Rearwin Airplanes Inc.

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Rearwin Airplanes Inc.
Aircraft Manufacturer
Successor Empire Ordnance Company, Commonwealth Aircraft
Founded 1928
Headquarters Kansas
Key people
R.A. Rearwin, Royce Rearwin, Ken Rearwin
Subsidiaries Ken-Royce Engines

Rearwin Airplanes was a US airplane-manufacturing enterprise founded by Andrew ("Rae") Rearwin in 1928.[1] Rae Rearwin was an American businessman who had developed several successful business ventures in the Salina, Kansas area in the early 20th century. Although he had no experience with aircraft manufacturing (and no pilot training), he felt that he could succeed with his solid business acumen. With his two sons, Ken and Royce, he hired some engineers and built the Ken-Royce in a garage in Salina.

The factory was moved to the Fairfax Airport in Kansas City, KS.

The LeBlond Aircraft Engine Corporation was purchased in 1937 and gave Rearwin a direct source of 5- and 7-cylinder radial engines.

Rearwin Airplanes was sold to Commonwealth Aircraft in 1942, and Commonwealth continued production of the Rearwin-designed Skyranger for one year (through 1946).



Named after his two sons (and a play on the Rolls-Royce name that meant quality products), this 2-seat biplane received US ATC number 323 in September 1929. the Ken-Royce was powered by a 170HP Curtiss Challenger radial engine. Only one known example of the type exists today.


This small high-wing monoplane was designed to be inexpensive and easily approachable. It resembled an American Eaglet and was produced as the model 3000 and model 4000. Only one known example of the type exists today.


Originally designed in 1934, this modern-looking airplane was narrow and impressive looking. However, it was unable to pass the stringent aircraft spin tests for several years. A young engineer named Bob Rummell was brought in to solve the problem (and did), but the delay to market proved fatal and only about 11 were made, since less expensive models were already available. However, the Speedster remains one of Rearwin's most exciting designs, as demonstrated by the numerous model kits that were produced for the modeling and R/C enthusiasts.


Many Sportsters were exported to South America, Africa and Australia due to its large 24-gallon (91 liter) fuel capacity. The Siamese (Thai) air force bought several. A Sportster variant called the GV-38 was produced by the Gotaverken Shipyard in Sweden in 1938. As many as 15 may have been built, with 4 known to still exist in museums in Denmark and Sweden.


Rearwin 8135 Cloudster
This side-by-side model offered more cabin room than the Speedster and was popular with enthusiasts and as a trainer (model 8135T). The trainer was used by the Rearwin flight school and also by TWA and Pan American Airways. Juan Trippe, founder of PAA, owned a Sportster and later a Cloudster. One of Ken Rearwin's largest sales was 25 Cloudsters to Iran in 1941. Approximately 124 Cloudsters were built.


The Skyranger was Rearwin's last design.[2] It was popular due to its easy and stable flight characteristics. Serial numbers in the 1500s were built by Rearwin prior to the company's 1942 sale. The serial numbers in the 1600s are Commonwealth Skyrangers (with many minor modifications but essentially the same airplane).


  1. ^ Donald M. Pattillo. A History in the Making: 80 Turbulent Years in the American General Aviation Industry. p. 20. 
  2. ^ Juptner, Joseph P.: U.S. Civil Aircraft Series Volume 8, ATC 701-800 TAB Books, 1994 ISBN 0-8168-9178-8


  • Wright, Bill. Rearwin: A Story of Men, Planes, and Aircraft Manufacturing During the Great Depression. Sunflower University Press, 1997. ISBN 0-89745-207-0.
  • Juptner, Joseph P. United States Civil Aircraft McGraw-Hill, 1982. ISBN 0-8168-9182-6.

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