Fastest Propeller-Driven Plane


A previous question on official world speed records lists several piston- and jet-powered aircraft. One of these is the Tupolev Tu-114, holder of the official record for fastest turboprop plane since 1960. For those unfamiliar with the turboprop, it is a special class of jet engines in which a small jet is used to turn a large external propeller. It is this propeller that generates the majority of the thrust to propel the aircraft forward. The Kuznetsov NK-12 turboprop engines designed for the Tu-114, and its military cousin the Tu-95, are the most powerful turboprops ever built. These engines give the Tu-114 the official distinction of being the fastest propeller-driven plane in the world.

Tu-114
Tu-114

However, I have a feeling that you may be thinking of the more "traditional" class of propeller-driven aircraft, those being powered by piston engines that propelled nearly all aircraft from the Wright brothers up through World War II. Today, piston engines are used almost exclusively on light, general aviation aircraft. The record for the fastest single-engined piston plane is held by a modified Grumman F8F Bearcat. The official record for the fastest four-engined piston-powered plane, as measured by the FAI appears to be held by a B-29 Superfortress of the US Army Air Force. The FAI credited a B-29 with an official speed record of 369.69 mph (594.96 km/h) on 17 May 1946. Higher speed records may exist for other planes but are unofficial and not measured by FAI.
- answer by Doug Jackson, 26 January 2003

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