The Napier Lion was a 12-cylinder 'broad arrow' W12 configuration aircraft engine built by D. Napier & Son from 1917 until the 1930s. A number of advanced features made it the most powerful engine of its day and kept it in production long after other contemporary designs had been superseded. It is particularly well known for its use on a number of racing designs, in aircraft, boats and cars.
Early in the First World War, Napier were contracted to build aero engines to designs from other companies, initially a Royal Aircraft Factory model and then Sunbeams. Both engines proved to be unreliable and in 1916 Napier decided to design an engine with high power, light weight and low frontal area. Napier's engineers laid out the engine with its 12 cylinders in what they called a "broad arrow"—three banks of four cylinders sharing a common crankcase. This suggested the design's first name, the Triple-Four. The configuration is also known as a W engine.
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