Types of Engine Cylinder Arrangement. Inline Engine, V Engine, Radial Engine, Delta Engine, Opposed Piston, Opposed Cylinder


Reciprocal engine can be classified on the basis of the arrangement of cylinder (Only applicable for multi-cylinder engine). Popular cylinder arrangements are described below

Before you read the following description, read: What is cylinder row and cylinder bank


In-line engine

inline engine animation

This is the most common in an automobile engine. This type of engine arrangement has only one cylinder bank. ie all cylinders of engine arranged in linearly, and all of them transmit power to a single crankshaft. Inline engine with four and six cylinders is popular in automotive industries.

Advantages inline engine
Design of engine block simple, cheaper.
Running of four-cylinder inline engine is smoother than the one or two cylinder engines.
Inline engine design does not need heavy counterweights.

Why inline engine arrangement not popular for high power cars?
Because of simplicity, inline engine is popular in economy cars. However, it suffers secondary imbalance and causes minor vibration in the smaller engine. This vibration also increases as the size and power of increases. For this reason, the powerful engine does not adopt inline arrangement

V engine

v engine animated

V engines have two cylinder banks and one crankshaft. It is literally the assembly of two inline engine arrangement (appear to be in "V" shape). This arrangement reduces the overall engine length, height and weight compared to the equivalent inline arrangement. Two cylinder banks inclined at an angle to each other and also each of them inclined to crankshaft. The angle between two cylinder banks is known as bank angle. In narrow bank angle V engines, cylinders are combined into a single cylinder block. Engine with more than six cylinder usually adopts this cylinder arrangement. Most high powered automobile use eight cylinder v engine (four engine is in inline on each side of V).

Radial Engine


In a radial engine, the cylinders arranged in equally spaced around the one crankshaft. Ie the cylinders are arranged radially in a circle. Pistons of these cylinders are coupled to the same crankshaft. The radial arrangement is widely used in large air crafts until gas turbine engines became predominant. In air cooled aircraft engine with 3, 5, 7 or 9 cylinders are used radial arrangement. For the higher capacity of engine multi-row radial engine is used.

Opposed cylinder engine/ Flat engine/ Boxer engine

Opposed cylinder engine animation
In this type of arrangement two cylinder banks (or two inline-engines) in the same plane but opposite side of the crankshaft. One of the advantages of an opposed cylinder engine is that it inherently well balanced. The type of engine arrangement found application in small aircraft.

Opposed piston engine

Opposed Piston engine animation

In this type of arrangement, single engine cylinder houses two piston and has no cylinder head. Each piston drives two separate crankshafts. The movement of piston made synchronised by coupling this two crankshaft. The type engine usually working on the principle of two-stroke engine. The advantages opposed piston includes, it get rid heavy cylinder head, and it is a well balanced arrangement. The opposed piston engine is used in large diesel plants.

Delta type engine/ Napier Deltic engine

delta engine

It is a combination of three opposed piston engine. The piston of this engine is coupled to three interlinked crankshafts.

X engine

x engine animation

This is a variation of V type with four banks of cylinder attached to the single crankshaft. This twinned V block engine has four banks and appeared as X shape. X type arrangement is extremely uncommon because of its complexity and weight.

H engine

h engine animated

In this type two opposed cylinder type is connected to two separate but interconnected crankshaft. It shows excellent mechanical balance.

U type engine

u engine animated

In u type engine, two separate straight engine joined by using gears or chains. It appears in the shape of U. This cylinder arrangement is uncommon as it is heavier than the similar V engine.

W engine

w engine animated

It is similar to V engine but it has three or four cylinder bank engine banks.


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