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Wright Vertical 4, In-line 4 Engine


Display Status:

This object is on display in the Boeing Aviation Hangar room at Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, VA.

Wright Vertical 4, In-line 4 Engine

Collection Item Summary:

Because the Wright Brothers’ initial and primary objective was demonstration of heavier-than-air flight, their early engines, which they designed and manufactured themselves, were very similar and rudimentary. For example, they did not have carburetors. This Wright Vertical 4, the oldest existing U.S. Navy aircraft engine, powered the Navy's first Wright airplane, the B-1 hydro-aero plane. In 1912 the B-1 crashed in San Diego Bay during a training flight. Navy mechanics repaired the heavily damaged aircraft and its engine. However, attempts to solder and weld the aluminum fragments to the crankcase proved impossible, so an electrician fabricated a sheet metal patch and bolted it to the lower side of the crankcase.

This engine is the only known artifact to have survived from the Navy's first aviation training program, during which routine flights and accidents resulted in a cycle of repair and reconstruction of aircraft and overhaul of many engines.

Collection Item Long Description:

Data Source

National Air and Space Museum


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


Orville Wright

Credit Line

Transferred from the Department of the Navy, Bureau of Aeronautics.


Length 88.9 cm (35 in.), Height 63.5 cm (25 in.), Width 35.6 cm (14 in.)

Country of Origin

United States of America



Physical Description

  • Type: Reciprocating, in-line, 4 cylinders, liquid cooled
  • Power rating: Normal 22.4 kW (30 hp) at 1,200 rpm, Maximum 29.1 kW (39 hp) at 1,600 rpm
  • Displacement: 3.95 L (241 cu in)
  • Bore and Stroke: 111 mm (4.375 in.) x 102 mm (4.0 in.)
  • Weight: 81.7 kg (180 lb)


PROPULSION-Reciprocating & Rotary

Inventory Number