Curtiss Ricardo R-6, In-line 6 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:

Among the most successful early engines marketed in the United States were those designed and built by aviation pioneer and inventor Glenn Curtiss in his factory at Hammondsport, New York. Early Curtiss engines powered motorcycles, and were air cooled. Later, to achieve higher power, Curtiss began to develop liquid-cooled engines. Curtiss built this engine for the U.S. Navy in 1921 for experimental purposes. It incorporated the Ricardo supercharging system, designed to increase engine power at high altitude and decrease fuel consumption.

The piston and cylinder assembly were designed so the underside of the piston compressed air on the intake stroke of the piston. The compressed air then passed through an intercooler back into the cylinder above the piston during the compression stroke. The Navy did not consider the experiment successful, as the improvements that resulted did not offset the increased weight and mechanical complexity.

Collection Item Long Description:


Circa 1921

Inventory Number


Physical Description

  • Type: Reciprocating, 6 cylinders, In-line, Liquid-cooled
  • Power rating: 298 kW (400 hp) at 1,450 rpm
  • Displacement: 30.2 L (1,847.26 cu. in.)
  • Bore and Stroke: 178 mm (7 in.) x 203 mm (8 in.)
  • Weight: 544 kg (1,200 lb)

Credit Line

Transferred from the U.S. Navy

Country of Origin

United States of America


Steel, Preservative coating, Wood, Rubber, Textile, Aluminum, Paint, Phonolic, Copper


Height 119.4 cm (47 in.), Width 55.9 cm (22 in.), Depth 233.7 cm (92 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