Pratt & Whitney J57 (JT3)

Pratt & Whitney J57 (JT3) aircraft engine at the New England Air Museum


Type:   Turbojet w/afterburner
Turbine:   Axial, single-stage
Compressor:   Two-spool 16-stage axial
Weight:   5,175 lbs.
Power Output:   10,000 lbf maximum thrust
Year:   1950
NEAM Id:   
Location:   Military Hangar

The J57 was a twin-spool, axial flow configuration, a substantial departure from earlier centrifugal-flow designs. It was an immediate success, and its performance was described in superlatives. Pratt & Whitney had leapfrogged the industry with its first turbojet design and in 1952, the J57 won the prestigious Collier Trophy for greatest achievement in American aviation.

The military turned to the J57 for its fighter squadrons. In May 1953, a J57-powered North American F-100 Super Sabre became the first production aircraft to exceed the speed of sound in level flight, a feat accomplished on its maiden flight. The popular Convair F-102 Delta Dart was the next J57-powered aircraft. The Navy's Chance Vought F8U-1 used its power to set the first official speed record in excess of 1,000 miles per hour. Other aircraft included Lockheed's U-2 reconnaissance plane, the prototype of Republic's F-105 Thunderchief fighter-bomber and Northrop's Snark intercontinental guided missile.

The engine was upgraded steadily to achieve higher thrust levels. Its most powerful model developed 19,600 pounds of thrust with afterburning.

In October 1958, the commercial version of the J57, the JT3, brought American passengers into the jet age of travel with the inaugural flight of a Pan American World Airways Boeing 707 from New York to Paris. Four engines, each rated at 13,000 pounds of thrust, reached a cruising speed of 575 miles per hour, 225 miles per hour faster than the newest propeller-driven airliner of that time.

The J57 and JT3 were so far ahead of the competition that virtually every aircraft manufacturer in the United States designed an airplane around them. A total of 21,186 of these turbojets were built for commercial and military applications before the last one was shipped in 1965.

The J57 powered the following aircraft:

  • North American F-100
  • McDonnell F-101
  • General Dynamics F-102
  • Boeing B-52
  • Martin B-57D
  • Lockheed U-2
  • Boeing C-135A
  • Boeing KC-135A
  • Ling-Temco-Vought F8
  • Douglas A3D
  • Douglas F4D, F5D
  • Boeing 707-120
  • Boeing 720
  • McDonnell Douglas DC-8-10
  • Northrop SM-62
  • Boeing C-137

Source: Pratt & Whitney

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