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Luscombe 8

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Luscombe 8
1946-built Luscombe 8E
Type civilian
Manufacturer Luscombe
Designed by Donald Luscombe
Maiden flight December 17, 1937
Produced 1937-194?

The Luscombe 8 is a series of high wing monoplanes designed in the late 1930s.

Contents

Background

The Luscombe Aircraft Corporation was re-formed as a New Jersey company in 1937, and a new design was begun. The Luscombe 50 (Model 8) was to become the company's most famous product. The Model 8 used the new horizontally-opposed small engines that had just been developed by the engine manufacturers. Just in case these engines didn't pan out, the aircraft was designed with a round firewall to minimize frontal area and simple construction. Although it was alleged this might allow the installation of a small radial engine if the flat four did not work, none of the original design engineers recall that being a design consideration.

The Model 8 followed in the Luscombe tradition of using no wood in the construction, and had a monocoque fuselage with fabric-covered metal wings. For a cheap, light aircraft, this was a revolutionary construction technique. Its competitors were built of fabric-covered steel tubing, with wooden spars and sometimes ribs in the fabric-covered wings. Luscombe's construction techniques allowed him to build his aircraft quickly and cheaply, without sacrificing strength. His aircraft were also more efficient than his competitors, cruising 10-20 mph faster on the same power.

The new Luscombe sold well, and soon the factory was making changes to the design. Continental had upgraded the A-50 engine to the A-65 engine of 65 horsepower (48 kW). Luscombe quickly certified this engine on the Model 8, and began producing it as the Model 8A. In 1938 and 1939, though, personality conflicts arose within the company, and Don Luscombe was forced out of the company in a proxy battle. Many Luscombe employees left at this time, also.

March of 1940 saw the introduction of another version of the Model 8, the 8B. This aircraft was powered by a Lycoming O-145-B3 engine of 65 horsepower (48 kW). A month later, the company developed the deluxe model 8C, powered by a Continental C-75-8J engine. The interior was finished off with maroon cloth and tan leather upholstery, with a shock-mounted section in the instrument panel. The deluxe model was named the Silvaire, (in a contest) and was sold with full-color advertising.

With war raging in Europe, stocks of aluminum began to be rationed. Since the Model 8 was widely used in the Civilian Pilot Training Program, Luscombe was able to maintain production and get a reasonable allotment of the lightweight metal. To ensure future allotments and increase its share of the CPTP market, Luscombe developed the model 8D. The instrument panel was changed so that it could be equipped with the necessary instruments for instrument flight and training, and so that radios could be installed easily. The 8D used the same 75 hp (56 kW) Continental engine as the 8C, but the 14 (US) gallon (53 L) fuselage tank was replaced by two 11.5 (US) gallon (44 L) wing tanks for greater range.

The man who had forced Don Luscombe out of the company was an Austrian named Leopold Klotz. The government considered him to be an enemy alien, which led to the company being taken over by the government during World War II, where its facilities produced military aircraft sub assemblies. Luscombe Aircraft spent the war years doing subcontract work for other manufacturers. In 1944, the Vested Claims Committee ruled that Klotz was a resident neutral rather than an enemy alien, and his Luscombe holdings were restored to him.

Dallas, Texas

During the war, Luscombe Aircraft moved from Trenton, New Jersey to Dallas, Texas. In anticipation of the postwar aircraft boom, and to satisfy military procurement contracts it had, Luscombe set up a large factory and re-tooled with new jigs capable of higher production volume than the pre-war factory had been capable of. Due to several factors, including a fire at one plant that destroyed most of their stock of cushions and upholstery, production in the latter part of 1945 was quite limited. The aircraft was also redesigned at this time to simplify construction of the fuselage into a modular construction.

Early in 1946, Luscombe decided to redesign the wing to an all-metal monocoque design, eliminating the fabric covering and simplifying the construction. The company also produced a prototype of a single-place low-wing design called the Model 10. This was never placed into production, since the market for single-seat aircraft was considered to be too small.

The Model 8 was upgraded once again in June, producing the 8E. This aircraft had an 85 horsepower (63 kW) engine, and the fuselage tank was replaced by two 12.5 (US?) gallon (47 L) wing tanks. This freed up space to install rear windows and a "hat throw" (shelf) in the space formerly occupied by the fuel tank. For a while, both all-metal and fabric-covered wing Luscombes were produced before the fabric-covered wing was phased out (use of old stock) in favor of the all-metal design.

Chandler, Arizona

After many years of being out of production, a group of investors purchased the type certificate with the intent of marketing the Luscombe aircraft as a kit plane. After one of the investors backed out with his financing, this left the others involved with a large debt to pay. A creative scheme was put into action; parts would be manufactured and sold to current Luscombe owners in order to finance the debt. This led to the creation of the Don Luscombe Aviation History Foundation. Throughout the years this foundation offered parts support and major restoration abilities.

Not only were the owners of Luscombe aircraft being supported, local aircraft mechanic students and others interested in learning the art of aircraft manufacturing and maintenance were taught the tools of a dying trade. Many young people passed through this "internship" and have gone on to continue in the field and some progressing on to other related fields such as aerospace engineering.

Unfortunately, as has been the case so many times with this historic aircraft, once again it brought financial ruin to many involved. A disputed agreement over the rights to produce the aircraft has turned many a friend to enemy. There continues to be disputes involved with this case, and has cost both sides greatly.

Future

The type certificate of the aircraft has changed hands, though there is still litigation making its way through the system. The current holder is believed to be Renaissance Aviation. This is the second attempt to market the aircraft. The first attempt did not yield any deliveries. Currently, a new version of the Luscombe 8 is being offered as a Light Sport Aircraft or LSA. It has roughly similar specifications and appearance to the original and is powered by a 100 horsepower Continental O-100 opposed engine. The Luscombe Silvaire LSA-8 is capable of speeds up to 120 MPH at sea level, has a climb rate of 900 FPM, a stall speed of only 44 MPH and a service ceiling of 17,000 feet. It sells for $90,000 and is notable for its all metal construction and polished aluminum finish. It is yet to be found out whether or not this aircraft will be certifiable under the light sport aircraft rules. This is due to the fact that the aircraft was never certified with the O-200 engine. The only installations occurred with a supplemental type certificate. The caveat was that this conversion also increased the gross weight of the aircraft to 1440lbs. This is over the current limit of the light sport aircraft certification. It remains to be seen if this hurdle can be overcome.

Famous Owners

James May of BBC's Top Gear recently wrote in Top Gear Magazine of his Luscombe 8A ownership experience. Read the column here.

Specifications: Model 8 (Luscombe 50)

General characteristics

  • Length: ()
  • Wingspan: ()
  • Height: ()
  • Powerplant: × , () each

Performance


  • Engine: 50 hp (37 kW) Continental
  • Length: 20 ft (6.1 m)
  • Height: 5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)
  • Wingspan: 35 ft (10.7 m)
  • Gross Weight: 1200 pounds (544 kg)
  • Useful Load: 535 pounds (243 kg)
  • Max Speed: 115 mph (185 km/h)
  • Cruise Speed: 98 mph (158 km/h)
  • Range: 370 miles (595 km)
File:Luscombe.8a.g-ccrk.arp.jpg
1946 Luscombe Silvaire 8A

Specifications: Model 8A (Silvaire)

  • Engine: 65 hp (48 kW) Continental
  • Length: 20 ft (6.1 m)
  • Height: 5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)
  • Wingspan: 35 feet
  • Gross Weight: 1200 pounds (1260 optional)
  • Useful Load: 535 pounds (595 optional)
  • Max Speed: 115 mph
  • Cruise Speed: 105 mph
  • Range: 370 miles

Specifications: Model 8B (Silvaire)

  • Engine: 65 hp (48 kW) Lycoming
  • Length: 20 feet
  • Height: 5 feet, 10 inches
  • Wingspan: 35 feet
  • Gross Weight: 1200 pounds
  • Useful Load: 535 pounds
  • Max Speed: 115 mph
  • Cruise Speed: 105 mph
  • Range: 370 miles

Specifications: Model 8C (Silvaire)

  • Engine: 75 hp (56 kW) Continental
  • Length: 20 feet
  • Height: 6 feet, 3 inches
  • Wingspan: 35 feet
  • Gross Weight: 1200 pounds
  • Useful Load: 535 pounds
  • Max Speed: 125 mph
  • Cruise Speed: 110 mph
  • Range: 370 miles

Specifications: Model 8D (Silvaire)

  • Engine: 75 hp (56 kW) Continental
  • Length: 20 feet
  • Height: 6 feet, 3 inches
  • Wingspan: 35 feet
  • Gross Weight: 1310 pounds
  • Useful Load: 630 pounds
  • Max Speed: 125 mph
  • Cruise Speed: 110 mph
  • Range: 500 miles
File:Luscombe.8e.g-lust.arp.jpg
1947 Luscombe Silvaire 8E

Specifications: Model 8E (Silvaire)

  • Engine: 85 hp (63 kW) Continental
  • Length: 20 feet
  • Height: 6 feet, 3 inches
  • Wingspan: 35 feet
  • Gross Weight: 1400 pounds
  • Useful Load: 630 pounds
  • Max Speed: 128 mph
  • Cruise Speed: 112 mph
  • Range: 500 miles
File:Luscombe.8f.g-bulo.arp.jpg
1946 Luscombe Silvaire 8F

Specifications: Model 8F (Silvaire)

  • Engine: 90 hp (69 kW) Continental
  • Length: 20 feet
  • Height: 6 feet, 3 inches
  • Wingspan: 35 feet
  • Gross Weight: 1400 pounds
  • Useful Load: 630 pounds
  • Max Speed: 140 mph
  • Cruise Speed: 115 mph
  • Range: 499 miles

Sub-Model T8F has tandem seating but is generally similar in dimension, Sprayer version approved for Restricted category operations can have higher Gross Weight with operational limits.

References

External links

See also

Comparable aircraft

Template:USAF transports


This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.
It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Luscombe 8".
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