Pratt & Whitney's first engine was called the Wasp.
Completed on Christmas Eve of 1925, the Wasp was an air-cooled, radial piston engine with 1,340 cubic inches of displacement. It also featured a revolutionary design for the crankshaft and master rod, which eliminated what had proved to be a weak area in other engines. The new Wasp weighed less than 650 pounds.
The Wasp developed 425 horsepower on its third test run. It easily passed Navy qualification testing in March 1926, and by October of the same year, the Navy had ordered 200 engines. The Wasp demonstrated exceptional capabilities. It exhibited speed, rate of climb, performance at altitude and reliability that revolutionized American aviation, shattering one record after another. Soon it dominated Navy and Army Air Force fighter planes.
The Wasp also made its mark on early commercial aviation during the 1930s. Charles Lindbergh shattered the transcontinental speed record in 1930 with his Wasp-powered Lockheed Sirius. Jimmy Doolittle relied on his Wasp to take his Gee Bee aircraft to new speeds. And, Amelia Earhart made history with her Wasp-powered Lockheed Electra 10E.
Airplane designers, targeting the expanding market for future commercial transports, shaped their designs around the Wasp. One plane to switch from liquid- to air-cooled propulsion was the Ford Tri-motor, known as the "Tin Goose" Wasp engines powered approximately 100 different experimental airplanes. It remained in production until 1960, with later models producing up to 600 horsepower. Almost 35,000 engines were manufactured.