Welcome to VW Engine Conversions For Aircraft

Rev - Dec 06, 2017

By Jan Zumwalt (EAA #66327)


This website is dedicated to the conversion of VW
air cooled engines for homebuilt aircraft.


The Volkswagen air-cooled engine is an air-cooled boxer engine with four horizontally opposed cast-iron cylinders, cast aluminum alloy cylinder heads and pistons, magnesium crankcase, and forged steel crankshaft and connecting rods.

Variations of the engine were produced by Volkswagen plants worldwide from 1936 until 2006 for use in Volkswagen's own vehicles and industrial applications; i.e air compressors. Customers have adapted the engine for use in light aircraft and kit car applications. Horizontaly opposed engines (like all Type 1-4) are ideallly suited for aircraft use. This style of engine is sometimes refered to as a "boxer" engine because each piston pushes against an oppositely opposed piston, similar to two boxers trading punches.


  • Type 1, also known as T1, TI -  (Beetle,Karmann Ghia)
  • Type 2, also known as T2, TII - (Transporter Bus, Van, Vanagon)
  • Type 3, (Saloon/Sedan, Notchback, Fastback, Squareback)
  • Type 4, also known as T4, TIV - (VW 411/412, Porsche 912E/914/916, Transporter, Caravelle, Microbus, Vanagon)

Type 1

Like the Volkswagen Beetle, the first Volkswagen Transporters (bus) used the Volkswagen air-cooled 1.1 litre, DIN-rated 18 kW (24 PS, 24 bhp), air-cooled four-cylinder "boxer" engine mounted in the rear. The 22-kilowatt (29 PS; 29 bhp) version became standard in 1955.

Type 2

Another version of the Type 1 engine which developed 25 kilowatts (34 PS; 34 bhp) debuted exclusively on the Volkswagen Type 2 (T1) in 1959.

The second-generation Transporter, the Volkswagen Type 2 (T2) employed a 1.6 litres and 35 kilowatts (48 PS; 47 bhp). A "T2b" Type 2 was introduced by way of gradual change over three years. The 1971 Type 2 (1600cc ) featured dual intake ports on each cylinder head, and was DIN-rated at 37 kilowatts (50 PS; 50 bhp).

Type 3

The Volkswagen Type 3 (saloon/sedan, notch-back, fastback) was initially equipped with a 1.5-litre engine, displacing 1,493 cubic centimetres (91.1 cu in), based on the air-cooled flat-4 found in the Type 1. While the long block remained the same as the Type 1, the engine cooling was redesigned reducing the height of the engine profile, allowing greater cargo volume, and earning the nicknames of "Pancake" or "Suitcase" engine. This engine's displacement would later increase to 1.6 litres.

Originally a single- or dual-carburetor 1.5-litre engine (1500N, 33 kilowatts (45 PS; 44 bhp) or 1500S, 40 kilowatts (54 PS; 54 bhp)), the Type 3 engine received a larger displacement (1.6 litres) and modified in 1968 to include Bosch D-Jetronic electronic fuel injection as an option, making it the first mass-production consumer cars with such a feature (some sports/luxury cars with limited production runs previously had fuel injection).

Type 4

In 1968, Volkswagen introduced the Volkswagen Type 4. The model 411, and later the model 412 ( the fourth type of vehicle VW made), offered many new features to the Volkswagen lineup. The Type 4 was discontinued in 1974 when sales dropped, but the engine became the power plant for Volkswagen vehicles produced from 1972 to 1979: it continued in modified form in the later Vanagon which was air-cooled from 1980 until mid-1983.

Porsche discontinued the 914/6 variant in 1972 after production of 3,351 units; its place in the lineup was filled by a variant powered by a new 95 metric horsepower (70 kW; 94 bhp) 2.0-litre fuel-injected version of Volkswagen's Type 4 engine in 1973. For 1974, the 1.7-litre engine was replaced by a 76 metric horsepower (56 kW; 75 bhp) 1.8-litre, and the new Bosch L-Jetronic fuel injection system was added to American units to help with emissions control. 914 production ended in 1976. The 2.0-litre engine continued to be used in the Porsche 912E, which provided an entry-level model until the Porsche 924 was introduced.

Foreign Country Production

During the 1970s, in Brazil, Volkswagen made available the 1700 cc engine for its regular production car SP-2. The 1700 cc engine was identical to the 1600 cc version, but with enlarged cylinder bores.

Also in Australia, in remote opal mines, Volkswagen engines were modified to air compressors for jack hammers, etc. They used two cylinders on one side as a motor, and modified the head on the other side to produce a flow of compressed air. The opal fields are very dry and hot, so an air-cooled compressor has an advantage over liquid-cooled. Beginning in 1987, Dunn-Right Incorporated of Anderson, South Carolina has made a kit to perform the compressor conversion.

Industrial Use

Volkswagen AG (Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft = Shareholder Corp) and later under its Volkswagen Industrial Motor brand, has officially offered air-cooled boxer engines for use in industrial applications since 1950 Available in 18 kilowatts (24 PS; 24 bhp), 22 kilowatts (30 PS; 30 bhp), 25 kilowatts (34 PS; 34 bhp), 31 kilowatts (42 PS; 42 bhp), 33 kilowatts (45 PS; 44 bhp) and 46 kilowatts (63 PS; 62 bhp) outputs, from displacements of 1.2 litres (73 cu in) to 1.8 litres (110 cu in). The Industrial air-cooled engines were officially discontinued in 1991.

Partial list of VW Powered Aircraft


Aerosport Quail
Airdrome Bleriot Model XI
Airdrome Fantasy Twin
Airdrome Fokker DR-1
Airdrome Fokker D-VI
Airdrome Fokker D-VII
Airdrome Fokker D-VIII
Airdrome Nieuport 11
Airdrome Nieuport 24
Airdrome Taube
AirLony Skylane
Airmotive EOS 001
Akaflieg Saurier
Altair Coelho AC-11
Aurore MB 04 Souris Bulle
Bensen B-8
BK Fliers BK-1
Bounsall Super Prospector
Boyd G.B.1
Bradley Aerobat
Cassutt Special
Circa Nieuport 11
CircaNieuport 17
Corby Starlet
Denney Kitfox
Druine Turbulent
Evans VP-1 Volksplane
Evans VP-2 Volksplane
Falconar F9A
Falconar F11 Sporty
Fisher Avenger V
Fisher Youngster
Flaglor Sky Scooter
Flitzer Z-21
Great Plains Easy Eagle
Harmon Der Donnerschlag
Harmon Mister America
Hummel H5
Hummel Ultracruiser Plus
JPM 01 M├ędoc
Junqua Ibis
Just Superstol
Mignet Pou-du-Ciel
Mini-Hawk Tiger-Hawk
Kolb M3X
Leger Pataplume 1
Light Miniature LM-5
Milholland Legal Eagle
Mini Coupe
Monnett Sonerai
Nicollier Menestrel
Parker Jeanie's Teenie
Parrish Dart
Pazmany PL-4A
Pober Pixie
Pottier P.40
Pottier P.130 Coccinelle
Preceptor STOL King
Preceptor Ultra Pup
Preceptor Stinger
QAC Quickie Q2
RagWing RW1 Ultra-Piet
RagWing RW7 Duster
Rand Robinson KR-1
Rand Robinson KR-2S
Sisler SF-2A Cygnet
Sonex Aircraft Onex
Sonex Aircraft Sonex
Southern Aero Renegade
Southern Aero Scamp
Stewart Headwind
Stolp SA-500 Starlet
Taiwan Dancer TD-3
Tipsy Nipper
Taylor Monoplane
Thatcher CX4
Vidor Champion V
Viking Dragonfly
Zenair CH 100