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The company manufactured machine tools, tools for the makers of sewing machines, and gun-making machinery for use by the Union Army during the American Civil War.
That company is now known as Pratt and Whitney Measurement Systems. The companies are not connected with Pratt and Whitney.
In 1925, Frederick Brant Rentschler approached Pratt and Whitney looking for funds and a location to build his new aircraft engine. Pratt & Whitney loaned him $250,000, the use of the Pratt & Whitney name, and space in their building. This was the beginning of the Pratt & Whitney Aircraft Company.
Pratt & Whitney's first engine, the Wasp, was completed on Christmas Eve 1925. The Wasp developed 425 horsepower (317 kW) on its third test run. It easily passed the Navy qualification test in March 1926, and by October the Navy had ordered 200 engines. The Wasp exhibited speed, climb, performance and reliability that revolutionised American aviation.