Many flight enthusiasts appreciate the fact that while commercial air travel has made great advancements in speed and safety for larger passenger and cargo loads, the basic progression in the history of flight has remained relatively close to initial developments for propulsion. This is especially true when considering Pratt and Whitney’s R-985 and R-1340 radial engine designs, as the initial specs and configuration have undergone minimal changes since they were developed in the 1920s and 1930s. This is also highly due to the effectiveness of a piston driven flight engine that was capable of considerable horsepower.
Although both of these radial engines follow the same configuration, differences in the size of the array do make each of the engines more applicable to a variety of aircraft sizes. The R-1340 can produce up to 600 hp with up to 2250 rpm, while the smaller and lighter R-985 is capable of up to 350 hp with close to 2300 rpm. This makes both engines an option on smaller to mid-sized aircraft, with a reliability in function that has been trusted by the military and commercial carriers for nearly a century.
Venturing To New Horizons
A large number of homebuilt and experimental aircraft will utilize radial engines in their designs, since these mechanical marvels can still be considered some of the easiest engines to maintain and to modify for improved flight. Changes to the arrays will generally involve reducing piston binding, modulating power to the props, and generally developing a craft body that is more conducive to sustainable flying. The radial engines, however, can still be considered the strong foundation that inspires these attempts at enhancing the flight experience.
One of the other reasons that the R-985 and R-1340 engines are also popular in experimental designs is because they give many pilots a better sense of control over the craft. The basic mechanical concepts of these engines translate to a comprehension of performance that is also easier to monitor during an experimental flight, and this allows for further changes in design to produce a better overall airplane.