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Pratt & Whitney R-2800 Powered Sea Fury Conversion

The original Hawker Sea Fury was powered by a Bristol Centaurus Mk. 18 engine driving a Rotol five-bladed constant-speed propeller. The 18-cylinder, two-row, air-cooled radial engine is rated at 2,480 horsepower. With the introduction of the Jet Age, production of this engine was limited and in time the engine supply became limited in numbers and the installation of an alternate engine was required to prolong the life of the powerful Sea Fury.

Larry Burton first installed the Wright R-3350-26WD on the air racer “Blind Man’s Bluff” in 1988. Nelson Ezell of Breckenridge, Texas developed an installation kit to install the Wright Cyclone R-3350-26WD for the Sea Fury. This 18-cylinder, two-row, air-cooled radial engine is normally rated at 2,300 horsepower on 100 octane fuel, a very close match to the Centaurus. Sea Fury owners worldwide started converting their Sea Furies as the supply of Centaurus engines depleted.

In 1994 Sanders Aircraft installed the R3350-26WD in “Argonaut”. We did this because we had two R-3350’s in stock and a conversion kit was available from Nelson Ezell. Some operators have had good luck with the R-3350…we are not one of them.

In the past, numerous people have asked about the possibility of installing the Pratt & Whitney R-2800, well known for its outstanding record of dependability. After doing a comparison between the two engines (see below), we decided to convert “Argonaut” to an R-2800 CB16/CB3.

Conversion was scheduled to start after Reno, but after the word got out, the interest was to the point that we started sooner. When comparing the two engines, it can be seen that the numbers are fairly close and the dependability becomes the overriding factor in converting to the R-2800.


R-2800 CB16/CB3


Weight (pounds)



Horse Power (dry)



Horse Power (wet)



Weight/HP Ratio (dry)



Weight/HP Ratio (wet)



Nose Case Ratio



Sanders Aeronautics is planning to be in a position to offer conversion kits or in house conversions of the Sea Fury to Pratt & Whitney R-2800 power in the New Year. Please feel free to contact us if you are interested in a conversion or restored R-2800 powered Sea Fury.

On April 19, 2011 Dennis Sanders took Argonaut on a successful 20 minute first flight with the new Pratt & Whitney R-2800 CB3. Argonaut was inspected after the flight and Brian Sanders then flew Argonaut on it's second flight later that afternoon. Both reported that the R-2800 CB3 engine pulled as hard as the old R-3350 and the aircraft handled very well.

A 10 hour test flight schedule started on May 21, 2011. Prior to the days first flight, three separate power runs were made, with the last being a full power check. The oil screens were checked and everything was good for the test flights to begin. Brian Sanders flew the first flight with Dennis in the SX 300 chase plane. The engine and airplane performed perfectly. All engine parameters were reported in the green and Brian said that the engine was running very smooth and strong at all power settings. The oil screens were then checked and Dennis Sanders took Argonaut up for the second test flight that day.

Argonaut R-2800 CB3 First Flight

Argonaut R-2800 CB3 First Engine Run

Argonaut R-2800 CB3 Second Engine Run

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