Schweizer SGS 2-8
|US Marine Corps LNS-1s in 1942|
|National origin||United States|
|Manufacturer||Schweizer Aircraft Corporation|
|Designer||Ernest and Paul A Schweizer|
|First flight||June 1938|
The 2-8 was originally known simply as "The Schweizer Two-Place" when it first flew in June 1938. When World War II started the 2-8 became a military trainer for the US Army, Navy and Marines and all existing aircraft were drafted into military service. After the war they were sold as surplus and quickly became sought after in civil soaring for their structural strength, lightness and their rugged all-metal design. The 2-8 became one of the most popular post war trainers in the USA.
Design and development
During the 1920s and 30s gliding was often self-taught or taught in single place sailplanes. An instructor would often coach the student using hand signals from the automobile towing the glider into the air. By the mid-1930s the benefits of having a two-place glider for training were beginning to be recognized by glider instructors.
A number of two-place designs were demonstrated in the US, including the Gross Sky Ghost in 1932, the Funk two-place and the Bowlus-duPont two place, both of which first flew in 1933.
The Schweizer Metal Aircraft Company built the 2-8 prototype over the winter of 1937-38. The aircraft was completed and first flew in June 1938, in time to fly in the US National Soaring Championships.
The first dozen 2-8s delivered went to clubs and individuals and were not certified aircraft at that time. One 2-8 was ordered by the Soaring Society of America for use by their general manager, Henry Wightman, and was flown from the Washington DC area.
At the time of the sale to SSA, Bob McDowell, the attorney who notarized the bill of sale, indicated to the Schweizers that they should move their manufacturing operation out of their father's barn and relocate to the Elmira, NY area. The Schweizers received the suggestion positively as they needed more space to produce gliders, but they had no money with which to make the move. McDowell convinced Elmira Industries Inc, the local business development corporation, to provide space for the Schweizers on the second floor of the Elmira Knitting Mill Building in return for stock in the company. This resulted in the Schweizer Metal Aircraft Company becoming the Schweizer Aircraft Corporation, with a sale of shares to Elmira Industries, local businessmen and soaring pilots.
The 2-8 received type certificate GTC 5 on 28 June 1940.
Manufactured aircraft are known as SGS 2-8s while those assembled from factory kits are designated as SGS 2-8A.
In April 1941 the Schweizers were contacted by the US Army Air Force. The USAAF, impressed by the Luftwaffe's use of gliders to capture the Belgian fortress of Eben-Emael during the campaign of the previous summer, had decided to commence a glider pilot training program. The USAAF was in need of training gliders and the Schweizers offered the SGS 2-8 as the ideal aircraft for the role.
On August 10, 1941 the AAF issued a statement on the procurement of the 2-8:
"What is probably a record in procurement was established in the case of the contract with the Schweizer Aircraft Corporation of Elmira New York. This contract, covering three two-place gliders to CAA Class 2 requirements, with certain modifications, was signed in Washington DC on June 27, 1941. The first glider under contract has its initial flight test July 2, at Big Flats Airport, Elmira, New York and is now at Wright Field." 
In the first part of 1942 Lieutenant General William S. Knudsen of the War Production Board conducted an inspection of the Schweizer factory, still located on the second floor of the Elmira Knitting Mill. He looked at the antiquated plant and instructed the Schweizers to "get out of here". He was instrumental in the move of the 2-8 production line to a new plant built for Schweizer Aircraft by the Defense Plants Corporation at the soon-to-be completed Chemung County Airport.
Because the 2-8 was made from aluminum and steel, which were both declared "strategic materials", a replacement design was needed. The Schweizers designed the SGS 2-12 as a wooden version of the 2-8, incorporating some improvements, such as a lower-mounted cantilever wing to improve instructor visibility. The 2-12 succeeded the 2-8 in production and 114 were produced with the designation TG-3A.
Competitions & Records
Distance flying in the 2-8 is challenging, given its 23:1 glide ratio and red-line speed limit of just 72 mph (117 km/h). SGS 2-8s were flown in several US national competitions and held a number of records at one time.
In May 2008 there were still 23 SGS 2-8s registered in the USA along with one 2-8A.
- SGS 2-8
- The basic factory produced model was designated as the SGS 2-8.
- SGS 2-8A
- SGS 2-8s assembled from factory kits were accepted as certified aircraft and were designated as SGS 2-8A. They were otherwise identical to the 2-8.
- The production version of the 2-8 for the US Army Air Force was given the military designation of TG-2, indicating "Training Glider 2".
- The designation of TG-2A was applied to previously produced civilian versions of the 2-8 that were conscripted into USAAF use. The military tracked down all 2-8s in the USA and bought them for military training from their civilian owners.
- The production version constructed for the US Navy and US Marines was designated as the LNS-1.
Aircraft on display
There is a 2-8, N10VV, in the National Soaring Museum and three versions of the LNS-1, on loan to the National Warplane Museum, the Marine Corps Aviation Museum in Quantico, Virginia and in the National Museum of Naval Aviation at Pensacola, Florida.
- Crew: Two
- Wingspan: 52 ft 0 in (18.84 m)
- Wing area: 214 ft2 (19.88 m2)
- Aspect ratio: 12.6
- Wing profile: NACA 4412
- Empty weight: 450 lb (204 kg)
- Gross weight: 860 lb (390 kg)
- Maximum speed: 72 mph (115 km/h)
- Maximum glide ratio: 23 at 42 mph (67 km/h)
- Rate of sink: 165 ft/min (0.84 m/s)
- Related lists
- Schweizer, Paul A: Wings Like Eagles, The Story of Soaring in the United States, pages 62-63. Smithsonian Institution Press, 1988. ISBN 0-87474-828-3
- Said, Bob: 1983 Sailplane Directory, Soaring Magazine, pages 26. Soaring Society of America, November 1983. USPS 499-920
- Activate Media (2006). "SGS 2-8 Schweizer". Retrieved 2008-05-10.
- Schweizer, Paul A: Wings Like Eagles, The Story of Soaring in the United States, page 69. Smithsonian Institution Press, 1988. ISBN 0-87474-828-3
- Federal Aviation Administration (September 2007). "TYPE CERTIFICATE DATA SHEET NO. GTC 5". Retrieved 2008-04-15.
- K & L Soaring (n.d.). "K & L Soaring, LLC". Retrieved 2008-04-05.
- Schweizer, Paul A: Wings Like Eagles, The Story of Soaring in the United States, page 78. Smithsonian Institution Press, 1988. ISBN 0-87474-828-3
- Schweizer, Paul A: Wings Like Eagles, The Story of Soaring in the United States, page 85. Smithsonian Institution Press, 1988. ISBN 0-87474-828-3
- Federal Aviation Administration (May 2008). "FAA Registry". Retrieved 2008-05-10.
- Munson, J. (n.d.). "Sailplanes in Our Collection". Retrieved 2008-04-15.
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