Wright J-5 “Whirlwind”

Display Status: On display
Type: 9-cylinder naturally aspirated air-cooled radial piston engine


The J-5 is an advancement of the WWI Liberty Engine motivated by the US Navy’s requirement for a light weight engine for its fleet aircraft. Charles L. Lawrence, racing engine designer/builder, was developing air cooled engines, when he, Glenn Curtiss and Wright Aeronautical were invited by the US Navy to competitively develop a lighter engine for its new class of aircraft. Upon Lawrence’s appointment as president of Wright Aeronautical the Wright J-5 was developed. The J-5, later designated R-790, is everything an air cooled engine can be – powerful, light weight and very easy to maintain. A modified version was manufactured for the specially built Ryan aircraft flown to France by Charles A. Lindberg, a nonstop flight of 33 hours. It is the forerunner of all Wright air cooled engines.