Curtiss Modified Model L, V-8 Engine


Display Status:

This object is not on display at the National Air and Space Museum. It is either on loan or in storage.

Collection Item Summary:

Curtiss was one of the most successful early American aircraft engine manufacturers. The first Curtiss engines were air cooled but, to achieve higher power, Curtiss began to develop liquid-cooled engines. Historical evidence suggests that this Model L artifact was one of two higher-performance engines built by Curtiss for his experimental monoplane that was shown, but not flown, at the 1910 Gordon Bennett Race held at Belmont Park, N.Y. Both engines were later assigned to Eugene Ely, a pilot for Curtiss, who used them in exhibition and demonstration flights. It is likely that one of those engines powered the aircraft which crashed in 1912 at Macon, Georgia, killing Ely.

Continued evolution of the Curtiss V-8 engine led to the OX-5, of which more than 10,000 were produced by the end of World War I in 1918. The U.S. government sold thousands of these to the public as surplus at a fraction of their original cost.

Collection Item Long Description:


Circa 1910

Inventory Number


Physical Description

  • Type: Reciprocating, V-type, 8 cylinders, water-cooled
  • Power rating: 48.5 kW (65 hp) at 1,150 rpm
  • Displacement: 8.2 L (502.64 cu in)
  • Bore and Stroke: 102 mm (4 in.) x 127 mm (5 in.)
  • Weight: 129 kg (285 lb)

Credit Line

Transferred from the Department of the Navy, Bureau of Aeronautics

Country of Origin

United States of America


Steel, Preservative coating, Paint, Aluminum, Brass


Depth 90.2 cm (35.5 in.), Length 109.2 cm (43 in.), Width 80.6 cm (31.75 in.)

Data Source

National Air and Space Museum

Restrictions & Rights

Do not reproduce without permission from the Smithsonian Institution, National Air and Space Museum


PROPULSION-Reciprocating & Rotary