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Model 8 Silvaire
Luscombe 8 A
Luscombe 8 E
Luscombe L8 F
Luscombe 11 (sedan)
Luscombe 11 E 2004
Luscombe pilot report 150hp
pilot report Model 8

 


Luscombe aircraft history, performance and specifications

Thanks to Brian R. Baker 

1933: (Donald A) Luscombe Airplane Co, Kansas City MO. First plant was the old Butler Blackhawk facility. 1935: New plant at Mercer County Airport, West Trenton NJ. Firm also did aircraft maintenance and  operated the Luscombe School of Aeronautics, with students providing some of the production labour force. 1939: Don Luscombe edged out of company after public stock sales resulted in financial control being taken over by Leopold Klotz, who in turn was removed from management during WW2 because of his Austrian citizenship and the firm vested by the Alien Property Custodian Division of the Treasury Dept to manufacture components for Grumman Corp. 1944:

After receiving U S citizenship, Klotz resumed control of the firm to again became active in its management. Aug 1945; Luscombe Aircraft Corp, Garland TX. Production resumed with Models 8A, 8D, 8E, 8F, T8F, and 11A. Feb 1950: Bankruptcy, acquisition by TEMCO, Dallas TX. 1954: Acquired by Silvaire Aircraft & Uranium Corp (pres: Otis Massey), Ft Collins CO. 1964: ATC and tooling purchased by Moody Larsen, Bellville MI. 1985: Purchase of the ATC for 11-A was negotiated by an unrelated Luscombe Aircraft Corp, Carson City NV, but the deal fell through. c.1994: ATCs acquired by Don Luscombe Aviation History Foundation (DLHAF), Chandler AZ (pres: P Douglas Combs); the Foundation was providing parts, service, and rebuilt aircraft, and new production of the 8F by Renaissance Aircraft LLC had been started, with components to be produced by Zenair Ltd of Canada, the Czech Aircraft Works of the Czech Republic, and the DLHAF.

For some reason Luscombes suffered from their contact with the FAA's Civil Register. This was because people within the agency weren't familiar with the airplanes, and because mechanics and owners responsible for the paperwork didn't know what to call them, and FAA took the information given to it. The result was a series of designations, including serious errors, that only leads to confusion. This was carried over to other publications and caused identification problems for serious historians. Modified aircraft were sometimes listed as new types, and a few owners added their names to the manufacturer's,  adding to the confusion. Also, many aircraft listed as Model 8 were actually later models.

A basic identification problem becomes evident when dealing with modifications a model 8A  with a Continental C-85 replacing the A-65 is a model 8A (modified), not an 8E. It might look like an 8E and have the fuel tank, rear window modifications, and wing landing lights, but it simply is not an 8E. Therefore, obtaining an identification from the Civil Register does not automatically assure an accurate type identification.


Luscombe-4, aka 90 1938; 90hp Warner; span: 32'0" length: 20'11" load: 625# v: 130/115/45 range: 580; ff: 3/10/37 (p: Ignatius Sargent). Scaled-down Phantom, originally name Sprite, then 90, finally 4; Lyle Farver (fuselage), Bill Shepard (wings). $3,975; POP: 6 [X1017 (Sprite), NX1253, NC1325, NC1337, NC1344, NC22026]. The only survivor is currently under restoration in California [N1337].

Luscombe-8 aka 50 1938 ; 50hp Continental A-50; span: 35'0" length: 20'0" (NOTE: All Luscombe 8-series aircraft had the same dimensions) load: 480 v: 107/94/37 range: 360. Frank Johnson, Howard Jong (aka Young), Fred Knack. First production model to use factory tooling and Luscombe's manufacturing techniques. All-metal with fabric wing covering,  pressure cooled cowling, and ingenious design features for ease in maintenance and reparability, including breakaway landing gear struts to preserve centre section and sheet metal tip spars to protect the main extruded spars. Early models had tailskids and no brakes. Performance was adequate, but 65hp model later won the popularity. $1895; POP: 113; prototype [NX1304] built in 1937 as 50, but registered as 8. All 8-series were produced under (694).



Luscombe-8A 1939; 65hp Continental A-65-8F; load: 510#. Produced under (A-694) until 1948 with numerous changes, but all had A-65 engines; most had rear fuselage fuel tanks and few  frills. First production identical to 8 except for the A-65 engine.

The outbreak of WW2 curtailed production at 557 units, but manufacture resumed with the post-war 8A as the major  production model. Many changes were made to reduce production costs, notably introduction of a stamped-rib, fabric-covered wing in 1946  (Eugene W Norris, wing redesign), and a simplified all-metal wing later the same year, with stiffeners replacing the conventional rib structure and a single strut instead of the V-strut arrangement on fabric-winged aircraft. The squared-tail units first appeared early in 1947, along with a stronger cantilever Siflex landing gear. Whatever the wing, tail unit configuration, gear type, or fuel tank arrangement was, all A-65-powered aircraft were 8As with 1260# gross weight.

Toward the end of the production run, as the company experienced financial difficulties, many variations existed. POP: 3,695 included 3,138 built post-war; included 1 (c/n 1653) acquired by the Army in Panama after the outbreak of WW2 and designated UC-90A [42-79549]. Many 8As were modified by the installation of more powerful engines, additional wing tanks, and more advanced instrumentation. In fact, few exist in original configuration most were modified in some way over the years.

Some rebuilds even had different types of wings; original fabric wings became metal wings, while a few were even backdated from metal to fabric wings. Since the only new tail units being manufactured are the squared variety, many older types have the later tail units, and sometimes a combination of types. A few have been highly modified for aerobatic work, with shortened wing spans, etc. One with a 90hp Ken-Royce radial was called "Doncoupe" because of its resemblance to a Monocoupe. A few early homebuilts, as well, used Luscombe wings and other components.

8A Silvaire Master 1941 (694) = 65hp Continental A-65-8. The "Master" was developed to provide an illusion that Luscombe was producing military-contract training aircraft and so should continue receiving shipments of aircraft aluminium. The strategy worked, and Luscombe continued to receive aluminium until the outbreak of the war. POP: 1 prototype [NC37038]. Production models were to have the A-75 motor, and this  type was actually produced as 8D.

Luscombe-8B, 8B-2 1940; 65hp Lycoming 0-145. Essentially a Lycoming-powered 8A, it did not  sell well.  $1,785-1,885 in 1941; POP: 85, included 1 (c/n 1809) acquired by Army in Panama at the beginning of WW2 as UC-90 [42-79550]. Although listed in some publications, no Luscombe records of a model 8B-2 exist. Some 8Bs were converted to other models by engine changes.


Luscombe-8C 1940; 75hp Continental A-75-8J with fuel injection; load: 480# v: 118/107/40 range: 340. This upgraded 8A entered production in June 1940, and immediately became a best-seller, was first of the breed to be referred to as Silvaire. $2,795; POP: 278. Many were used by Civilian Pilot Training Program (CPTP) contractors for military student flight training.  Gross wt: 1200. Standard 14-gal rear fuselage tank, with provision for wing-mounted auxiliary tanks.


Luscombe-8D 1941; 75hp Continental A-75-8J; load: 530#. Developed for CPTP, essentially a production model 8A Master with 23.5-gal fuel capacity in two wing tanks, revised instrument panel. Gross wt: 1310#. POP: 97, included 11 in 1945 from the new Dallas plant.


Luscombe-8E 1946; 85hp Continental C-85-12F; load: 550# v: 122/114/43 range: 400. The original prototype was a fabric-wing aircraft with a C-85 engine with no starter or generator [NC71468]. [NC71645] became the first metal-wing 8E prototype. Designed to compete with Cessna 140, production units had 12.5- or 15-gal wing tanks, and most had full electrical systems. Additional modifications included rear windows and an open compartment,  commonly known as a "hat throw," located where the fuselage fuel tank had been. $2,995; POP: 834. Many 8Es were still flying in 1999, some highly modified.

XT8E 1947 = 85hp C-85-12. POP: 3 prototypes for 1947 Army liaison competition; first was [NX2788K]. Army requirements stated that the aircraft had to either be in current production or hold a current type certificate XT8E did not qualify on either  count with only 10% non-8E components. Changes included a new forward fuselage  with tandem seating arrangement, large windows, a bubble-type rear window, and a  door on the right side only. Although the plane completed the test program  successfully, the contract was awarded to Aeronca's L-16A on the basis of its lower selling price. The type was subsequently developed into the T8F Observer.

Luscombe-8F 1948; 90hp Continental C-90-12F; load: 540# v: 128/120/45 range: 490. Upgraded 8E with motor, full electrical, and cantilever Siflex landing gear. Fuel capacity was 25 gallons, in two 12.5-gal wing tanks, although some aircraft were delivered with two 15-gal wing tanks. This was the ultimate Model 8 Silvaire produced, produced in several versions differing mainly in cosmetic items, such as paint trim. When Luscombe went bankrupt in 1948, its assets were acquired by TEMCO, who produced a number of 8Fs in 1950-51. Production ceased in 1951 due to TEMCO's military contract commitments. POP: 379 from 1948-51.


T8F Observer 1948; 90hp C-90-12F; load: 530#. Developed from XT8E, T8F was marketed as a pipeline patrol aircraft. The airframe was virtually identical to the
XT8 and used 90% of 8F components. Two versions were produced, a "Deluxe" model with full electrical, and a "Special" with no electrical. POP: 73. Contrary to some paint schemes seen at fly-ins, no T8F was ever operated by any military organization, and military-marked Observers are historically inaccurate.

T8F Crop Master 1949; 90hp C-90-12F; load: 528#. Production T8F with flaps and built-in spray equipment. Spray unit manufactured by Independent Cropdusters included two 30-gal, self-agitating chemical tanks inside the wings, two wind-driven rotary spray dispensers just below the single-spar wing struts, and oversize tires. POP: 35, of which most were later converted to standard T8F configuration.

T8F-L 1950; 90hp C-90 "injector-type" engine; load: 500#. POP: 2 prototypes modified from T8Fs (one was a sprayer) for 1949 Army liaison plane competition. Extensively modified with swing-out engine mounts, larger doors, rebuilt center sections, unfaired Siflex landing gear, toe-actuated hydraulic brakes, flaps, and dual controls (except for brakes). [N1829B] was flight tested at Wright Field in April 1949, and was one of three final contestants flown to Fort Bragg NC, where it lost out to Cessna  L-19A. The second prototype was a static test airframe not used in the competition.  Both aircraft were subsequently modified back to standard configuration and sold.

T8G-L - Ag sprayer planned for installation of Boeing 502-2 turboprop was never built.



Luscombe-8 Turbine 1999; 150hp Apex Turbine. This conversion project was first considered by Luscombe engineers at TEMCO in 1950, but it was not until 1999 that a flying 8E prototype was constructed by the DLAHF in Chandler AZ [N2638K]. The prototype appeared at local fly-ins, and performance was reported to be similar to that of the 150hp conversion.

Luscombe-9 1945 Although this model was a project, it is included for continuity. In June 1945,Luscombe  considered updating the 8 and re-designating the post-war production aircraft as Model 9. A proposal in July was submitted to CAA, whose view was that a change in the model number would require complete recertification, but that upgrades would be approved without recertification as long as the model number remained the same. The project was dropped, and Model 9 enjoyed only a three-week lifespan.



Luscombe-10 1945; 65hp Continental A-65-8F; span: 25' length: 17'9"

Model 10, an attempt to build the fastest aircraft of its class, was essentially built up from parts -- there was no engineering or structural analysis done. Designed by Mischa Kantor, the fuselage centre section was hand-built, while the tail unit, engine, and cantilever wing were modified from 8A components. The first test flight by Bob Burns almost ended in disaster when the main landing gear threatened to fail. After some redesign, Burns successfully  flew the airplane once in Jan 1946, commenting that it was a very good airplane and needed no changes. Subsequent analysis indicated that there would be no market for the type, and development was dropped. John Swick, in The Luscombe Story, claims the prototype was later destroyed in a windstorm, while DLHAF reports that the aircraft and all data were destroyed for tax purposes.


Luscombe-11A Silvaire Sedan, 11C 1946; 165hp Continental E-165; span: 38'0: length: 23'6" load: 1000# range: 500; ff (as prototype X11): 11/8/46. Prototype later modified, flaps added as 11A; lost when aft-loaded c/g produced a flat spin, and test pilots bailed out. Certificated by restricting upward travel of elevator, which also made three-point landings impossible. Design intent was to compete with Cessna 170, and appeal to "flying farmers," but never competed successfully. Production ended with bankruptcy of the firm in 1948. A development of the aircraft as 11C featured a revised fuselage, but this remained only a project. In later years, some had larger engines installed. $6995; POP 91.

11E Spartan 1999 ; 185hp Teledyne-Continental IO-360-ES; span: 38'6" length: 23'9" load: 930#  v: x/130/x range: 530. Essentially a refinement of 11A with tricycle gear, modified fuselage, and other changes intended to modernize the basic design. $138,000; POP: 1 prototype [N747BM], demonstrated around the country, and production is expected to begin at the firm's Altus plant. A higher-powered variant with a 210hp IO-360-25 is presently projected.

50 1937 = Prototype 8 design began as 40hp lightplane project by Luscombe School of Aeronautics students. POP: 1 [NX1304]; ff: 12/17/37 (p: Tom Foley). Numerous detail differences with later 8 series originally had early type cowling, wheel control, rounded wingtips, tailskid, no brakes. Continental A-50 loaned by the manufacturer.


C-90 (UC-90) SEE 8A, 8B.



Gullwing aka Weatherly-Campbell Colt, Wiggins Colt 460 1941; 190hp Lycoming; span: 36'3" length: 23'10" load: 1200# v: 160/140/52. Designed and built by Don Luscombe and Fred Knack after Luscombe left his company and completed just prior to WW2 said to be Don Luscombe's final design. In 1946 Luscombe sold the prototype [NX54082] with all engineering data to Weatherly-Campbell of Dallas, who completed and flew the aircraft, renaming it Colt. Entered in 1948 Army competition for a liaison aircraft, it lost out to Ryan Navion. In 1958 the plane was sold to W K Foss (Schenectady NY), who intended to manufacture the type, engaging Spibec Corp (Philadelphia PA) for its production, but nothing was done. In 1964 Spibec sold the design to Swallow Aircraft Corp of Covina CA, who planned to build it  as Swallow 460. In the late 1970s the plane was sold to an individual who re-licensed it an  experimental home-built, and as such it attended a number of fly-ins before finally ground-looping. Recently the remains were bought by Luscombe historian Jim Zazos for restoration. It is currently listed in the Civil Register as the Wiggins Colt 460.



Phantom 1934 ; 145hp Warner Super Scarab; span: 31'0" length: 21'6" (prototype 10'10")  load: 630# (>650#) v: 168/142/45 range 560 ceiling: 19,000'; ff: 5/?/34 (p: Don Joseph or Bart Stevenson). Ivan Driggs, Don Luscombe. All-metal, high-performance lightplane based loosely on Monocoupe D-145 concepts developed by Don Luscombe. First Luscombe aircraft produced. $6,000; POP: 25. Prototype [NC272Y] originally had 125hp Warner, [NC275Y/278Y,  NC1007/1010, NC1025, NC1028, NC1043, NC1048, NC1234/1235, NC1249, NC1265, NC1278, NC1286, NC1323, NC25234, NC28779, NC30449, HBEXE]. (2-528) superseded by (552). Extremely poor ground handling characteristics led to most ground-looping and being rebuilt. Several Phantoms currently exist, and the original prototype has been operated by the DLHAF for a number of years after extensive restoration.

Silvaire-Luscombe 8F aka TEMCO Luscombe 8F 1956; 90hp Continental C-90-12F. Source of many Luscombe identification problems in the Civil Register, the "Silvaire" Luscombe resulted from the acquisition of Luscombe-TEMCO assets by the Silvaire Uranium & Aircraft Co, organized to continue production of the type. First prototype [N9900C] flew on 9/6/56, and  production continued until 1960, when the firm ended production with its 80th aircraft. All Fort Collins aircraft featured the "square" tail units developed for late production Luscombes and many, but not all, were equipped with flaps actuated by a handle near the roof of the cabin. Wheel pants were standard, but some operators removed them when it made inspection of the wheels and brakes difficult. At least one 8F was modified at the factory  with installation of a 150hp Lycoming for showing to dealers during 1959-60. In 1999, DLHAF licensed production of the 8F to the firm of Renaissance LLC, and Moody Larsen, previous  owner of Luscombe type and production certificates, is at age 90 presently involved in the construction of the first actual prototype at his facility near Belleville MI. A "prototype" of this aircraft appeared at various fly-ins during 1999, but was actually one of the early Fort Collins production airplanes.

Silvaire-Luscombe 8G 1959 = 2pChwM. Non-flying, tricycle-gear prototype constructed at Fort Collins. A flying prototype was nearing completion when the company ceased production in 1960. However, DLAHF sources claim that four uncertified examples were constructed.