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AeroCraftsman Caudron C.460
This Caudron C.460 replica was constructed by the crew of AeroCraftsman, for Tom Wathen who also has flying replicas of several other golden age racers.
The airplane measures 23 feet from spinner to tail. Wing span is about 22 feet.
Mark Lightsey, who piloted the Caudron from California to Wisconsin and led its construction at AeroCraftsman, Inc., a restoration and replica construction shop at Flabob Airport.
The challenge began with creating plans for the airplane because it was essentially a one-off, and no plans existed for it. They were able to construct this one from some drawings found in the aviation museum in Lebouget, France.
The airplane is entirely made of wood except for the landing gear. The landing gear is retractable and hydraulically actuated. The wheel pants have a sort of lip on them, so it doesn’t look like they could fit into the wheel wells.
The landing gear not only folds up into the belly, it twists to do so.
The silver patch on the left side of the nose is a skin-type of oil cooler. Because it was flush in the skin, there is no drag from the oil cooler.
The original airplane sported a 370-hp Renault engine that was capable of reaching speeds up to 272 mph. The original airplane sported a 370-hp Renault engine that was capable of reaching speeds up to 272 mph. The biggest engine that was available was a Czech 260-hp LOM.
The cockpit is tiny — it’s too narrow to even wear a headset. It was designed strictly for racing. The door opens and the canopy slides forward so there is room to get in, but when you close everything in it is claustrophobic.
The Caudron was sucessfully test flown for the first time on January 28, 2009. After a brief but sucessful test program, the airplane was disassembled and shipped to France. Upon arrival it was reassembled with some reinforcing modifications recommended by the French DGAC. After receiving the permit to fly, it was test flown several times before making it's public debut at the 100th anniversary of the Paris Airshow at Le Bourget.
Typical cruising speeds are about 205-210 mph at 25 inches of manifold pressure and 2,300 rpm. The fastest it’s been flown was 280 mph indicated at 6,000 feet MSL.
Tom Wathen’s full-scale replica Avions Caudron C.460 on display in front of Vintage Aircraft headquarters at the 2010 AirVenture. It had flown all the way from the West Coast to Oshkosh.
Pilot Mark Lightsey and owner Tom Wathen at 2010 Oshkosh.
The trip from California to Oshkosh took about three days, 11 hours of flying, nine fuel stops, lots of weather, lots of wind, a broken exhaust stack, but no major trouble. “It burns 100LL, about 10 gallons an hour in cruise. It carries a total of 43 gallons, of which 40 is usable.
The longest leg of the flight was two hours and 40 minutes, because the airplane is so fatiguing to fly. It flies very unstable, very sensitive and light on the controls. It’s also very blind and has a high approach to landing speed.

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