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Piper PA-18 Super Cub / L-18 / L-21 / U-7 / YL-21

piper-pa18


Early in 1948, Piper assigned the model designation PA-18 to an improved version of the PA-17 Vagabond, which was to be introduced to the marketplace in 1949. A sporty 90hp Continental-powered version of the Vagabond with Clipper wings, which was to be a mate with the 90hp PA-11 for the 1949 model year.
A prototype was built and tested, but Piper decided to cancel the program early in 1949.

In October 1948, the Army approached Piper with a request for a new model: a light aircraft to be used for utility, training and patrol, similar to the previously built L-4. But it needed to be different in some ways to allow an opening for the L-18 light observation and utility aircraft contract.

Piper was just starting to get back on its feet from the aviation business crash of March 1947 and was very willing and able to devote attention to this request. So in January 1949 Piper responded with a proposal of a model known as the PA-19. At that time the PA-18 model number had been assigned to the 90hp Continental-powered version of the Vagabond with Clipper wings.

The PA-18 Vagabond programme was cancelled, leaving the number 18 open. As the development of the PA19 continued (the Army was very interested in the first one, having both the Continental 90hp and then a Lycoming 108hp engine installed), Piper looked at the possibility of making a civilian version of this aeroplane during the latter half of the 1949 model year, deleting some of the items the military had requested.

This would then be called the PA-18, and the Type Certificate 1A2 already assigned to the PA-19 would be updated to include the PA-18 as well. Hence the first PA-18 was born gaining type certification on 23 November 1949, patterned after the first PA-19 built in January that year. Both were powered with the Continental C90-8 engine.

The new civilian aircraft was the PA-18-90 Super Cub, very much like the 90hp PA-11 but better. Only three PA-19s were built: the first became the test bed for the PA-18-90 and -105 models; the second example became the test bed for the PA-18-125 and -135; and the third was built and sold to the Department of the Interior and used by the Fish and Game Commission. 

 

PA-18-floats


The PA-18-105 was powered with a Lycoming 0-235-C1. It had a larger horizontal tail, with balanced elevators and flaps (from the PA-20 parts bin). The PA-18-105s were only built from January to October of 1950 when that model was replaced by the PA18-125.

 

Piper-PA18-105
Piper PA-18-105 Super Cub

 

So the first full year of production was the 1950 model year and these two models were on the market. For 1951 the 90hp / 67kW version continued with the C90-12 engine and the PA-18-105 was replaced by the O-290-D Lycoming powered PA-18-125, which had wing flaps and the big tail, and oil cooler scoop on top of the cowling.

The very first Super Cub was N5410H, Ser. No. 18-1. It is still on the FAA'S books (2006) - registered to Eugene Frank of Caldwell, ID, who has been deceased for a number of years.

 

Piper-PA18-SupCub

 

In 1952 the 125hp models gave way to the PA-18-135 with a Lycoming O-290-D2, production beginning in May of 1952. Two wing tanks standard with this model, with a right wing tank changed from optional to standard. The oil cooler scoop was moved to the bottom of the cowling. The PA-18-90 production continued and actually lasted until 1961, when a Piper employee bought the final example of that model.

In 1955 the 150hp Lycoming O-320 engine became available and was adopted as the standard engine for the PA-18-150. A few PA-18-135s were still built after that, but very few.

The PA-18-150 continued in production right up until the last one was produced as a 1983 model, actually built in November 1982. This was ferryed from Lock to Lubbock, Texas, during the New Year holiday vacation of 1982-83.

The military also utilised some special versions of the PA18. The first was known as the L-18C, a PA-18-90 with the observation greenhouse rear enclosure and first coming out in July 1950. In 1951 the military began receiving L-21A models, a military version of the PA-18-125. In 1952 the L-21B, a military version of the PA-18-135, became available.

The PA-18-95 was powered with a Continental C-90 engine. Like the PA-11 from which it was derived, it had no flaps, had a straight elevator (no counterbalancing horns) and one 18 gallon fuel tank in the left wing. Another 18 gallon tank for the right wing was optional. The initial price in 1949 was $5,850. Surprisingly, even though more powerful models were being manufactured, the PA-18-95 continued in production until 1961.

Also in 1952 was the PA-18-105 Special, or PA-18T, built for the Civil Air Patrol and the US Army and Air Force flying clubs as a trainer. These models had the Lycoming O-235-C1 engine, toe brakes, no flaps and the big tail with an upper and lower elevator bungee spring system, along with some other special options. Two hundred and forty-three of these aircraft were built.

In 1955 Piper built a very small number of L-21B "Modified" models which utilised the 112kW Lycoming O-320 engine.

Another PA-18 model was the PA-18A (for Agricultural) which began with the 1952 model year. These were equipped for spraying or dusting of dry material from a hopper located in the rear seat area. The fuselage frame of these models was beefed up considerably and lacked the familiar turtle deck arches, giving it a flat back look.
When production ended a total of 2,650 PA-18A had been built

So the first PA-18 was built in Lock Haven in November 1949 and the last was built in November 1982. A total of 10,326 units were built during that time. The financial situation leed to the company disposing of all rights in this aircraft to WTA Inc. of Lubbock, Texas, in 1981.

A total of 10, 222 models were built 1982.

When Stuart Millar bought Piper from a holding company in 1986, one of his desires was to put the PA-18 back in production as a fully assembled turnkey aircraft, and also as an owner-assembled, fully-certified kit aeroplane. Piper of Vero Beach, set out to create the Cub Kit Programme and help get the production version off the ground.

The first Vero Beach Super Cub was built in July 1988 as a $45.000 completed airplane or a $21,000 kit (minus engine and prop). In December 1989 the company filed for bankruptcy and the Cub Kit Programme was cancelled before any kits got out of the factory, but the production models continued through the bankruptcy and were built until December 1994 when the last Piper built Super Cub, N41594, rolled off the production line. One hundred and thirteen additional aircraft had been built in Vero Beach.

In total, Piper Aircraft built 10,326 Super Cubs between 1949 and 1994. Just 44 were built at Vero Beach - all the rest at Lock Haven. The biggest year for Super Cub production was 1953, when 1043 were built.

Some significant changes pertaining to the Super Cub's production occurred. In 1970 the method of welding the fuselage frame was converted to TIG welding from oxyacetylene. Also that year saw a change from covering with grade A cotton to Ceconite 101.

The 1977 models went to metal flaps and ailerons, Cleveland wheels and brakes with 6.00 x 6 tyres as standard, and an Alcor alternator kit for the electrical system.

All models were certified under FAA 1A2, except the PA-18A-135 under FAA AR-7.

Piper built 838 PA-18s with the 71kW Continental C90-8F engine for the US Army under the designation L-18C, 108 of this total being supplied to foreign nations under the Military Aid Program, and the army then ordered 150 examples of the generally similar L-21A which differed by having the 92kW Avco Lycoming O-290-II engine; at a later date a number of these aircraft were converted for use as trainers, then being redesignated TL-21A. Under the designation YL-21 the US Army evaluated two examples of a version of the PA-18 Cub powered by a 101kW Avco Lycoming O-290-D2 engine, later acquiring a total of 584 under the designation L-21B, a number of them being supplied to foreign nations under MAP. In 1962 in-service L-21Bs were redesignated U-7A.

WTA Inc received from Piper rights to PA-18-150 Super Cub lightplane and PA-36 Brave agricultural aircraft; 250 Super Cubs built before becoming once again Piper type, while PA-36 produced as New Brave.

 

Gallery

 

Ultralight replica:
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Specificatons:

Piper PA 18 - 125 Super Cub

Engine : Lycoming O-290 D2C, 123 hp
Length : 22.507 ft / 6.86 m
Height : 6.627 ft / 2.02 m
Wingspan : 35.302 ft / 10.76 m
Wing area : 178.037 sq.ft / 16.54 sq.m
Max take off weight : 1565.6 lb / 710.0 kg
Weight empty : 1045.2 lb / 474.0 kg
Max. weight carried : 520.4 lb / 236.0 kg
Max. speed : 109 kt / 201 km/h
Initial climb rate : 866.14 ft/min / 4.4 m/s
Service ceiling : 17110 ft / 5215 m
Wing load : 8.82 lb/sq.ft / 43.0 kg/sq.m
Range : 216 nm / 400 km
Endurance : 3 h
Crew : 2

PA-18 Super Cub 150
Engine: Lycoming O-320, 150 hp / 112kW
TBO: 2000 hrs
Prop: 2-blade, 74/76-in
Length: 22ft 5in
Height: 6ft 8in
Wingspan: 35ft 3in / 10.73 m
Wing area: 179 sq.ft / 16.58 sq.m
Wing aspect ratio: 6.98
Maximum ramp weight: 1750 lbs / 794 kg
Maximum takeoff weight: 1750 lbs / 794 kg
Standard empty weight: 984 lbs / 446 kg
Maximum useful load: 766 lbs
Payload max fuel: 566 lb
Maximum landing weight: 1750 lbs
Wing loading: 9.77 lbs/sq.ft
Power loading: 11.66 lbs/hp
Maximum usable fuel: 215 lbs
Fuel cap Std: 36 US Gal
Best rate of climb: 960 @ 65 kts
Climb gradient: 886 ft/nm
ROC @ 8000 ft: 600 fpm
Take off (50ft): 500 ft
Service ceiling: 19,000 ft / 5790 m
Maximum speed: 113 kts / 209 km/h / 130 mph
Normal cruise @ 65% pwr @ 8000 ft: 100 kts
Fuel flow @ normal cruise: 40 pph
Endurance at normal cruise: 5.3 hrs
Range max fuel/75% pwr: 400 nm/3.3hr
Stalling speed clean: 40 kts
Stalling speed flaps down: 37 kts
Turbulent-air penetration speed: 83 kts
Fixed tail wheel under carriage
Seating cap: 2
Baggage cap: 50lbs
1.3 Vso: 48 kt
Min field length: 885 ft
Seats: 2

 

 


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