Collection Item Summary:
It is believed this artifact is a 37 kW (50 hp) Curtiss E-4, operated at a lower than normal rotational speed. It was the first of Curtiss water-cooled engines, and the first of two engines to power the U.S. Army Signal Corps Dirigible No. 1, the first U.S. military airship. The engine drove a tubular steel shaft about 6.7 m (22 ft) long on which was mounted a wooden propeller designed by Lt. Thomas E. Selfridge.
In 1908, the Signal Corps awarded Thomas Baldwin a contract for the construction of an airship not to exceed 36.6 m (120 ft), to be completely maneuverable, and to obtain a speed of 32 km/hr (20 mph). Baldwin piloted the airship, and Glenn Curtiss was the engineer. In the official speed run, the Baldwin airship reached 31.38 km/hr (19.61 mph).
After service at Fort Meyer and Omaha, this engine was replaced by another Curtiss Model E-4 engine, also in the museum’s collection.
Collection Item Long Description:
National Air and Space Museum
Do not reproduce without permission from the Smithsonian Institution, National Air and Space Museum
Glenn H. Curtiss
Gift of Charles R. Witteman.
- Approximate: 91.4 × 61 × 91.4cm (36 × 24 × 36 in.)
- Support: 171.5 × 106.7 × 82.6cm (67 1/2 in. × 42 in. × 32 1/2 in.)
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Country of Origin
United States of America
- Type: Reciprocating, in-line, 4 cylinders, water-cooled
- Power rating: 14.9 KW (20 hp) at 450 rpm
- Displacement: 6.4 L ( 393 cu in.)
- Bore and Stroke: 127 mm (5 in.) x 127 mm (5 in.)
- Weight: 114 kg (250 lb)
PROPULSION-Reciprocating & Rotary