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Ateliers de Pantin? (aero-engined Veritas)


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#1 r.atlos

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Posted 21 August 2007 - 23:22

When talking recently about the ex-Rosenhammer / Fitzau Veritas I had briefly mentioned that it had been converted in 1953 to an aero engine. (see: http://forums.autosp...&threadid=96145 )

This is a subject which is still pretty unclear and I thought that some of our members who also have a foot in aviation could possibly help here.

The facts:

Heinz Melkus was the subsequent owner of the ex-Rosenhammer / Fitzau Veritas; when running it at Avus on 12/07/1953, his Alfa engine threw a conrod (if my memory serves me well) and was apparently beyond repair. In time for the next major event at the Sachsenring on 23/08/1953 he installed what was described as an

“air-cooled two cylinder four-stroke boxer engine of French origin, a surplus from the war”.

Period reports say that it had been sleeved down to the then-class limit of 1500 cc and that its compression ratio had been reduced (in order to run on car fuel instead of Avgas, I suppose).

In a later documentation this engine was referred to as “Ateliers de Pantin”. What we clearly know is that there has never been an aero engine producer either called Pantin or located in the town of Pantin, north of Paris (and, BTW, not far from Le Bourget).

However, this term hints towards the in-house construction and maintenance organisation of the French forces. There have been “arsenals” (or “arsenaux” in French) which overlooked design and construction of weapons and equipment (I guess some of the naval “arsenaux” like Brest or Lorient may still be in operation today; aero engine “arsenaux” must have become part of SNECMA; explosives must have become part of SNPE, if my recollection is correct). At the level of maintenance and servicing (but also sub-manufacture for an arsenal), there have been a number of “ateliers”.

Now, as this engine was referred to as “Ateliers de Pantin” I suppose that it may have been re-built or serviced there at some point and that the name was taken from some kind of type plate. However, I cannot find any trace of a previous military “atelier” of any kind in Pantin. What’s striking, though, is that Pantin has been the home of Motobécane, a producer of light motorcycles for many years.

And here are my questions:

- Does anybody recall an air-cooled aero engine of the description above ?

[Being able to sleeve it down to 1500 cc, I would reckon that its original displacement has not been much more than 2000 cc. Must have been for a very light plane (trainer, motor glider or something along these lines), anyhow. If we assume that the engine has only been rebuilt / serviced in France it may not necessarily be of French origin; could be e.g. of US or British origin just as well.]

- Does anybody recall “Ateliers de Pantin” – even if they have been active in some other kind of military equipment ?

- Any idea what had happened to Motobécane during the war ? I suppose a factory with that kind of equipment may not have laid idle neither during the German occupation, nor directly after the liberation.


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#2 uechtel

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Posted 22 August 2007 - 11:56

Originally posted by r.atlos
[Being able to sleeve it down to 1500 cc, I would reckon that its original displacement has not been much more than 2000 cc. Must have been for a very light plane (trainer, motor glider or something along these lines), anyhow. If we assume that the engine has only been rebuilt / serviced in France it may not necessarily be of French origin; could be e.g. of US or British origin just as well.]


Motobecane seems an interesting trace. To me it would be also very likely that they were forced to work for German war production, so the engine could have well been of German origin either.

#3 uechtel

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Posted 22 August 2007 - 12:17

Found someting via google:

Posted Image

Caption: "This small (French) engine carries "Societé Centrale Pantin"

But I am afraid that is not the kind of engine type we are looking for...

#4 Michael Müller

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Posted 22 August 2007 - 19:47

The Veritas should have 2 rather large bubbles in the engine cover.... :lol:

#5 uechtel

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Posted 24 August 2007 - 06:55

Try google maps, the distance between Pantin and Genevilliers is a mere 13.2 km. Both locations are situated west and southeast of Paris-St. Denis.

Why Genevilliers? Thinking of French aeroplane engines of course the Gnome Rhone is the first thing that comes into my mind and it was situated at Genevilliers.

So perhaps this helps.

But I don´t know much about the Gnome Rhone product line. Thought they would only have [don´t know the English word; Sternmotoren in German]? Or does anybody know better?

So perhaps the Melkus-Pantin is only two cylinders extracted from that?

#6 r.atlos

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Posted 24 August 2007 - 19:29

The problem is that Paris outskirts are cramped with automotive, motorcycle and aeronautic history - all sometimes at very short distances one from another.

As to Gnome & Rhône, I have always seen them as producers of radial engines (that's what "Sternmotore" are called in English; in French it is "moteur radial" or "moteurs radiaux" en pluriel) and I have, so far, not been able to substantiate any links to Pantin despite the short distance.

A radial engine is, by the way, something that cannot be "cut in half" (as one could do e.g. with a V8) as it always requires an impair number of cylinders; please see here: http://en.wikipedia....i/Radial_engine

I cannot help but the animated cutaway view top right somehow reminds me of Alonso doing his embarrassing "dance" at one Bahrain GP ...

#7 T54

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Posted 24 August 2007 - 19:47

Here could be your answer:

Construit vers 1945 par les établissements Fouga d’Aire-sur-l’Adour (là où naquit le Fouga Magister), entré en service en 1946 dans l’armée de l’air pour la formation de base des pilotes, le Mauboussin 123 C était alors équipé d’un moteur français Minié de 4 cylindres à plat (copie du Continental 65 ch), d’une fiabilité plus que douteuse et qui laissa pas mal de cuisants souvenirs dans les aéroclubs de l’époque…


The Minié was a copy of the 65HP Continental, never worked too well. Here is one:

Posted Image

This is the only flat-4 aero or other engine I know of made in France in that era. Of course there were the Citroen prototypes for the DS, but that was later and they were not aero engines. Renault tried a flat-4 before the war in a Caudron prototype but it never worked properly and Caudron stuck to the inlines.

I was not able to find if the Minié engines were made in Pantin. I can absolutely certify that Motobecane had nothing to do with such an engine because during the war they were making... cotton! The manufacturing of motorcycles re-started in 1946 and there was no new tooling, all the pre-war stuff was used for a while.
Regards,

T54

#8 r.atlos

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Posted 24 August 2007 - 22:48

Thanks, T54 - if only it had been a flat-4 !! I did, in fact, find quite a number of small period planes using flat-4s (primarily Lycoming and Continental - have to admit I did not yet know about the Continental / Fouga link, though) but our "candidate" has been a flat-2. This is something really weird as flat-2s are usually not considered for small aircrafts due to their intrinsic vibrations.

#9 T54

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Posted 24 August 2007 - 23:05

Only Panhard or Citroen built such animals but they certainly weren't war surplus. I cannot find any trace of a twin, only the 4-cylinder.
So back to square one unless someone did not count all the cylinders inside the Veritas...

#10 r.atlos

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Posted 24 August 2007 - 23:44

Just to put things into perspective and to take a look at what we might consider "small" aircrafts and what type of engines they had:

- Fieseler Fi 156C ("Storch") : Argus As-10-C3 (inverted V8, 12,700 cc; delivering 240 hp)
- Pilatus P2: Argus As-410-A2 (V12, 465 hp)
- Dornier Do27: Lycoming GO-480-B1A6 (aircooled flat-6 of 7,900 cc displacement)
- Cessna 152: Lycoming O-235 (aircooled flat-4, 3,800 cc; 115 hp)
- Bücker 131 ("Jungmann") or 181 ("Bestmann") : Hirth HM504 (4-in-line, 105 hp)
- Piper J3c-65 Cub or L4J "Grasshopper": Continental A65 (aircooled 4-flat, 2,800 cc; 65 hp)

This is just a quick glance but it brings home the fact that even for "small" aircrafts engines are of "huge" displacement by automotive standards. That's one of the key points which troubles me with the descripton of our "Ateliers de Pantin" engine.

#11 T54

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Posted 25 August 2007 - 00:55

There is also the French CEMEC, they began by repairing BMW and Zundapp flat-twin confiscated as war damage from Germany, but they started in 1947. The company was later purchased by Ratier and manufactured motorcycles for the French police and army. Could it have been a CEMEC/BMW or Zundapp 500cc engine? Sounds a bit too small to get even a lightweight Veritas to move at any decent speed. Besides the CEMEC never had a bad reputation.

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#12 francoisb123

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Posted 25 August 2007 - 19:29

:confused:
Why not to be fool?
In those times André Chardonnet (yes, Lancia's guy, well known Andruet Stratos team manager) was French dealer for Veritas, and Mahle + BMW parts...in Pantin.
Something to do with that? Special engine tried?

#13 r.atlos

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Posted 25 August 2007 - 22:10

Chardonnet with his huge network of contacts and being based at Pantin has also been one consideration to look at - unfortunately to no avail. Timelines do not fit and by no means it would explain the "producer's" name read from the engine or a type plate.

His links have primarily been first hand contacts - Jean Lefèvre (or is "Lefèbvre" the correct spelling ?) and Ernst Loof. Chardonnet created a company called "M.E.T.E.O.R." to disguise a couple of Veritas imported into France in 1948/49 and turned to other things when Veritas disappeared for good in August 1953 - at about the same time when Heinz Melkus picked up his "Ateliers de Pantin" engine from an East-German scrap yard.

#14 dretceterini

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Posted 26 August 2007 - 02:04

Originally posted by r.atlos
Chardonnet with his huge network of contacts and being based at Pantin has also been one consideration to look at - unfortunately to no avail. Timelines do not fit and by no means it would explain the "producer's" name read from the engine or a type plate.

His links have primarily been first hand contacts - Jean Lefèvre (or is "Lefèbvre" the correct spelling ?) and Ernst Loof. Chardonnet created a company called "M.E.T.E.O.R." to disguise a couple of Veritas imported into France in 1948/49 and turned to other things when Veritas disappeared for good in August 1953 - at about the same time when Heinz Melkus picked up his "Ateliers de Pantin" engine from an East-German scrap yard.


No intention to turn this thread in another direction, but could there be any connection to the Italian coachbuilder of just after WW2, also named Meteor?

#15 r.atlos

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Posted 26 August 2007 - 07:49

Sorry to disappoint you. There is a book and loads of articles on Chardonnet which cover his early involvement with Veritas, how and where he set up M.E.T.E.O.R., there are photographs of his first stand at the Salon d'Automobile 1949 in Paris ...

Not that it would not leave questions unanswered but I wished more of the Veritas history was documented like that ...

#16 uechtel

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Posted 27 August 2007 - 22:19

Originally posted by r.atlos
[B]Chardonnet with his huge network of contacts and being based at Pantin has also been one consideration to look at - unfortunately to no avail. Timelines do not fit and by no means it would explain the "producer's" name read from the engine or a type plate.

I agree with you with the timelines and also that it is hard to imagine contact between East German Melkus and Chardonnet. But you refer to the engine designation on a type plate and I think we have to be careful here. I think all we know is, that somebody called it a "Pantin", but we don´t know the reason. Perhaps it is only a conclusion by somebody else or even some kind of misunderstanding. So I think we should open our search for all types of engine of such configuration.

Also why my thoughts tended towards Gnome & Rhone was that Veritas director Dietrich had been there during the war. So maybe he brought along some scrap from there. All this of course only hopeless speculations...

And can you tell me the title of that book, please?

#17 GIGLEUX

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Posted 27 August 2007 - 22:31

"Chardonnet, l'automobile c'est l'aventure" by Edouard Seidler; published in 1989 by ePA; ISBN 2-851120-311-8.

#18 uechtel

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Posted 28 August 2007 - 08:08

Merci!

:wave:

#19 uechtel

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Posted 01 October 2008 - 18:23

Finally with the appearance of this book http://www.amazon.de...22884854&sr=8-1 we are glad to see a picture of this engine:

Posted ImagePosted Image

Perhaps this can help for identification?

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#20 D-Type

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Posted 10 October 2009 - 20:20

I found this thread while looking for something else. Could the "Pantin" engine have been some sort of auxiliary engine? Possibly for starting aircraft? Just a thought.

#21 uechtel

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Posted 13 October 2009 - 10:01

From private correspondence I have the info, that the engine is badged La Polymechanique Pantin. Further investigations brought the information, that this company was taken over by Motobecane in 1928 and that among other things they had to produce fire pump engines during the war.

http://autothink.net...b...p;tb=1&pb=1

Further information from the correspondence is, that they should also have produced four cylinder radial engines for airplanes, which 1. seems not to make sense (radial engines should have odd-numbered cylinders) and 2. I could not find any evidence for this statement so far.

So at least we have a manufacturer now, but the model and the original purpose of the engine are still unresolved.

Edited by uechtel, 13 October 2009 - 10:03.


#22 Peter Morley

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Posted 16 October 2009 - 10:47

The latest issue (November) of Classic & Sports Car has an article on Gregoire's aluminium chassied AFG economy cars from the 1940s (which are in the Le-Mans museum).
There is a photo of the air-cooled flat-twin engine that is different but shares some similarities.
Given the number of companies who looked into mass-producing these cars could there be some connection with these?


#23 uechtel

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Posted 16 October 2009 - 14:01

The engine in question is much larger. The report says it had to be REDUCED to 1500 cc.