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Artifact Friday: The O-805-2 Engine

Well, here’s to another rabbit trail!

Happy Artifact Friday everyone.

This week, we are covering the Franklin O-805-2.

This is one of the engines we have in our collection which has a very fascinating history.

H.H. Franklin Company began in New York to produce air-cooled automobiles.

These automobiles were considered more luxurious, easier to handle, and more reliable than the water-cooled automobiles of the time.

Sadly, the company went bankrupt during the Great Depression, and it was bought in 1937 by a group of former employees, becoming Air-Cooled Motors.  

This company then began producing automobile and airplane engines; however, they still used

the Franklin name brand.

During the war years, this company was extremely successful in producing engines for helicopters and airplanes. The Bell 47, Piper J-3F Cub, and the Sikorsky S-52 just to name a few.

It was during this time that they began designing our engine the O-805-2.  During World War Two, the U.S. military (more specifically the Army Air Corps and the Navy) began experimenting with the possibility of drone warfare.  

They commissioned the Interstate Aircraft and Engineering group to develop drone prototypes aircraft capable of carrying up to 2,000 pounds of bombs.

Franklin or Air-Cooled Motors came up with the O-805-2. A horizontal, 12-cylinder, air-cooled engine that is capable of 450 horsepower.

The engine was easy to work on with superb material, but it could not manage the weight of the prototype aircraft.

Thus, the Army Air Corps scrapped their program and the U.S. Navy used radial engines instead of the horizontal Franklin engine.

Thus, the engine was not used extensively except as a museum piece and a reminder of the early days of military drone tests.

Our O-805-2 is in our Leonard McCandless Memorial Hangar with many other engines of this same era.

We hope you take the time to stop by and see it!


Also, as a side note, in case you are wondering where Air Cooled Motors is now and if they kept producing engines. They were bought out in 1945 by Republic Aviation Company to produce the Republic Seabee. Later, it was again bought out by Tucker Car Corporation, and in 1961 it changed hands again this time to Aero Industries which restored the namesake Franklin Engine Company.

Lastly, the company was once again bought in 1975 by the Polish government. To this day it is called Franklin Aircraft Engines which produces engines for the Polish aviation industry.




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