Piper PA-11

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PA-11 Cub Special
Piper PA-11 Super Cub CF-CUB 1947 model Photo 1.JPG
Role Light aircraft
National origin USA
Manufacturer Piper Aircraft
First flight August 1946
Introduction 1947
Status still in operation
Primary user private pilot owners
Produced 1947-1949
Number built 1,541[1]
Developed from Piper J-3 Cub
Variants Piper PA-18 Super Cub

The Piper PA-11 Cub Special is a later-production variant of the J-3 Cub manufactured by Piper Aircraft.

Design and development[edit]

PA-11 landing

The airframe is basically the same as a J-3, but the engine mount is angled slightly lower, with the windshield sloped at a shallower angle; the engine cowling fully enclosed (as on the earlier J-5), and the fuel tank raised and placed in the port wing root.[2] Both seats were slightly moved back, and solo flying was usually from the front seat. Early PA-11s had a Continental A65-8 engine, while the later ones had the option of a Continental C90-8.[2]

On the early PA-11s, the fuselage was painted with a metallic blue on the lower half the rest being Lock Haven Yellow. The later PA-11s were all yellow with a simple brown stripe.

PA-11 Cub Special at Chelles airfield near Paris in June 1967

With a gross weight of 1,220 lb (553 kg) and average empty weight of 750 lb (340 kg), the PA-11 is a light enough to perform well, yet heavy enough to maneuver easily in more wind than the lighter J-3 Cub. The PA-11 is capable of short takeoffs and landings, yet has a respectable cruising speed for its configuration. Given that the PA-11 falls into the modern day category of light sport aircraft, it is a popular airplane to acquire and commands a premium price.


Float-equipped PA-11S at Seattle Renton in 1973

The PA-11 was one of the first aircraft to be used in experiments with the nose wheel (also known as tricycle gear) configuration. Although its original design is intended to be a tail-dragger, a modification was created to mount a nose wheel.

The nose wheel is attached to the two rear engine mounts by y-shaped steel tubes attached to a steel tube with a shaft that slides freely with the wheel. Cables run underneath the belly directly from fixtures on the rudder pedals to the nose wheel shaft. This gave the ability to steer by pivoting the nose wheel shaft with the rudder pedals. The shock system consisted of six circular bungee cords, sometimes four for softer landings, located on either side of the nose wheel shaft to ears on the top tube and the bottom shaft connected to the wheel.

For the aircraft to balance properly with the nose wheel, the main gear was flipped around so that the center of balance would move forward. The pilot would sit in the front seat for added stability.

Most PA-11s in service today retain the original tail wheel undercarriage layout.[3] Numbers of Cub Specials have been converted for flight operation using floats.

The PA-11 also formed the basis for the next evolution in the Cub series, the PA-18 Super Cub, which shares many features.


Piper PA-11 Cub Special
Two-seat light aircraft, powered by a 65 hp (48 kW) Continental A65-8 piston engine
Military version of the PA-11 Cub Special, powered by a 95 hp (71 kW) Continental C90-8F piston engine, 105 built and delivered to Turkey, under the Military Assistance Program


Military operators[edit]


Specifications (PA-11 with 90 hp Continental engine)[edit]

Data from Piper Aircraft and Their Forerunners [4]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 1
  • Capacity: 1 passenger
  • Payload: 470 lbs (213 kg)
  • Length: 22 ft 4 in (6.8 m)
  • Wingspan: 35 ft 2 in (10.7 m)
  • Height: 6 ft 8 in (2.03 m)
  • Empty weight: 750 lb (340 kg)
  • Useful load: 470 lb (213 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 1,220 lb (553 kg)
  • Powerplant: × 1 Continental C90-8, 90 hp (67 kW) each



  1. ^ Simpson 2005, p. 230.
  2. ^ a b Peperell 1987, p. 55.
  3. ^ Peperell 1987, pp. 55–57.
  4. ^ Peperell 1987, p. 57.
  • Peperell, Roger. Piper Aircraft and Their Forerunners. Tunbridge Wells, Kent, UK: Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd, 1987. ISBN 0-85130-149-5.
  • Simpson, Rod. General Aviation Handbook. Leicester, UK: Midland Publishing, 2005. ISBN 978-1-85780-222-1.

External links[edit]

Media related to Piper PA-11 Cub Special at Wikimedia Commons