Category Archives: R-1340

Pratt & Whitney’s R-1340 is The Only Aircraft Engine to be Designated an Historic Landmark

The Wasp Engine’s Great Leap Forward

Advances in propulsion are what drive aviation development. Innovative airplanes almost always start with innovative engines, and the airframes follow. In 2016, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers celebrated just such an engine. The society designated the Pratt & Whitney R-1340 Wasp a technology landmark, the organization’s highest award, because the Wasp singlehandedly brought about a leap forward in aircraft performance and economics. The tale of its development is still fascinating.

R1340WaspNumber1
Wasp no. 1 never flew, but the Navy bought 200 after ground tests. (NASM (2014-04858))

The story can be told as a series of meetings among ambitious young designers, dealmakers with burning needs, and inflexible government contractors. The Wasp’s manufacturer, Pratt & Whitney, was at the time a humble machine tool company with no connection whatsoever to aviation. Thanks to a risky bet on an unproven technology, today it’s one of the world’s dominant builders of airplane engines.

At the center of the Wasp’s creation was Frederick Rentschler, scion of a well-connected Ohio industrial family. The family probably assumed that the dutiful son, who’d grown up working in their foundry, would one day inherit and run the family automobile engine manufacturing firm. And he might have done just that if it had not been for World War I. The Princeton graduate enlisted, and in 1917, as a first lieutenant in the aviation section of the U.S. Army Signal Corps, he was tasked with inspecting Hispano-Suiza engines built under license from France by the Wright-Martin Company in New Brunswick, New Jersey, and Long Island City, New York.

Young Rentschler found the work fascinating. These engines were not that different from those he was familiar with in automobiles: reciprocating pistons and cylinders arranged in rows, with liquid coolant circulating through the engine block and a radiator to dump excess heat. As the war wound down, Wright-Martin’s output tapered off, and Rentschler rejoined civilian life. For a time he ran Wright Aeronautical Corporation as president, until the board of directors, mostly bankers, decided not to reinvest profits for future engine development as he wished. In his mind, without investment in product development, the company was doomed. He resigned and spent months, including some time in a hospital due to illness, pondering the aircraft propulsion industry and how to jolt it from complacency.

Vought O2U-1s and Boeing F2B-1s—all Wasp-powered—aboard the USS Saratoga. (NASM (Si-95-2267a))
 The industry was at that time deeply invested in liquid-cooled engines, primarily large V-12s producing in excess of 400 horsepower. It was the conservative, low-risk solution for an aircraft engine, despite its well-known drawbacks: The required cooling system added weight and complexity, and radiators and coolant lines were vulnerable to battle damage, leakage, and subsequent engine failure.

Read more at http://www.airspacemag.com/flight-today/why-the-wasp-is-wonderful-180967115/#efYeFtu5fj6dueul.99

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What’s That Silver Plane in the Air? Air Canada’s Lockheed 10-A Electra Takes to the Skies to Mark the Airline’s 80th Anniversary

In honor of Air Canada’s 80th anniversary, Air Canada’s Lockheed 10A vintage aircraft are taking to the skies across Canada. After taking off this morning from Vancouver, BC, the L-10A will be making overnight stops as well as fuel stops at airports across Canada and will be on public display at the Royal Aviation Museum in Winnipeg on September 13 and 14. More information is at http://www.royalaviationmuseum.com.

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Hands on History With The R-1340 Powered Geico Skytypers

By Mark Kolanowski of NYCAviation.

The evening before media day at the Rhode Island Airshow was progressing like any other: Dinner was being cooked, camera batteries were charging, lenses were out awaiting cleaning and a blower was at the ready to clear pesky dust spots off sensors in anticipation for the photo opportunities in the morning. An unexpected phone call greatly raised the anticipation level for the show, as the public affairs representative for the Geico Skytypers asked if I would be interested in joining the team for a media/photo flight the following morning. An unexpected cancellation meant that the opportunity of a lifetime had just came up with my name on it, and provided I could watch a safety video that evening and promise to not wear high heels or flip flops, I’d be taking to the skies the following morning in a historic warbird.

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The History of the P&W R-1340 Powered T-6 Texan

The North American Aviation T-6 Texan two-place advanced trainer was the classroom for most of the Allied pilots who flew in World War II. Called the SNJ by the Navy and the Harvard by the British Royal Air Force, the advanced trainer AT-6 was designed as a transition trainer between basic trainers and first-line tactical aircraft. It was redesignated T-6 in 1948.

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Canadians set to rock “Thunder Over Louisville” with R-1340 North American Harvard Trainers

On April 18, the Canadian Harvard Aerobatic Team (CHAT) wrapped up several weeks of spring training and is heading south for the coming “Thunder Over Louisville” airshow.

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What is the Pratt & Whitney R-1340 Wasp & List of R-1340 Powered Aircraft

The Pratt & Whitney R-1340 Wasp was a 9 cylinder, single-row, air-cooled radial engine with horsepower ranging from 410 hp to 600 hp, depending on the model and configuration. It was used in a range of aircraft that included the North American AT-6, Boeing P-26, and Boeing 247. Jimmy Doolittle used the Wasp to set records in his Gee Bee Racer and Amelia Earhart made history using the Wasp in her Electra L-10.

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