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Main Diesel Engines


GM 16-278A, inboard side

Cannon Class Destroyer Escorts in World War II were equipped with diesel engines manufactured by the Cleveland Diesel Engine Division, General Motors Corporation of Cleveland, Ohio (as shown here would be the aft inboard side, control end, of Engine 1 or 2 in B1 or outboard side of #4 in B3). The General Motors engine was also known as the Winton V-type. These engines had been in the process of development for several years, and the later models proved highly dependable under wartime operating conditions.

Diesel Engine, inboard

The Model 16-278A General Motors engine ( as shown here would be the forward outboard side, blower end, of Engine 1 or 2 in B1 or inboard side of #4 in B3), four of which were installed aboard the SLATER, is a 16-cylinder V-type engine with 2 banks of 8 cylinders each. The engine operates on the 2-stroke cycle principle, is air started, and is rated at 1600 bhp at 750 rpm. The size of the bore and stroke of the 16-278A engine is 8 3/4 inches and 10 1/2 inches respectively.

16-278A cutaway16-278A Lubrication

Cross SectionCylinder HeadSection Exhaust
Air Start SysEngine StartAir Valves
Fuel InjectionSyssection injectorInjectors

The machinery in the CANNON class Destroyer Escorts was very similar to the machinery that powered diesel electric submarines of the same period. Diesel engines drove DC generators that powered electric motors coupled directly to the propeller screws. Speed was controlled by a rheostat that varied the amount of current going to the motors. The first class, EVARTS, used these GM V-12 Diesels in Tandem and are referenced as General Motors Tandem Diesel or GMT. In the CANNON class the engines drove separate generators and was called Diesel Electric Turbine or DET. The EDSALL class used the Fairbanks-Morse Diesel Engine with final drive through a reduction gear and was coded FMR. Other classes, such as the BUCKLEY and RUDDEROW classes, used steam driven turbines to generate electricity for the drive motors and were referred to as TE and TEV. The BUTLER class used a Westinghouse geared steam turbine and were WGTs. The DETs had a longer range but were slower, and while the steam versions were faster they had shorter ranges. Consequently, the steam versions (TE, TEV and WGT) were typically with fleet operations in the Pacific while the GMTs, DETs and FMRs were used for Atlantic convoys.

Some information taken from Submarine Main Propulsion Systems, NAVPERS 16161, June 1946, as presented on the Bowfin site. Thanks also to MoMM2c George D. McCarthy of the USS Hilbert DE 742 who has provided extensive engine details.