The Radial Engine: There’s No Beating a Classic

When it comes to airplane engines, radial engines are the true classic

radial aircraft enginesEver since Louis Bleriot crossed the English Channel in 1909, the radial engine has been an integral part of modern aviation.   Their simple yet powerful design has been improved upon throughout the 1900’s, but the basic principles behind the airplane engine have remained constant. Pratt and Whitney R-985 and R-1340 radial engines were designed starting in the 1920’s, and have withstood the test of time.  Many of these radial engines are still in use today, thanks to companies like ours who are able to perform the overhaul and maintenance required for these masterpieces.

The R-1340 radial engine was Pratt and Whitney’s first foray into airplane engines, and approximately 35,000 engines were produced.  The next engine to be mass-produced was the R-985.  This engine was manufactured from the 1930’s to the 1950’s, and over 39,000 of them were made.

Radial engines played a major part in the First World War, outlasting and outperforming rotary engines over time.  The R-985 and R-1340 engines became the standard aircraft engine for World War II, powering airplanes used in basic training as well as military versions of civil aircraft.  After the war, R-985 engines were used in various smaller civil and military airplanes, including utility aircraft, small transports and agricultural aircraft.  Their simple design and reliability made them popular among airplane enthusiasts around the country.

Today, you’ll find most R-985 and R-1340 engines in bush planes and agricultural aircraft, as well as on WarBirds.  Parts for these engines are still available on the market, but repair and overhaul of R-985 and R-1340 radial engines requires a skilled technician.  As a certified FAA Repair Station, our Radial Engine Division is the largest R-985 and R-1340 overhaul facility in the world, and we pride ourselves on being true artisans when it comes to overhaul and maintenance of radial engines.

So, if you’ve got a plane with one of these engineering marvels, be sure to entrust its maintenance to a facility that specializes in the radial engine.  They can keep your engine running for years to come.

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