|Thorp T-18 in flight|
approximately $3670 to build in 1971
The aircraft was originally designed as an open cockpit aircraft, powered by a military surplus Lycoming O-290G ground power unit engine, but evolved into a fully bubble canopied aircraft powered by engines of up to 200 hp (149 kW).
Design and development
The T-18 was designed to be easily constructed from sheets of aluminum, and use the modified Lycoming O-290G powerplant. It was originally designed with an open cockpit and with the cylinder heads protruding through the engine cowling in the interest of simplicity. Even as originally designed, the cruising speed was quite high. The design showed great potential for higher performance and so modifications were created to install larger, cowled Lycoming engines and a bubble canopy. These modifications allow a T-18 with 125 hp (93 kW) to cruise at 160 mph (257 km/h) and higher-powered examples to cruise in excess of 200 mph (322 km/h). Some aircraft have been constructed with retractable landing gear.
The T-18 was designed to use the 125 hp (93 kW) Lycoming O-290G Ground Power Unit. At the time the T-18 was developed these engines were inexpensive and widely available as military surplus generator motors. When converted for aircraft use they are virtually identical to the O-290D or O-290D2 aircraft engines.
T-18 plans are currently available to builders from Eklund Engineering, which is also developing a laser-cut kit version and as of 2009 had aileron, flap and empennage kits. Classic Sport Aircraft supplies plans, parts, and kits for the S-18 and the S-18T tricycle gear version.
By 2011 over 1600 sets of plans had been sold and 400 examples were flying.
One T-18, N455DT, was built by Donald Taylor of California and flown around the world from Oshkosh, Wisconsin in 1976. This was the first successful circumnavigation of the world by a homebuilt aircraft. Taylor subsequently flew N455DT to the geographical North Pole, using a Sperry hybrid inertial navigation system.
Clive Canning flew another T-18 from Australia to England earlier the same year.
- Original model
- Modified T-18, with changes designed by Lou Sunderland to provide a 2" (5 cm) wider fuselage.
- Modified T-18, with changes designed by Lou Sunderland to provide a "convertible" wing that rotates back against the fuselage for trailering or storage.
- T-18 with wider fuselage and folding wing.
- Similar to T-18CW, with modified airfoil and other minor changes. The Sunderland changes were made in collaboration with Thorp.
Specifications (S-18 with Lycoming O-360)
- Crew: one
- Capacity: one passenger
- Length: 18 ft 10 in (5.77 m)
- Wingspan: 20 ft 10 in (6.35 m)
- Height: 5 ft 1 in (1.55)
- Wing area: 86 ft² (8 m²)
- Empty weight: 1000 lbs (454 kg)
- Loaded weight: 1600 lbs (725 kg)
- Useful load: 600 lbs (271 kg)
- Powerplant: × Lycoming O-360, 180 hp (135 kW) each
- Propellers: constant speed propeller, 1 per engine
- Propeller diameter: 72 in (1.83 m)
- Maximum speed: 200 mph (320 km/h)
- Cruise speed: 180 mph (292 km/h)
- Range: 540 sm (875 km) , 900 sm (1458 km) with optional wing tanks
- Rate of climb: 1500 fpm (7.6 m/s)
- Wing loading: 18.6 lb/ft² (90 kg/m²)
- Power/mass: 8.9 lb/hp (0.19 kW/kg)
- Leo J. Kohn (Winter 1971). "The true cost of building your own plane". Air Trails: 63.
- Eklund Engineering (undated). "Eklund Engineering". Retrieved 2009-05-26.
- Bayerl, Robby; Martin Berkemeier; et al: World Directory of Leisure Aviation 2011-12, page 98. WDLA UK, Lancaster UK, 2011. ISSN 1368-485X
- Bowers, Peter M. Guide to Homebuilts - 9th Edition, pages 124-127. Tab Books, 1984. ISBN 0-8306-2364-7
- Plane and Pilot: 1978 Aircraft Directory, page 157. Werner & Werner Corp, Santa Monica CA, 1977. ISBN 0-918312-00-0
- Classic Sport Aircraft (undated). "Kit and Component Pricing". Retrieved 2009-05-26.
- EAA AirVenture Museum (undated). "Thorp T-18". Retrieved 2009-11-21.
- Century of Flight (undated). "World Aviation in 1976". Retrieved 2009-11-28.
- Vandermeullen, Richard: 2012 Kit Aircraft Buyer's Guide, Kitplanes, Volume 28, Number 12, December 2011, page 48. Belvoir Publications. ISSN 0891-1851
- Eklund Engineering (undated). "T-18 specifications". Retrieved 2009-05-27.
- Classic Sport Aircraft (undated). "Performance". Retrieved 2009-05-27.
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