(Click on image to see animation) Inline - The cylinders are arranged in a line in a single bank.

The Basic Idea

If you have read How Car Engines Work, then you are familiar with the concept behind the four-stroke engine. Car engines arrange pistons in three typical patterns, as shown here:

(Click on image to see animation) V - The cylinders are arranged in two banks set at an angle to one another.

(Click on image to see animation) Flat - The cylinders are arranged in two banks on opposite sides of the engine.

Each different configuration has different smoothness, manufacturing cost and shape characteristics that make it more suitable for certain vehicles.

A radial engine is yet another configuration for the pistons, as we will see in the next section.