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DB 603
Preserved Daimler-Benz DB 603 with cutaway sections.

The Daimler-Benz DB 603 engine was a German aircraft engine used during World War 2. It was a liquid-cooled 12-cylinder inverted V12 enlargement of the DB 601, which was in itself a development of the DB 600. Production of the DB 603 commenced in May 1942,[1] and with a 44.52 litre displacement figure, was the largest displacement inverted V12 aviation engine to be produced and used in front line aircraft of the Third Reich during World War II.

The DB 603 powered several aircraft, including the Do 217 N&M, Do 335, He 219, Me 410 and Ta 152C.

Design and development

The Mercedes-Benz T80 land speed record car, designed by aircraft engineer Josef Mickl with assistance from Ferdinand Porsche and top German Grand Prix racing driver Hans Stuck, incorporated the third prototype DB 603. It was set up for the land speed record run attempt to operate on an exotic fuel mix based on a 63% methanol, 16% benzene and 12% ethanol content, with minor percentages of acetone, nitrobenzene, avgas and ether. Adding to the power output was a pioneering form of the Luftwaffe's later MW 50 methanol/water injection boost, and was tuned to 3,000 PS (2,959 hp, 2,207 kW)— enough, it was believed, to propel the aerodynamic three-axle T80 up to 750 km/h on a specially-prepared, nearly 10-kilometre (6.2 mi) length stretch of the roughly north/south oriented Reichsautobahn Berlin — Halle/Leipzig, which passed close to the east side of Dessau (now part of the modern A9 Autobahn) and with the actual length's location due south of Dessau, reworked to be 25 metres (82 ft) wide with a paved-over median, for the record to be set in January 1940 during Rekord Woche (Record/Speed Week). Due to the outbreak of the war in September 1939, the T80 (nicknamed Schwarzer Vogel, "Black Bird") never raced. The DB 603 engine was removed from the vehicle for use in fighter aircraft.


Production versions

DB 603E built in 1944, right-hand side view

  • DB 603A, rated altitude of 5.7 km, B4 fuel
Power (take-off): 1750 PS (1726 hp, 1287 kW) at 2700 rpm at sea level
Combat power: 1580 PS (1558 hp, 1162 kW) at 2500 rpm at sea level
  • DB 603AA DB 603A with an improved supercharger, rated altitude of 7.3 km, B4 fuel
Power (take-off): 1670 PS (1647 hp, 1228 kW) at 2700 rpm at sea level
Combat power: 1580 PS (1558 hp, 1162 kW) at 2500 rpm at sea level
  • DB 603E rated altitude of 7.0 km, B4 fuel
Power (take-off): 1800 PS (1775 hp, 1324 kW) at 2700 rpm at sea level
Combat power: 1575 PS (1553 hp, 1158 kW) at 2500 rpm at sea level

Prototypes and other versions

  • DB 603D, a DB 603A with propellers rotating counter-clockwise; production unknown
  • DB 603F, a DB 603E with propellers rotating counter-clockwise; production unknown
  • DB 603G (production cancelled)
Power (max): 1900 PS (1874 hp, 1397 kW) at 2700 rpm at sea level
Combat power: 1560 PS (1539 hp, 1147 kW) at 2700 rpm at sea level
  • DB 603L/LA (prototype with two-stage supercharger, B4 fuel)
Power (max): 2000 PS (1973 hp, 1471 kW)
  • DB 603N (prototype with two-stage supercharger, C3 fuel)
Power (max): 2800 PS (2762 hp, 2059 kW) at 3000 rpm at sea level
Continuous: 1930 PS (1904 hp, 1420 kW) at 2700 rpm at sea level
  • DB 603S (DB 603A with experimental TK-11 turbo-supercharger) - Used for the Heinkel He 274 prototype airframes.
Power (max): Not known.
  • DB 613 Series of experimental "power system" coupled side-by-side twinned DB 603s, arranged as the DB 606 and DB 610 had been previously, and meant to replace the 606 and 610, in prototype form only from March 1940 through 1943.
Power (max): Not known.
  • DB 614 a 2000 PS development.
  • DB 615 Coupled DB 614 engines
  • DB 617 A long-range derivative of the DB 603
  • DB 618 Coupled DB 617 engines
  • DB 622 A DB 603 with a two-stage supercharger and single-stage turbocharger
  • DB 623 A DB 603 with twin turbochargers
  • DB 624 A DB 603 with a two-stage supercharger and single-stage turbocharger
  • DB 626 A DB 603 with twin turbochargers and intercooler
  • DB 627 The DB 603 fitted with a two-stage supercharger and after-cooler.
  • DB 631 An abandoned three stage supercharged DB 603G.
  • DB 632 A projected development of the DB 603N with contra-rotating propellers.

All power data is given in metric horsepower as stated per manufacturer. Power (max) is Takeoff and Emergency power (5-min-rating), combat power is climb and combat power (30-min rating), continuous is without time limit.


Specifications (DB 603A)

Data from Jane's[3]

General characteristics

  • Type: 12-cylinder liquid-cooled supercharged inverted Vee aircraft piston engine
  • Bore: 162 mm (6.38 in)
  • Stroke: 180 mm (7.09 in)
  • Displacement: 44.52 L (2,716.9 in3)
  • Length: 2610.5 mm (102.8 in)
  • Diameter: 830 mm (32.7 in)
  • Dry weight: 920 kg (2,030 lb)


  • Supercharger: Gear-driven centrifugal type supercharger
  • Fuel system: Direct fuel injection
  • Cooling system: pressurized water cooling


  • Power output:
  • 1,287 kW (1,750 PS) for takeoff
  • 1,111 kW (1,510 PS) maximum continuous
  • Specific power: 26.7 kW/L (0.59 hp/in3)
  • Compression ratio: 7.5:1 left cylinder bank, 7.3:1 right cylinder bank
  • Specific fuel consumption: 0.288 kg/(kW·h) (0.474 lb/(hp·h))
  • Power-to-weight ratio: 1.29 kW/kg (0.79 hp/lb)

See also




  • Gunston, Bill. World Encyclopedia of Aero Engines. Cambridge, England. Patrick Stephens Limited, 1989. ISBN 1-85260-163-9
  • Jane's Fighting Aircraft of World War II. London. Studio Editions Ltd, 1989. ISBN 0-517-67964-7
  • Neil Gregor Daimler-Benz in the Third Reich. Yale University Press, 1998

External links

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