One More Thing

Air & Space Smithsonian - - Front Page -

Not just any nine-cylin­der ra­dial

The R-985 was one of the most suc­cess­ful pis­ton en­gines ever built; about 39,000 were man­u­fac­tured be­tween 1930 and 1953 to power light air­craft. This vari­ant, a 1942 R-985-AN14B, drove the Avro An­son V trainer and Mcdon­nell’s lone Whirl­away he­li­copter; ear­lier ver­sions pow­ered icons like the Lock­heed Elec­tra and Beech Stag­ger­wing.

Cool­ing fins (1) around each cylin­der in­crease its sur­face area, help­ing to dis­perse heat. The in­take (blue) and ex­haust (or­ange) ports have valves that open and close on top of the cylin­der.

The tri­an­gu­lar crank bal­ance (2) in the en­gine’s cen­ter ro­tates like a gy­ro­scope, dis­tribut­ing the en­gine’s weight evenly dur­ing in­flight ma­neu­vers.

This dis­play at the Steven F. Ud­varHazy Cen­ter, nick­named “the danc­ing en­gine,” is rigged with LEDS to il­lu­mi­nate its op­er­a­tion. If you’re lucky, you may see it run.

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