Apache was Piper's first production
twin-engined, four-place executive airplane.
As such it was to become the forerunner of a
long line of Piper executive and charter
aircraft that extends to this day. With this
airplane, Piper left behind the
tube-and-fabric Cub for the modern all-metal
airplane. This particular Apache performed
commuter and charter service around the
eastern United States.
Piper purchased the assets of the Stinson
Division of Consolidated Vultee Aircraft
Corporation in 1948, one of the proposed
designs was the Twin Stinson that was to be
a modification of the popular Stinson 108
Voyager/Station-Wagon. In 1952 Piper decided
to build the Twin Stinson as a light
twin-engined executive airplane. The
experimental prototype, the Model 23-1, was
a four-place, steel tube-and-fabric,
low-wing airplane with a fixed tricycle
landing gear and a twin tail. It was powered
by two 125 hp Lycoming O-290D engines.
Flight tests in 1952 indicated that the
airplane was under-powered and had some
control response and vibration problems.
these difficulties resulted in the complete
redesign of the airplane, including
all-metal construction, a single vertical
fin, retractable landing gear, and 150 hp
Lycoming 0-320-A engines with constant speed
propellers. Completed in July 1953, it was
renamed the PA-23 Apache and was the first
of the Piper "Indians," when Piper began
naming its various aircraft after Indian
first production PA-23-4 Apache was
delivered early in 1954. Initially the
airplane was to have been sold for $25,000
but the actual price at the time of first
production was $32,500. This was still the
least expensive twin of that class. Much to
the surprise of many sceptics, sales began
to climb and Piper production capacity had
difficulty keeping up with the orders.
Apaches came in three versions, Standard,
Custom, and Super Custom and ultimately
2,204 Apaches were produced through 1958.
Piper upgraded the Apache in 1960 with 250
hp Lycoming engines, new flight
instrumentation, a swept vertical fin that
increased performance, and a new name, the
Aztec. Over 4,800 Aztecs were built. The
Apache and Aztec price and size allowed
smaller companies and executives to own or
operate business aircraft.