This is one of the most successful early turboprop engines and was built by Rolls-Royce in the UK. In 1943 Rolls-Royce experimented with a turbine engine driving a propeller. This led to test flights of a RB53 (later named Dart) in a Lancaster bomber in 1947. To reduce weight the reduction gearbox was redesigned and the oil tank was made integral with the air intake housing.
The engine was chosen to power the Vickers Viscount airliner. The Viscount’s first flight in 1948 was followed by it being the first turbine-powered airliner in the world when it entered service in 1950.
The initial Dart engine in 1946 produced 990 hp. Final versions of the Dart produced over 3,400 horsepower (2535 kW). Over 7,000 engines were produced before the Dart went out of production after 40 years.
The Dart was used on the Vickers Viscount, Armstrong-Whitworth Argosy, Avro 748, Fokker F-27, Handley-Page Dart Herald, Grumman Gulfstream 1 and the NAMC YS-11. It was also used to convert Convair 440s to turboprop power, being known as the Convair 640.
The engine on display is from a Trans Canada Airlines Viscount 700 that was powered by four Rolls-Royce Dart 506 turboprop engines rated at 1400 horsepower (1044 kW).