

David putting finishing touches on the engine before it goes to the Scenic Artists for *distressing*.

Stage shot of plane
Plane Flying On Stage

Scene of the B24D Liberator on its way to crashing during a stage rehearsal at the Sydney Opera House

Stage shot of plane
Plane Crashed On Stage

The B24D Liberator in its crashed position during rehearsal at the Sydney Opera House.