Van's Aircraft RV-3

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Vans RV-3 (N46HC).jpg
Role RV-3
National origin United States
Manufacturer Van's Aircraft
Designer Richard VanGrunsven
Introduction 1971
Status RV-3: Production completed
RV-3B: In production
Number built 302 (April 2019)[1]
Unit cost
Developed from Stits Playboy
Van's Aircraft RV-3, showing the design's low frontal area

The Van's RV-3 is a single-seat, single-engine, low-wing kit aircraft sold by Van's Aircraft.[2] Unlike many other aircraft in the RV line, the RV-3 is only available as a tail-wheel equipped aircraft, although it is possible that some may have been completed by builders as nose-wheel versions. The RV-3 is the genesis design for the rest of the RV series, all which strongly resemble the RV-3. The RV-4 was originally developed as a two-seat RV-3.


The architect of the line of Van's aircraft, Richard VanGrunsven, designed the RV-3 in the late 1960s after experience flying the Stits Playboy amateur-built aircraft. The RV-3 started out as an attempt to maintain the Playboy's layout and concept but to improve it in every regard. The RV-3 was designed to have light handling, aerobatic capabilities, fast cruise speeds, and short field STOL capabilities. The RV-3 was also designed from the start for serious travel and as such carries 30 US gallons of fuel, giving it a range of about 600 statute miles. The design horsepower is 100-150, typically using a Lycoming O-235 or Lycoming O-320 powerplant. Some builders have fitted RV-3s with more powerful engines, however.

The RV-3 uses a NACA 23012 airfoil on a constant chord wing. Construction is semi-monocoque of predominantly 2024-T3 aluminum sheet. The wings are built around an aluminum I-beam spar with a lighter rear spar. The aircraft has plain flaps operated by a handle. The main landing gear is attached directly to the welded steel engine mount and consists of tapered, sprung steel tubes. Construction time for the RV-3 is reported to be 1300 hours for a first time builder.

The very first RV-3 built by VanGrunsven won "Best Aerodynamic Detailing" at the 1972 EAA Oshkosh Convention.

There is an RV-3A model, but its designation does not follow VanGrunsven's normal system, where "A" models are nosewheel equipped versions. An RV-3A is an early RV-3 that has undergone rear spar and wing root upgrades as described in Van's publication CN-1. Due to ongoing structural concerns, the production of RV-3 kits was suspended in 1996. Continued customer demand for the single seat design resulted in VanGrunsven engineering a new wing for the RV-3. Production of kits was restarted a few years later. New aircraft completed since the wing redesign and aircraft that have been retrofitted with the new wing are referred to as an RV-3B.

By April 2019, 302 RV-3s have been completed and flown.[1]

Aircraft on display[edit]

Specifications (RV-3B)[edit]

Van's Aircraft RV-3 instrument panel

General characteristics


See also[edit]

Related development

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era


  1. ^ a b Vans Aircraft (April 2019). "First Flights". Retrieved 13 April 2019.
  2. ^ Vandermeullen, Richard: 2012 Kit Aircraft Buyer's Guide, Kitplanes, Volume 28, Number 12, December 2011, page 74. Belvoir Publications. ISSN 0891-1851
  3. ^ EAA AirVenture Museum (2012). "Van Grunsven RV-3 Prototype – N17RV". Retrieved 11 May 2012.
  • Van's Aircraft Website
  • Armstrong, Kenneth, Choosing Your Homebuilt – The One You'll Finish And Fly, Butterfield Press, Templeton CA 1993.
  • Bowers, Peter M, Guide to Homebuilts 9th Edition, TAB Books Blue Ridge Summit PA, 1984.
  • Plane and Pilot, 1978 Aircraft Directory, Werner and Werner, Santa Monica CA 1978

External links[edit]