In late 1953, General Electric began a design study of a high thrust-to-weight ratio turbojet engine. The prototype J85 engine ran in January 1956, the first flight was in August 1958 as the power plant of the McDonnell GAM-72 missile, and in September 1958 the prototype North American T-39 Sabreliner flew for the first time powered by the first man-rated J85 engines.
The J85 was the first U.S. small turbine engine to go into production with an afterburner. The most important applications were the Northrop T-38 Talon, the first supersonic trainer, and Northrop F-5 Freedom Fighter, a low-cost fighter used by many nations from the 1960s through the 1980s. The non-afterburning J85-GE-17A was used on the Cessna A-37A/B attack aircraft. The J85 had the highest thrust-to-weight ratio of production engines built for its time (up to 7.3:1 on the J85-GE-21). More than 12,000 J85 engines were built by the time production ended in 1988.
Transferred from the Maryland Air National Guard, Baltimore, Maryland
Country of Origin: United States of America
Diameter: 45 cm (17.688 in.), Length: 102.9 cm (40.5 in.)
Type: Turbojet, single-shaft
Thrust: 12,680 N (2,850lb) at 16,500 rpm
Compressor: 8-stage axial
Turbine: 2-stage axial
Weight: 181 kg (398 lb)