Luscombe aircraft was a United States aircraft manufacturer from 1933 to 1950.
Donald A. Luscombefounded the Luscombe aircraft company in 1933, in Kansas City, Missouri. Luscombe had already made his reputation as a winged-aircraft designer with the Monocoupe series of light aircraft, but he felt that the tube-and-fabric method of construction was too expensive and inefficient. He planned to create a light aircraft that was of an all-metal, monocoqueconstruction.
The new company's first aircraft was the Luscombe Model 1, commonly known as the
Luscombe Phantom. This was a high-wing, two-place monoplane of all-metal construction (except for the fabric wing covering). The Phantom was tricky to land, and was never a financial success.
Trenton, New Jersey
In the winter of 1934-1935, Luscombe Aircraft moved to
Trenton, New Jersey, and was incorporated as the Luscombe Aircraft Development Corporation. Shortly afterwards, the Luscombe School of Aeronautics also opened. Trainees from the school worked in the Luscombe factory, and the school helped support the aircraft company for many years.
In 1936, the company designed and began flying a simplified version of the Phantom known as the Luscombe 90, or Model 4. Much of the Phantom's complex compound-curved sheet metal was eliminated in favor of simplified single-curved sheets, and the hand-formed fairings were eliminated. Performance was not impressive.
pecifications: Model 4 (Luscombe 90)
* Engine: 90 hp (67 kW) Warner Scarab Jr.
* Length: 20 ft 11 in (6.4 m)
* Height: 6 ft 6 in (2.0 m)
* Wingspan: 32 ft 1 in (9.8 m)
* Gross Weight: 1725 pounds (782 kg)
* Useful Load: 622 pounds (282 kg)
* Max Speed: 136 mph (219 km/h)
* Cruise Speed: 120 mph (193 km/h)
* Range: 580 miles (933 km)
The Luscombe Aircraft Corporation was re-formed as a
New Jerseycompany in 1937, and a new design was begun. The Luscombe 50 (Model 8) was to become the company's most famous product. The Model 8 used the new horizontally-opposed small engines that had just been developed by the engine manufacturers. Just in case these engines didn't pan out, the aircraft was designed with a round firewall to minimize frontal area and simple construction. Although it was alleged this might allow the installation of a small radial engine if the flat four did not work, none of the original design engineers recall that being a design consideration.
The Model 8 followed in the Luscombe tradition of using no structural wood in the construction, and had a
monocoquefuselage with fabric-covered metal wings. For a cheap, light aircraft, this was a revolutionary construction technique. Its competitors were built of fabric-covered steel tubing, with wooden spars and sometimes ribs in the fabric-covered wings. Luscombe's construction techniques allowed it to build the aircraft quickly and cheaply, without sacrificing strength. these aircraft were also more efficient than conventional competitors, cruising 10-20 mph faster on the same power.
The new Luscombe sold well, and soon the factory was making changes to the design. Continental had upgraded the A-50 engine to the A-65 engine of 65 horsepower (48 kW). Luscombe quickly certified this engine on the Model 8, and began producing it as the Model 8A. In 1938 and 1939. A public offering diluted Donal Luscombe's stock interest in favor of other investors who saw a successful business emerging. Personality conflicts arose within the company, and Don Luscombe was forced out of the company in a proxy battle. Many Luscombe employees left with him at this time, also.
March of 1940 saw the introduction of another version of the Model 8, the 8B. This aircraft was powered by a Lycoming O-145-B3 engine of 65 horsepower (48 kW). A month later, the company developed the deluxe model 8C, powered by a Continental C-75-8J engine. The interior was finished off with maroon cloth and tan leather upholstery, with a shock-mounted section in the instrument panel. The deluxe model was named the Silvaire, (in a contest) and was sold with full-color advertising.
With war raging in Europe, stocks of
aluminumbegan to be rationed. Since the Model 8 was widely used in the Civilian Pilot Training Program, Luscombe was able to maintain production and get a reasonable allotment of the lightweight metal. To ensure future allotments and increase its share of the CPTP market, Luscombe developed the model 8D. The instrument panelwas changed so that it could be equipped with the necessary instruments for instrument flightand training, and so that radios could be installed easily. The 8D used the same 75 hp (56 kW) Continental engine as the 8C, but the 14 (US) gallon (53 L) fuselage tank was replaced by two 11.5 (US) gallon (44 L) wing tanks for greater range.
The man who had forced Don Luscombe out of the company was an
Austrian named Leopold Klotz. The government considered him to be an enemy alien, which led to the company being taken over by the government during World War II, where its facilities produced military aircraft sub assemblies. Luscombe Aircraft spent the war years doing subcontract work for other manufacturers. In 1944, the Vested Claims Committeeruled that Klotz was a resident neutral rather than an enemy alien, and his Luscombe holdings were restored to him.
During the war, Luscombe Aircraft moved from
Trenton, New Jerseyto Dallas, Texas. In anticipation of the postwar aircraft boom, and to satisfy military procurement contracts it had, Luscombe set up a large factory and re-tooled with new jigs capable of higher production volume than the pre-war factory had been capable of. Due to several factors, including a fire at one plant that destroyed most of their stock of cushions and upholstery, production in the latter part of 1945 was quite limited. During the war a redesign of the wing to stamped ribs and slightly different rib spacing was undertaken, and rag wings of this design were delivered in 1946. The aircraft was also later redesignedat to simplify construction of the fuselage into a modular construction.
Early in 1946, Luscombe decided to redesign the wing to an all-metal
monocoquedesign, eliminating the fabric covering and simplifying the construction. The company also produced a prototype of a single-place low-wing design called the Model 10. This was never placed into production, since the market for single-seat aircraft was considered to be too small.
The Model 8 was upgraded once again in June, producing the 8E. This aircraft had an 85 horsepower (63 kW) engine, and the fuselage tank was replaced by two 12.5 (US) gallon (47 L) wing tanks. This freed up space to install rear windows and a hat shelf in the space formerly occupied by the fuel tank. For a while, both all-metaland fabric-covered wing Luscombes were produced before the fabric-covered wing was phased out (use of old stock) in favor of the all-metal design.
In 1946, Luscombe also introduced the four-place model 11, designed to specifications produced by the
Flying Farmers of America. This was designed as a combined family/business aircraft, capable of carrying four people. With the back seat removed, up to six milk cans could be carried. Eventually, the Flying Farmer market proved to be a myth, so the model 11 Sedan was finished with a more plush interior to appeal to the businessman.Certification was accomplished in May of 1948.
Further design changes to simplify construction of the model 8
vertical stabilizerand horizontal stabilizer construction were implemented in 1947. These changes were alleged to save several hundred man hours in the construction of the airplanes.
The Air Force, in 1947, released a specification calling for an 85 hp (63 kW), high-wing tandem-seating aircraft to use as a liaison aircraft for Army ground forces. The proposal required an aircraft that was in current production, so Luscombe decided to convert a model 8E to a tandem configuration. This model passed the military tests, but lost out to the entry from
Aeronca, who quoted a low price of less than $1700 per aircraft. Luscombe obtained a type certificate for the T8F anyway, in anticipation of future off-the-shelf buys by the military. The later, modified specification excluded Luscombe with several changes to the procurement, and instead resulted in the Air Force's buying the Cessna L-19 Bird Dog.
The final simplification made to the Luscombe 8 design was the introduction in 1948 of the Silflex landing gear. This was a cantilever tubular-steel gear attached to a spring-oleo unit. It was four inches (102 mm) wider than the original wire-braced gear, simpler to manufacture, and stronger in side-load. It also reduced the incidence of ground-looping, and was less prone to damage when ground loops did occur. While the gear usually survived ground incidents, its strength often resulted in serious fuselage damage at the hard point attachments which was difficult to repair without jigging.
The last major upgrade to the Silvaire came in 1948. The Model 8F was introduced in January using a 90 hp (67 kW) Continental engine. The tandem aircraft was simultaneously upgraded to produce the T8F model. Sales were not strong, however, and the company was failing. In December, its major suppliers put Luscombe on a COD basis. More financial problems followed, and the company closed its doors in 1950.
After a bankruptcy, the assets were purchased by a major Luscombe dealer and a new venture opened in
Fort Collins, Coloradoas "Silvaire Aircraft and Uranium Corp". from 1958 to 1961, this firm produced some 83 aircraft labeled "Silvaire". Many of these aircraft were constructed from spares or MRB parts that were serviceable, but left from prior production.
Federal Aviation Administrationcertification auditresulted in the determination that continued production required a wholesale revision to the engineering drawings, specifications, and processes which had expired, run out of date, or been superseded. This was to be a comprehensive and very expensive process necessary to satisfy the FAA. The FAA required a new production management team of their choosing to oversee the project.
Senior management reviewed the findings and costs anticipated to prepare for future production of the aircraft in 1960. They determined that the limited market and the required changes necessary for production would not be economically feasible, so they closed the company and delivered the assets to a receiver who sold the production materials.
Several attempts to revive production have failed due to the high engineering and production costs involved, long lead times, missing drawings, old processes and tools, and a limited marketplace for an airplane that generally does not accommodate average sized persons (2006). None of the production revivals have succeeded. Although the aircraft has a passionate following, it is eclectic, and many more marketable and cost effective product options now exist which render the successful revival of this 60-year-old antique design unlikely.
In 1994, the Don Luscombe Aviation History Foundation (DLAHF) acquired the Approved Type Certificate (ATC 694) for the Luscombe aircraft. This was in turn transferred to The Luscombe Endowment in 1999-2001.
Most parts, advice, and technical support for the 8 series Luscombe Aircraft remain available from The Luscombe Endowment and Classic Aero Support who may be contacted at 480-650-0883, or www.luscombe.org.
The model 11A was reworked into the model 11E by engineers at the
Luscombe Aircraft Corporation(later renamed to Quartz Mountain Aerospace after learning that the DLAHF had trademarked the Luscombe name). The 11E model features tri-gear landing and an convert|185|hp|abbr=on Continental. Quartz Mountain Aerospace has recently put the model 11E into production, in Altus, Oklahoma. QMA has 4 aircraft coming down the assembly line (as of March 4, 2007), with the first production plane scheduled to be finished in April 2007. QMA has stated that they hope to reach a production goal of 250 planes per year by 2009.
pecifications: Model 11 (Sedan)
switch order of units?=no
include 'capacity' field?=yes
plane or copter?=plane
jet or prop?=prop
include 'armament' field?=no
length main=23 ft 6 in
length alt=7.2 m
span main=38 ft 0 in
span alt=11.6 m
height main=6 ft 10 in
height alt=2.1 m
area main=165 ft²
area alt=15.33 m²
empty weight main=1280 lb
empty weight alt=581 kg
loaded weight main=
loaded weight alt=
useful load main=1000 lb
useful load alt=454 kg
max takeoff weight main=2280 lb
max takeoff weight alt=1035 kg
type of jet=
number of jets=
engine (prop)=Continental E-165-2
type of prop=
number of props=1
power main=165 hp @ 2050 RPM
power alt=123 kW
max speed main=122 kt
max speed alt=140 mph, 225 km/h
cruise speed main=113 knots
cruise speed alt=130 mph, 209 km/h
never exceed speed main=157 knots
never exceed speed alt=180 mph, 290 km/h
stall speed main=48 knots
stall speed alt=55 mph, 89 km/h
range main=500 nm
range alt=576 mi, 926 km
ceiling main=17,000 ft
ceiling alt=5182 m
climb rate main=900 ft/min
climb rate alt=4.6 m/s
loading main=13.82 lb/ft²
loading alt=67.52 kg/m²
power/mass main=13.82 lb/hp
power/mass alt=18.54 kg/kW
* cite book
Blue Ridge Summit, Pennsylvania
* cite book
title=The Luscombe Story
Terre Haute, Indiana
* cite book
title=Visions of Luscombe - The Early Years
Terre Haute, Indiana
* cite book
title=Luscombe's Golden Age
publisher=Wind Canyon Books
* [http://www.luscombe.org/ The Luscombe Endowment]
* [http://www.luscombesilvaire.info/ Classic Aero Support]
* [http://www.luscombe-cla.org/ Continental Luscombe Association]
* [http://www.luscombeassoc.org/ Luscombe Association]
* [http://renaissanceaircraft.com/ Renaissance Aircraft LLC]
* [http://www.luscombeheritage.org/ Team Luscombe]
* [http://www.qmaero.com/ Quartz Mountain Aerospace]
Cheston Lee Eshelman
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