The Aeronca K series, Aeronca Chief, Aeronca Super Chief, Aeronca Tandem, Aeronca Scout, Aeronca Sea Scout, Aeronca Champion and Aeronca Defender were a family of American high-winged light touring aircraft, designed and built from the late 1930s.
Aeronca was noted for producing light side-by-side two-seat touring aircraft since the introduction of the Aeronca C-2 in 1929. A more refined aircraft with an improved undercarriage and steel tube wing bracing struts in place of wires, was developed in 1937 as the Aeronca K, powered by a 42 hp (31 kW) Aeronca E-113 engine, beginning the long line of Aeronca high wing touring, training, military liaison and observation aircraft of the 1930s and 1940s. The K series was powered by a variety of 40 hp (30 kW) to 50 hp (37 kW) Aeronca, Continental, Franklin or Menasco engines.
Consumer demand for more comfort, longer range and better instrumentation resulted in development of the Aeronca 50 Chief in 1938. Although little more than an incremental development of the K series the Model 50 heralded a new designation system used for the high-winged tourers, including the manufacturer and power rating of the engine, dropping the letter designation system. Thus the Aeronca 65CA Super Chief' was powered by a 65 hp (48 kW) Continental A-65 with side-by-side seating and improvements over the 65C Super Chief. Other developments included tandem seating for use as trainer, liaison, observation aircraft or glider trainers as well as float-plane versions. Throughout the production life of the Aeronca Chief family the aircraft was improved incrementally, from a rather basic specification to a reasonably comfortable tourer with car-style interior.
The Aeronca high-wing formula used a welded steel tube fuselage covered with fabric, wooden wings covered with plywood and fabric braced by V-struts to the rear undercarriage attachment point on the lower fuselage. Tail surfaces were also built up with welded steel tubing covered with fabric. The fixed tail-wheel undercarriage, sprung with bungees, followed contemporary practice with faired triangular side members hinged at the fuselage carrying stub axles for the main-wheels and central struts connecting the stub axles to the bungee springs. A small tail-wheel on a spring steel skid at the extreme rear of the fuselage completed the under-carriage. The engine is fitted conventionally in the nose and was either semi-cowled or fully cowled using sheet aluminium alloy, depending on model. Most civilian models had side-by-side seating in a well-glazed cabin under the wing centre-section, with entry through car style doors either side. A tandem seating arrangement was developed for training and military models with the rear seat mounted 9 in (229 mm) inches higher than the front to allow the instructor to use the same instruments as the trainee and improve forward view from the back seat. Tandem seat aircraft had extensively glazed cockpits to allow good all-round visibility.
A wide variety of engines were available for use on the Aeronca Chief series, including home grown Aeronca engines and Continental, Franklin, Menasco or Lycoming engines. The engine installed was reflected in the designation using the initial letter as a suffix in the designation.
Aeronca continued development during World War II, introducing the tandem seating Aeronca 7 Champion, taking advantage of the refinements developed with previous versions. The Champion is often regarded as a completely new design, but the influence of the Chief and Tandem is readily apparent. A side-by-side version was also introduced in 1945 as the Aeronca 11 Chief. Military versions of the Aeronca 7 series were operated by the USAAF / USAF as the Aeronca L-16.
(1937). A drastic re-design of the Aeronca C using steel tube braced wings in place of king-posts and wire bracing, new undercarriage, enclosed cabin, more powerful engine and many other detail refinements. Initial versions had a door on one side only. Powered by a 42 hp (31 kW) Aeronca E-113. 344 built
Aeronca KC Scout
(1937) detail improvements including doors either side. Powered by a 40 hp (30 kW) Continental A-40. 34 built.
Aeronca KC Sea Scout
Float-plane conversions of the two-door Scout
Aeronca KCA Chief
(1938) Introduced a wider cabin for improved comfort, evolved into the wide-cabin 50C Chief. Powered by a 50 hp (37 kW) Continental A-50. 62 built.
Aeronca KF Chief
(1938) a Franklin engined version of the Model K. Evolved into the 50F Chief. Powered by a 50 hp (37 kW) Franklin 4AC. 5 built.
Aeronca KM Chief
(1938) a Menasco engined version of the Model K. Evolved into the 50M Chief. Powered by a 50 hp (37 kW) Menasco M-50. 9 built.
Aeronca KS Sea Scout
(1937) Production float-plane versions of the Model K. 13 built.
(1938) An improved KCA with a wider cabin, powered by a 50 hp (37 kW) Continental A-50. 248 built. The first light-plane to fly non-stop from Los Angeles to New York City, on 29–30 November 1938, covering 2,785 mi (4,482 km)miles in 30hours 47minutes, averaging 90 mph (145 km/h), with an impressive fuel cost-per-mile of about one cent.
(1947) Powered by a 85 hp (63 kW) Continental C-85-8 and fitted with improved undercarriage, reinforced fuselage, and other refinements. 509 were built, all of which were delivered to the USAAF as Aeronca L-16As.
Aeronca 7CCM Champion
(1948) Powered by a 90 hp (67 kW) Continental C-90-8F (O-205-1), fitted with a larger dorsal fin and wing tanks. 125 civilian models were built. (100 built for the USAAF as the L-16B)
(1948) Powered by a 85 hp (63 kW) Continental C-85-8, fitted with a dorsal fin and larger tail-plane. 168 built.
Aeronca 7DCM Farm Wagon
The 7DC fitted with a wood-lined cargo bin.
Aeronca 7DCS Champion
The 7DCS (akaS7DC) was the float-plane version with a ventral fin.
(1941) The military version of the Model 65T Tandem with greenhouse cabin and 65 hp (48 kW) YO-170 / O-170-3, similar to civil models. Originally designated in the Observation category, changed to the Liaison category in 1942.