Open main menu

The Rolls-Royce RB.53 Dart is a long-lived British turboprop engine designed, built and manufactured by Rolls-Royce Limited. First run in 1946, it powered the first Vickers Viscount maiden flight in 1948, and in the Viscount was the first turboprop engine to enter airline service, with British European Airways (BEA), in 1950. On 29 July 1948 a flight between Northolt and Paris–Le Bourget Airport with 14 paying passengers in a Dart-powered Viscount was the first scheduled airline flight by any turbine-powered aircraft.[1]

Rolls-Royce Dart RDa. 3 Mk506
Type Turboprop
Manufacturer Rolls-Royce Limited
First run 1946
Major applications Avro 748
Breguet Alizé
Fokker F27
Grumman Gulfstream I
Vickers Viscount
Number built more than 7,100

The Dart was still in production when the last Fokker F27 Friendships and Hawker Siddeley HS 748s were produced in 1987. Following the company convention for naming gas turbine engines after rivers, this turboprop design was named after the River Dart.


Designed in 1946 with a two-stage centrifugal compressor by a team under Lionel Haworth using experience gained with the earlier Rolls-Royce Clyde, the Dart engine was initially rated at 890 shp and first flew in the nose of a converted Avro Lancaster in October 1947. Improvements in design led to the Dart RDa.3 of 1,400 shp which went into production for the Viscount in 1952. The RDa.6 increased this rating to 1,600 shp, and the RDa.7, thanks to a three-stage turbine, increased this to 1,800 shp.[2]

Later Darts were rated up to 3,245 ehp, remaining in production until 1987, with some 7,100 having been produced having flown some 170 million flying hours.[2]

The Dart was also produced under licence in India by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited.[3]

Haworth and his team later went on to design and develop the larger and more powerful Rolls-Royce Tyne.[4]


As well as the RB.53 designation each mark of Dart engine was allocated a Ministry of Supply (MoS) "RDa.n" number as well as Mk.numbers.

Initial prototype engines – 1,250 shp plus 300lb residual thrust[5]
Initial production engines
1,480 hp (1,103.64 kW) estimated power – 1,345 hp (1,002.97 kW) shaft power + 350 lbf (1.56 kN) residual thrust at 14,500 rpm
1,670 hp (1,245.32 kW) estimated power – 1,535 hp (1,144.65 kW) shaft power + 350 lbf (1.56 kN) residual thrust at 14,500 rpm
1,815 hp (1,353.45 kW) estimated power – 1,630 hp (1,215.49 kW) shaft power + 480 lbf (2.14 kN) residual thrust at 15,000 rpm
1,910 hp (1,424.29 kW) estimated power – 1,730 hp (1,290.06 kW) shaft power + 470 lbf (2.09 kN) residual thrust at 15,000 rpm
2,020 hp (1,506.31 kW) estimated power – 1,835 hp (1,368.36 kW) shaft power + 485 lbf (2.16 kN) residual thrust at 15,000 rpm
RDa.7 Mk 21
2,099 hp (1,565.22 kW) estimated power - used for Bréguet 1050 Alizé
RDa.7/2 Mk.529
2,100 hp (1,565.97 kW) estimated power – 1,910 hp (1,424.29 kW) shaft power + 495 lbf (2.20 kN) residual thrust at 15,000 rpm
2,555 hp (1,905.26 kW) estimated power – 2,305 hp (1,718.84 kW) shaft power + 670 lbf (2.98 kN) residual thrust at 15,000 rpm
3,030 hp (2,259.47 kW) estimated power – 2,750 hp (2,050.67 kW) shaft power + 750.4 lbf (3.34 kN) residual thrust at 15,000 rpm
3,245 hp (2,419.80 kW) estimated power at 15,000 rpm, with Water/Methanol injection for the Hawker-Siddeley HS.748MF Andover C Mk.1.


A Rolls-Royce Dart mounted on a Fokker F27 Friendship.

Largely associated with the very successful Vickers Viscount medium-range airliner, it powered a number of other European and Japanese designs of the 1950s and 60s and was also used to convert American-manufactured piston aircraft to turboprop power. The list includes:

Power output was around 1,500 hp (1,120 kW) in early versions, and close to twice that in later versions, such as those that powered the NAMC YS-11 airliner. Some versions of the engine were fitted with water methanol injection, which acted as a power restorative in hot and high conditions.

Engines on displayEdit

Specifications (Dart RDa.7)Edit

Rolls-Royce Dart Turboprop engine, cut-away display

Data from Jane's All The World's Aircraft 1965–66.[14]

General characteristics

  • Type: Turboprop
  • Length: 97.6 in (2,480 mm)
  • Diameter: 37.9 in (960 mm)
  • Dry weight: 1,207 lb (547 kg) (dry)


  • Compressor: Two-stage centrifugal compressor
  • Combustors: 7 straight-flow combustion chambers with ignitors in No 3 and 7 chambers
  • Turbine: 3-stage axial turbine
  • Fuel type: Kerosene
  • Oil system: Self contained, 25 pint (14 L) capacity oil tank


See alsoEdit



  1. ^ Turner 1968, p. 9.
  2. ^ a b "World Encyclopedia of Aero Engines – 5th edition" by Bill Gunston, Sutton Publishing, 2006, p.195
  3. ^ Taylor 1982, p. 736.
  4. ^ "World Encyclopedia of Aero Engines – 5th edition" by Bill Gunston, Sutton Publishing, 2006, p.197
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Tails Through Time: The Turboprop B-17 Flying Fortress". Retrieved 5 April 2016.
  7. ^ Johnsen, Frederick. "". Kenneth G. Johnsen.
  8. ^ Royal Air Force Museum Cosford – Rolls-Royce Dart Retrieved: 31 July 2012
  9. ^ [1]
  10. ^ [2]
  11. ^ [3]
  12. ^ [4]
  13. ^ [5]
  14. ^ Taylor 1965, pp. 485–6.


  • Gunston, Bill. World Encyclopedia of Aero Engines. Cambridge, England. Patrick Stephens Limited, 1989. ISBN 1-85260-163-9
  • Taylor, John W. R. Jane's All The World's Aircraft 1965–66. London: Sampson Low, Marston & Company Ltd, 1965.
  • Taylor, John W. R. Jane's All The World's Aircraft 1982–83. London: Jane's Yearbooks, 1982. ISBN 0-7106-0748-2.
  • Turner, P. St. John. Handbook of the Vickers Viscount. London: Ian Allan, 1968. ISBN 978-0711000520.

External linksEdit