Begun in 1925 by former Wright Aeronautical employees as a spinoff from a machine tool company, Pratt & Whitney became one of the world’s largest manufacturers of aircraft engines, and the Wasp Jr. is one of the most successful reciprocating engines ever built. Pratt & Whitney introduced it as a complement to the highly successful Wasp and Hornet families of engines in 1930. The Wasp Jr. was essentially a Wasp of reduced dimensions. Pratt & Whitney and its licensees manufactured over 39,000 versions of the R-985 until 1953 for a wide variety of military and commercial aircraft, including light transports, trainers, sport aircraft, and helicopters.
The R-985-AN-14B powered the McDonnell XHJH-1 and XHJD-1 Whirlaway helicopters and the Avro Anson V trainer. This Wasp Jr.-aptly nicknamed "The Dancing Engine"- has been sectionalized and motorized to demonstrate the movements of its internal components.