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 Rolls-Royce RB.53 Dart is a turboprop engine designed and manufactured by Rolls-Royce Limited. First run in 1946, it powered the Vickers Viscount on its maiden flight in 1948. A flight on July 29 of that year, which carried 14 paying passengers between Northolt and Paris–Le Bourget Airport in a Dart-powered Viscount, was the first regularly scheduled airline flight by a turbine-powered aircraft.[1] The Viscount was the first turboprop-powered aircraft to enter airline service - British European Airways (BEA) in 1953.

The Dart was still in production forty years later when the last Fokker F27 Friendships and Hawker Siddeley HS 748s were produced in 1987.

Following the company's convention for naming gas turbine engines after rivers, this turboprop engine design was named after the River Dart.


Designed in 1946 by a team led by Lionel Haworth, the Dart engine was derived using experience gained from the earlier more powerful Rolls-Royce Clyde turboprop. A two-stage centrifugal compressor was specified to achieve the desired overall pressure ratio. A 3 stage, shared load, axial turbine was used to drive both the load (via a reduction gearbox) and the compression system. A photo showing a cutaway section of typical Dart engine is given below.

Unlike the Clyde, the engine lacked a free power turbine. Consequently, under normal operating conditions, the power delivered to the propeller could not be modulated at a fixed prop speed.[2]

The Dart was initially rated at 890 shp and first flew in October 1947 mounted to the nose of a converted Avro Lancaster.

Improvements in the design boosted power output to 1,400 shp in the RDa.3, which went into production for the Viscount in 1952. The RDa.6 increased power to 1,600 shp and the RDa.7 to 1,800 shp by incorporating various improvements including a larger diameter second impeller.

Later Darts were rated up to 3,245 shp and remained in production until 1987, with approximately 7,100 produced, flying some 170 million hours.[3]

The Dart was also produced under licence in India by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited.[4]

Haworth and his team later went on to design and develop the larger and more powerful Rolls-Royce Tyne.[5]


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[6]
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
Rolls-Royce Darts on a Vickers Viscount

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 boosted power in hot and high altitude conditions.

Engines on display

Rolls Royce Dart Engine on Display at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona

Specifications (Dart RDa.7)

Rolls-Royce Dart Turboprop engine, cut-away display

Data from Jane's All The World's Aircraft 1965–66.[16]

General characteristics



See also

Comparable engines

Related lists



  1. ^ Turner 1968, p. 9.
  2. ^ https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/media/5422ef5f40f0b6134200023b/dft_avsafety_pdf_500083.pdf
  3. ^ "World Encyclopedia of Aero Engines – 5th edition" by Bill Gunston, Sutton Publishing, 2006, p.195
  4. ^ Taylor 1982, p. 736.
  5. ^ "World Encyclopedia of Aero Engines – 5th edition" by Bill Gunston, Sutton Publishing, 2006, p.197
  6. ^ "gear box | strut gear | oil tank | 1953 | 0371 | Flight Archive". www.flightglobal.com. Archived from the original on 19 May 2015.
  7. ^ "Tails Through Time: The Turboprop B-17 Flying Fortress". www.tailsthroughtime.com. Archived from the original on 25 March 2016. Retrieved 5 April 2016.
  8. ^ Johnsen, Frederick. "Airailimages.com". Kenneth G. Johnsen.
  9. ^ Royal Air Force Museum Cosford – Rolls-Royce Dart Archived 4 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine www.rafmuseum.org.uk Retrieved: 31 July 2012
  10. ^ "GATWICK AVIATION MUSEUM - AERO ENGINES". www.gatwick-aviation-museum.co.uk. Archived from the original on 14 February 2004.
  11. ^ "Rolls-Royce Dart Mk. 520 Turboprop Engine, Cutaway | National Air and Space Museum". airandspace.si.edu. Archived from the original on 20 September 2015.
  12. ^ "Rolls-Royce Dart 506".
  13. ^ "Rolls Royce Dart". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  14. ^ "Aviation Heritage Museum | Bull Creek, Perth".
  15. ^ "Engines List". City of Norwich Aviation Museum. Retrieved 27 August 2023.
  16. ^ 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.