Wright Whirlwind J-4B, Byrd North Pole Flight, Radial 9 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:

Charles Lawrance started his designs for an air-cooled engine in 1915. In 1921, Lawrance designed his first engine for a U.S. Navy contract, which wanted a compact lightweight engine not plagued with water leakage problems. Following a Navy encouraged merger with Wright, the Lawrance engine progressed through design stages, as the Wright Whirlwind J-3, J-4, J-5, and J-6 series. The most famous of these was the J-5, used by Lindbergh.

J-4 engines powered such aircraft as the Fairchild FC-1 and FC-2, Fokker Universal, Laird Commercial LC-B200, Stearman C2B and C3B, and Stinson Detroiter SB-1. When introduced in 1925, the J-4 was adopted by the Navy as a stock power plant. A total of 190 J-4 engines were built.

In 1926, Admiral Richard Byrd and Floyd Bennett made a flight from Spitzbergen, Norway over the North Pole and back. This was the first airplane flight over the Pole, and used the J-4B engine in a Fokker F-VII Tri-motor.