There are certain machines that, while not perfect, are perfect for the role they were designed to fill. The Model T, the small block Chevy, and in the world of aviation, the R-1830 engine. We were on eBay recently and found listing for a pair of Pratt and Whitney R-1830 Twin Wasp radial engines. The R-1830 in all of its machinations is the most produced piston aircraft engine ever. More than 173,000 of them were produced over the time that they were coming off the assembly line and it served dutifully in both war and peace powering everything form the mighty B-24 to the groundbreaking DC-3. Making between 800 and 1,200hp depending on how it as being boosted, these 14-cylinder (two rows of 7 cylinders) engines were the definition of an awesome workhorse. Reliable and strong, they helped carry the allies to victory and then mail, people, and everything else around the country.
Specs? The engines are about 4-feet in diameter, they weigh 1,200lbs, and they displace 1,823ci. As mentioned, they can be spec’d to produce anywhere from 800-1,200hp. The hot rod 1,200hp engines had GE turbochargers on them during the war. The engines are “square” with a 5.5″ bore and a 5.5″ stroke. Using a 6.7:1 compression ratio, a massive two barrel carb, and two valves per cylinder, they are donkey tough.
This ad is for two of the engines and they come as a package deal and for the asking price of $500,000. If someone happened to be restoring a B-24 or an old DC-3 and were short a pair of noise makers, this would be smart money. The insanity of restoring a vintage airplane is basically reserved for only the ultra-wealthy and those guys would likely shrug and tell their buying agent to snatch these suckers up as quickly as possible.
How did 173,000 of something get built and so few have survived (comparatively speaking). Think of the thousands that were blown up, shot down, or otherwise mangled in the war and then think about what happens to old airplanes. They are like old race cars, serving little use. Once they are handed down a couple of times, they are broken up, scrapped, and forgotten. Hopefully these engines get to live a fun second life when a rich guy or girl snatches them up.
I would love to have one of these .Just to start up and let it cackle once and a while.great engines.