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TINKER HISTORY: J35 Allison turbojet engine

Republic P-84 Thunderjet aircraft in flight. (Courtesy photo)

Republic P-84 Thunderjet aircraft in flight. (Courtesy photo)

The J35 turbojet is an outgrowth from the earliest mass-produced turbojet engine, the J33. The J35s initial refinements increased thrust, but it wasn’t until project management was placed in the hands of General Motor’s Allison Division that a radical redesign and development of afterburner created exponential increases in thrust.   

The Oklahoma City Air Materiel Area/Tinker Air Force Base performed maintenance, repair and overhaul of 12,026 engines between May 1947 and June 1974. This almost 30-year span provided Tinker’s skilled workforce with substantial work and is one of the longest engine maintenance programs in Tinker’s history.

The J35 was the first Allison/GE turbojet engine to incorporate an axial-flow compressor — the type of compressor used in all GE engines since.

A number of cutting-edge designs were powered by the J35 as the U.S. rapidly expanded the boundaries of flight during the late 1940s and early 1950s. In fact, the J35 pushed a Douglas D-558-1 “Skystreak” to a record-breaking 650 mph in 1947. The engine was also used in the Republic YF-84, Douglas XB-43, North American XB-45, Consolidated XB-46, Boeing XB-47, Martin XB-48, Northrop RB-35B and YB-49, North American XF-86, and Northrop XF-89.

Aircraft designs which eventually went in to large-scale production used the J35 to power multiple versions of Republic’s straight-wing F-84 “Thunderjet,” swept-wing F-84 “Thunderstreak,” and reconnaissance configured “Thunderflash.” Boeing’s B-47 “Stratojet” and Northrop’s F-89 “Scorpion” jets were also powered by the J35 engine.

The F-84 served with allied nations for three years after being fully retired from the U.S. inventory by the Air National Guard in 1971. This continued service and maintenance through foreign military sales programs most likely contributed to the extended length of time the engine was maintained by the U.S. Air Force.

Manufacturer: Allison/General Electric

Engine type: J35

Characteristics: Axial flow afterburning turbojet with maximum thrust of 8,000 lbs.

In-service dates: 1947-1974

Number produced: 14,169

Tinker connection: Maintenance, repair and overhaul