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Curtis P-40 Engine Preservation

April 27, 2010

Last week, our curatorial staff removed the cowling of our flyable P-40E Warhawk which covered the massive Allison 1710 V-12 engine within. This monster-of-an-engine produced over 1000 horsepower at a time when that was kind of a big deal. Though it was outperformed by later engines during WWII, it stayed in production in various aircraft (including turbo-supercharged versions in the famous P-38 Lightning) for the rest of the war.

Allison 1710 V-12 Engine inside of the Curtis P-40

The best thing about the engine and the P-40 itself, is that they both flew during World War II (at this time I cannot tell you if it saw combat, but it did fly) making it an artifact definitely worth preserving. So every few years, the curators change the preservative oil in the engine.

The whole process involves removing the cowlings and the valve covers and then connecting a pump to the oil pan to remove the old. Once the all old oil is drained, the new preservation oil is pumped in by turning the engine. You can see the turning of the engine below.

They then spray the valve train and rockers with oil and put it all back together. Most visitors never get to see the inside of the P-40, so I have posted some pictures of the process on our Flickr photostream. You can see those images by clicking here.

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