To counter competition from Beech's Bonanza and North American's Navion, work began, under the direction of project engineer Web Moore, on a higher performance aircraft based on the Cessna 170B.
Cessna took a Cessna 170 fuselage and installed a Conti-nental six-cylinder engine 0-470, together with a Hartzell constant speed aluminium alloy propeller. In its original form, the 0-470-A, the engine developed 225 horsepower/168kW, and to compensate for the extra torque on take-off the characteristic rounded tailfin (which had featured on all Cessnas since 1927) was replaced by a big bold square tail and larger and more powerful elevators were required. But by the time the prototype Cessna 180 (NX41697, c/n 604) had reached flying stage on 26 May 1952 (Piloted by Cessna’s chief pilot, Hank Waring), the type had gained a completely new fuselage.
The all metal wing section was of the classic 'NACA 2412’ series the same wing and flap system as the Model 170B, and included slotted Fowler flaps and the chrome vanadium spring steel undercarriage legs also found in the Cessna 170 and Cessna 305 (Bird Dog). In those days the Fowler flaps were dubbed "Para Lift” flaps, by Cessna and were operated by a single lever (known as the Johnson bar). The flap lowering speed was initially 100 mph (87 knots), until 1964 when it was increased to 110 mph (95 knots). With the airspeed indicator now in knots, from 1976 onwards 10 degrees could be lowered at speeds up to 120 knots, with VFE for the 20- to 40-degree settings being 90 knots. The additional power available for the Model 180 permitted an increase in maximum take-off weight from 998 to 1157kg with the same wing area of 16.16sq.m.
Fuel was in gravity feed from wing tanks originally "cells" but "wet wings" eventually became the norm. The early models held 60 gallons, but between 1957 and 1964 the Cessna 180s were fitted with 65-gallon tanks and the 84-gallon tanks were a later option.
Certification of the type was achieved on 23 December 1952 and the first production machines rolled out in October 1952, customer deliveries began in February of 1953. Floats and skis were approved from the early days. The "prototype” aircraft was scrapped in May 1954.
Production of the Cessna model 180 began in 1953 with the production prototype, N2800A. This model had no external baggage door and was powered by the Continental 0-470-A engine, which gave 225 hp at 2,600 rpm. In 1954 the outside baggage door was introduced and the powerplant was changed to the 0-470-J near the end of the production year, giving the same power output at 50 less rpm.
In 1955 the spring steel undercarriage was raked forward three inches to improve ground handling. A heavier windshield was fitted, as well as other sound proofing in the cabin. The fresh air inlets near the wing roots were moved further out along the wing leading edge-beyond the propeller slipstream in an effort to further reduce the interior noise levels.
In 1956 the Continental 0-470-K of 230 hp at 2,600 rpm came on stream with larger steel cast cylinder heads with thinner, and therefore more, cooling fins. Dynamic dampeners were fitted and revised engine mounts made for a smoother engine. A large single stainless steel muffler and exhaust pipe replaced the previous dual muffler system and accordingly the engine cowling was redesigned with the carburettor air scoop now at the bottom. The fuel vent to the main tanks was moved from above the left wing root to behind the left wing strut. This year also saw Cessna add a nosewheel to the 180 to create the model 182.
The Cessna 180A was released in 1957, which had an increase in its maximum take-off weight of 100 lbs and stronger undercarriage legs. Electric fuel gauges also appeared, replacing the manual variety, and the fuel capacity was upped to 65 gallons. In 1958 the exhaust was moved to the right-hand side to direct the outflow beneath the fuselage, instead of the previous tendency to stain along the left-hand side due to slipstream effects. A new ratchet mechanism was also added to prevent the trim wheel from creeping.
In 1959 the Model 180B was released. Changes included heavier door hinges and another revised instrument panel.
1960. Model 180C released. Mark ruled with Continental 0-470-L and incorporated a new cowl and nose cap. The wing fuel filler caps were made flush, and a redesigned bulkhead and fuselage top skin gave increased headroom in rear seat area.
Cessna 180C ZK-BXV
In 1961 the Model 180D was released. Bendix "shower of sparks" magnetos were fitted. New lever type of cowl flap control introduced. A "heavy-duty" version of the Cessna 180 with more power and a greater useful load was introduced as the Cessna 185.
In 1962 the Model 180E was released, fitted with a Continental 0-470-R engine and new wingtips. New fuel tank outlets were also added (to give two per tank) to improve fuel flow.
Released in 1963 the Model 180F had magnetos changed to the impulse model, new magnesium cast rudder pedals fitted and lighting controls for the instruments were introduced into an overhead panel. A 10-degree flap position was also introduced.
The 1964 Model 180G featured a third window added to the fuselage side, with scaling for six an option. Cessna 185 landing gear with a strengthened axle fitted. VNE was increased to 192 mph (from 184), and flap extension speed increased to 110 mph. MAUW increased by 150 lbs. Generator replaced with a 52-amp alternator.
The Model 180H was released in1965 featuring the Cessna 182 firewall, making the 180 and the 185 basic airframe identical. The panel was redesign with a central radio stack. In 1967 a more pointed propeller spinner was introduced and the rear baggage area extended. A 60-amp alternater fitted, and Cleveland brakes became standard, and in 1969, the Skywagon name used for the first time. 1970 introduced the conical camber wingtip, which reduced the wingspan by four inches.
In 1973 the Model 180J was released and the "Camber Lift' wing appeared with its bonded loading edge (the same modified 2412 airfoil, further modified). The instrument panel was again revised and now incorporated rocker switches, and the two landing lights moved from the wings to the engine cowling. In 1974 a redesigned vertical fin attachment was fitted.
In 1975 the powerplant changed to the Continental O-470-S and a float plane kit included the Cessna vertical fin/fillet.
In 1976 the airspeed indicator was changed to knots, the flap extension speed was increased to 120 knots and McCauley main wheels and brakes were introduced.
In 1977 Model 180K was released. The high compression Continental 0-470-U was fitted, which gave 230 hp at 200 rpm less to satisfy the noise certification requirements. This engine was actually the IO-470-U with the fuel injection removed and run at only 2400 revolutions; run at 2,600 rpm the engine produces 250 hp. A vernier mixture control became standard, and stronger McCauley tailwheel on strengthened spring tube was also fitted. The fuel bladder tanks were replaced by "wet wing" tankage of 88 gallons in 1979.
CE-180K Skywagn II
In the late 1970s the Model 180 was available in two forms: the basic Model 180 Skywagon, and the improved Model 180 Skywagon II with a factory-installed avionics package.
In 1981, thirty-five aircraft were built in this, the 180's final production year. By 10 September 1981, when the last Cessna 180 rolled off the production line, 7203 had been built. This last aircraft (53203) became VH-MQQ on 10 October 1981.
The empty weights have changed from 1953, 1480 lbs; 1555 lbs, 1957, and 1525 lbs in 1964. The gross weights from 1953: 2550 lbs, 1957: 2650 lbs and 1964: 2800 lbs. Service ceiling of 19,000 ft. The first 180s, 1953 through 1956, had a factory list price of $12,950. This was up to $30,150 for the 1976 model.
Engine: Continental O-470A, 225 hp.
MTOW: 2550 lb.
Engine: Continental O-470K, J or R, 225 hp.
Wheel track: 7 ft 8 in.
Engine: 230 hp.
Wing span: 35 ft 10 in.
Length: 25 ft 9 in.
Height: 7 ft 9 in.
Empty wt: 1560 lbs.
Gross wt: 2800 lbs.
Useful load: 1240 lbs.
Wing loading: 16.1 lbs/sq.ft.
Pwr loading: 12.2 lbs/hp.
Baggage cap: 400 lbs.
Max speed: 149 kts / 170 mph.
Cruise: 141 kts / 162 mph.
Stall: 48 kts / 55 mph.
Initial ROC: 1090 fpm.
Service ceiling: 19,600 ft.
Range (65 USG): 695 sm.
Engine: Continental O-470R.
1977 CE-180 Skywagon
Engine: 1 x Continental O-470-U, 230 hp.
Wing loading: 16.1 lb/sq.ft.
Pwr loading: 12.2 lb/hp.
Gross wt: 2800 lb.
Empty wt: 1617 lb.
Equipped useful load: 1097 lb.
Payload max fuel: 647 lb.
Range max fuel/75% pwr: 724nm/5.1hr.
Range max fuel / 55% pwr: 893 nm/ 7.2 hr.
Service ceiling: 17,700 ft.
75% cruise: 141 kt.
55% cruise: 125 kt.
Stall: 44-50 kt.
1.3 Vso: 57 kt.
ROC: 1100 fpm.
Min field length: 1365 ft.
Fuel cap: 336/450 lb.
1979 Cessna Skywagon 180
Engine: Continental 0-470-U, 230 hp.
Max speed: 148 kt.
Max cruise speed: 142 kt.
Max range: 1,010 nm.
Max usable fuel: 84 USG.
ROC: 1,100 fpm.
Service ceiling: 17,700 ft.
Takeoff dist 50 ft obstacle: 1,205 ft.
Landing dist 50 ft obstacle: 1,365 ft.
Max ramp wt: 2,810 lbs.
Max useful load: 1,167 lbs.
Cessna 1976 180J Skywagon
Engine: Continental O-470S, 230 hp
TBO: 1500 hr
Propeller: Const. spd.
Landing gear type: Fixed/Conv.
Gross weight: 2800 lb
Empty weight, std: 1617 lb
Useful load, std: 1183 lb
Fuel: 75 USgal
Wingspan: 36 ft.
Overall length: 25 ft. 9 in.
Height: 7 ft. 9 in.
Wing area: 174 sq. ft
Seating capacity: 4-6
Cabin width: 41 in
Cabin height: 47 in
Baggage capacity: 350lb
Cruise speed 75% power: 141kt
Cruise speed 65% power: 138 kt
Max range (w/ reserve) 75% power: 670 nm
Max range (w/ reserve) 65% power: 730 nm
Fuel consumption 75% power: 13.9 USgph
Fuel consumption 65% power: 12.2 USgph
Estimated endurance (65% power with 1-hr. reserve): 4 hrs.
Stall speed (gear, flaps down): 48 knots
Best rate of climb: 1090 fpm
Service ceiling: 19,600 ft
Takeoff ground roll: 625 ft
Landing ground roll: 480 ft