Tag Archives: R-985 and R-1340 radial engines

The R-1340: The Pratt & Whitney Radial Engine that started it all

Covington Aircraft firmly believes in the history of aviation (you can’t get to where your going without knowing where you have been).  So, this week, we talk about the modern marvel that is 100 years old, R-1340 Engine, Pratt & Whitney’s first engine.

Mr. Willgoos and Mr. Mead innovate a Modern Marvel


In 1925, President Calvin Coolidge had his inaugural address broadcast over the radio, a first in the United States.  Richard Drew invented scotch tape, making it easier for the world to wrap Christmas presents, in 1925 as well.  However, one of the most important firsts to happen in 1925 was the conception and development of the R-1340 engine, a single-row, nine-cylinder air-cooled radial design.  Brought to life by Andy Willgoos and George J. Mead, the R-1340, which became the cornerstone of Pratt & Whitney Aircraft, was discovered in the small backyard garage owned by Mr. Willgoos.

Innovative Design

The difference in the R-1340 engine from other engines was the supercharger or blower section which has remained unchanged since its humble beginnings in 1925.  The blower section is attached to the rear power case and receives the fuel/air mixture from the impeller assembly.  This mixture is delivered to the cylinders via the intake pipes and and then to the crankshaft using a spring loaded gear.  This protects the blower gearing from sudden acceleration or deceleration.

Introduction of Different Blower


The original blower developed by Willgoos and Mead came to be known as a ball bearing blower as it was supported by three ball bearings.  Pratt & Whitney later introduced a plain type blower which does not use ball bearings.  Many believe that the reason for the development of the plain type blower was due to weakness of the ball bearing blowers, but this is not the case, as both types of blowers have good and bad qualities.

Classified as a top-secret design when it was developed in the 1920’s, the R-1340 engine is still as much of a modern marvel today as it was almost 100 years ago, making it one of the aviation industry’s modern marvels.
Covington Aircraft has been overhauling, selling, and maintaining radial engines and turbine engines since 1979. If you need a radial engine part, perhaps for your R-1340, make sure you visit our website and give us a call! Happy Flying!

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