Project X: Forty-seven Rotary Engineers



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Project X: Forty-seven Rotary Engineers




Project X: Page 1

(Narrator)



In 1967 one beautiful sports car was unveiled. The rotary engine that was once heralded as a dream engine was installed in the car. No engineer in the world had ever realised it. The rotary engine which core unit rotates inside, was far more powerful than the existing engines. It was a small engine with a hidden potential.
An automaker in Hiroshima set about developing the engine. They had a special feeling about the rotary engine.
The entire city of Hiroshima was instantly destroyed by an atomic bomb. The development of the engine was initiated in the city where everything had been lost. Kenichi Yamamoto who lost his family in the bombing had a leading role in the engine's development. He promised to help Hiroshima recover and was absorbed in his work.
Forty-seven young engineers gathered. They were called the "47 rotary engineers."
The rotary engine, "a miracle in Hiroshima." Those men led a rapidly changing life, working for the engine and praying for the recovery of their hometown.
--Studio--
(Female)

"Project X: Challenges to dreams." Tonight, we’ll focus on the development of the rotary engine that was called the dream engine. There was a spectacular drama behind this project.


We’ll report the story in two parts.
(Male)

This is the rotary-engined sports car.


(Female)

lt’s cool. And its design is new.


(Male)

I was a student in 1967. Young people really admired this car and wished they could drive it just once with a young woman beside them in the passenger seat. Let's look at the engine. It's in the front. This is the rotary engine. It is about two-thirds the size of an ordinary piston engine. As it is small, high-powered, and quiet, it is ideal for sports cars.


(Female)

For 200 years it had been quite difficult for engineers in the world to develop the rotary engine. Here are the engineers who succeeded in the mass production of the engine. They are a Hiroshima-born gifted engineer, 47 young rotary engineers, and a noted President.


(Narrator)

Hiroshima, where one million people live, is the centre of the Chugoku Region. Fifty-five years ago, the city suffered the worst tragedy in human history. About 140,000 people were killed by an atomic bomb. The city was like a hell.
Mount Hijiyama with a height of 70 meters is located 2.4 km southeast of the hypocenter. Toyo Kogyo established in 1920, was a local manufacturer of three-wheel trucks. The company miraculously escaped damage from the atomic bomb, shielded by Mount Hijiyama. But the company was changed into a first-aid station. The factory was crowded with people searching for their families.
A young man rushed back home to Hiroshima Prefecture. He was 23 year old Kenichi Yamamoto. He was mobilised for labour services to a military factory in lbaragi Prefecture. He walked around the city, searching for his family. Hiroshima was a burnt-out area. He finally found his family, but what he discovered was a horrible sight. His mother had lost her hair and was ill in bed, and his beloved younger sister was killed instantly due to direct exposure to the radiation.
(Yamamoto)

I was shocked to hear of the death of my sister. I was devastated. I didn't know what to do, or how to go on.


(Narrator)

Yamamoto once studied engineering, hoping to develop aircrafts. But with the bomb he had lost everything. He was past caring. He got drunk in the black market every night and had words with people time after time. However, in spite of her illness, his mother searched for work for him. It was her acquaintance who introduced him to Toyo Kogyo.
Two hundred employees of Toyo Kogyo were killed by the bomb. However, the company restarted manufacturing three wheelers four months after the war. Administrative offices such as the Prefectural Office and the court rented rooms in the company. Toyo Kogyo was the key position for the recovery of Hiroshima.

Yamamoto thought little of the company as a three-wheel truck maker. Interviewers were angry at his remarks that the design department was the only place where he could show his ability. He was assigned to the assembly line. He made mistakes repeatedly, for he was uninterested in his job. He was scolded by senior workers every day.
He was about to quit his job, but one Sunday, he saw three-wheel trucks loaded with materials for the city recovery effort all around the city centre. Everyone was working hard to rebuild the city.
(Yamamoto)

I was very happy to see our trucks delivering materials and people working passionately. I felt that I was performing a role in the recovery of my hometown and country in some way or another.


(Narrator)




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