Heath-Henderson B-4

The Heath-Henderson B-4 engine was a motorcycle piston engine modified for use in aircraft.

Heath-Henderson B-4
Heath-Henderson B-4 aircraft engine on display at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center
Type Piston aero engine
National origin United States
Manufacturer Heath-Henderson
First run 1930?
Major applications Heath V Parasol
Unit cost $300 in 1932 [1]

"The Heath Airplane Company's Model B-4 was an in-line, four-cylinder, air-cooled Henderson motorcycle engine converted for use in aircraft by modifying the lubrication system and the valves. The B-4 mainly powered the small and economical Heath Parasol monoplane, which Heath sold in kit form for homebuilders in the 1920s and '30s."

"The low-cost, reliable Henderson motorcycle engine was well-suited for the Heath airplane design because it helped make sport flying affordable for many people. Service was simple and economical because parts were cheap and easy to obtain throughout the country."

  • A Heath-Henderson engine was featured on an episode of the television show American Pickers, first airing on December 12, 2011 in the U.S. A brief history of both the Henderson motocycle company and use of the engine in Heath aircraft was discussed.


  • Church Marathon J-3
The Marathon J-3 was a modification of the Heath-Henderson B-4 engine, used for light aircraft in the 1930s, by the Church Airplane and Mfg. Co, primarily for the Church Midwing JC-1.[2] The Marathon J-3 cost $350 in 1932.


Engines on display


Data from Jane's all the World's Aircraft 1938[4]

General characteristics

  • Type: 4-cylinder, air-cooled inline piston aircraft engine
  • Bore: 2.75 in (70 mm)
(Marathon J-3 - 2.806 in (71 mm))
(Marathon J-3 - 108 cu in (1.77 l))
  • Length: 25.25 in (641 mm)
  • Width: 14 in (356 mm)
  • Height: 25 in (640 mm)
  • Dry weight: 109 lb (49.4 kg)


  • Valvetrain: side valves worked by camshaft
  • Cooling system: air-cooled


  • Power output: 30 hp (22 kW) at 3000 rpm
(Marathon J-3 - 46.5 hp (34.7 kW))


  1. Popular Aviation: 136. August 1932. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  2. Popular Aviation: 133. August 1932. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  3. http://neam.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&layout=edit&id=1127 "Heath-Henderson B-4"
  4. Grey, C.G.; Bridgman, Leonard, eds. (1938). Jane's all the World's Aircraft 1938. London: Sampson Low, Marston & company, ltd. p. 86d.


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