Pratt and Whitney's Wasp Engine Honored as Landmark

May 9, 2016

Fred Rentschler, second from left, with the 1,000th Wasp produced
Credit Pratt & Whitney

Pratt and Whitney’s original engine has been designated as a national engineering landmark. The honor for the Wasp comes around the 90th anniversary of its first flight. 

The invention of Pratt and Whitney aviation pioneer, Fred Rentschler, The Wasp first took to the air on May 5 in 1926. The company and its partners went on to make and deliver more than 360,000 of the engines as the Wasp powered nearly 100 different types of planes through World War II and into subsequent decades.

Pratt and Whitney’s present-day Director of Advanced Programs and Technology Jimmy Kenyon said the engine was the first to take advantage of air cooling, making it lighter and faster.

"What that in essence did, is create a superior engine, that revolutionized aviation and really built up Connecticut as an aviation powerhouse," he told WNPR.

The company’s achievement in creating the Wasp was recognized recently by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, as it designated the engine a national landmark - one of about 260 around the nation.

The society describes the Wasp as "a major milestone in a stream of progress that has taken us from the Wright Brothers 28-horsepower engine to the turbofan engines of today."

"They are monuments to engineering achievement that celebrate the impact that engineering has had on society," said Jimmy Kenyon.

ASME President Dr. Julio Guerrero, P&W retiree Bud Lewis, and P&W President Bob Leduc. Lewis worked on the engine in the 1940s.
Credit Pratt & Whitney

And Kenyon believes Pratt and Whitney continues to honor Rentschler’s achievement in the 21st century. "Now we're putting into service the next generation Pure Power geared turbofan which is once again revolutionizing aviation," he said.

Production of the Wasp ended in 1960, but there are still many flying today, in the hands of collectors.