Packard 1A-1551 Shenanadoah-Type Airship Engine

Packard 1A-1551 Shenanadoah-Type Airship Engine aircraft engine at the New England Air Museum


Type:   6-cylinder, inline, water-cooled, reciprocating piston
Displacement:   1,530 cu. in.
Weight:   1,138 lbs.
Power Output:   300 hp @ 1,400 rpm
Year:   1922
NEAM Id:   167
Location:   Civil Hangar

Courtesy of the Chicago Museum of Science & Industry

In 1922, The Packard Motor Company's Model 1A-1551 engine was selected to power the U.S. Navy's first rigid airship, the ZR-1 “Shenandoah.” The Packard design offered more rugged construction and better fuel and oil consumption than its rival, the Liberty 12-A.

For the Shenandoah, five engines were installed in 20' X 6' egg-shaped gondolas which were accessible in flight by way of open ladders connected to the airchip's hull. The original design had a sixth engine mounted behind the control car but was removed to make room for newer and larger radio equipment.

The engines could be configured as left-hand or right-hand so that the exhaust was ported away from the airship. They could be converted as needed by reversing cylinders and parts from one side to the other.

Packard built thirteen of these engines; four experimental gasoline-powered, low compression engines, and nine production units which ran on aviation gasoline gravity-feed from fuel tanks nmounted in the hull over the engine cars.

This engine, in left-hand configuration, is believed to be one of the original experimental units which was later upgraded to production specifications and retained as a spare.

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