Ercoupe

Ercoupe"My favorite Classic Light Airplane"

During the middle thirties an effort was on at the NACA Laboratories at Langley Field to design an easy-to-fly civil aircraft that was incapable of stalling or spinning.The Engineering and Research Corporation had been founded in Riverdale, Maryland, under the direction of Henry A. Berliner, President, and Fred E. Weick, Chief Designer;produced two experimental aircraft, the W-l and W-1A. These two aircraft exhibited the easy-to-handle characteristics the NACA had hoped for, and they were further modified in 1940 to become the Ercoupe Model 415C. This was a two-place, low-wing aircraft of monocoque construction with twin rudders, and this first aircraft was all metal except for the outer sections of the wing which were fabric-covered. It was powered by a 65 hp. Continental A-65 engine, providing a cruising speed of 105 mph. Good visibility on the ground and in the air was, by design, one of its finest qualities. The Ercoupe was the first Cival aircraft produces with an unconventional Tricycle land gear:

Tricycle landing gear for safe,, easy landings under a wide variety of conditions (wind, airspeed at contact, angle of plane). The linking of the nose wheel with the control wheel made taxiing on the ground much safer.

Through the use of limited upward elevator travel and proper wing filleting, the aircraft simply would not stall or spin.(it will kind of fall like a leaf though

A two-control system, pitch and roll, which eliminated the need for rudder pedals and simplified the handling of the aircraft.

The first Ercoupe was labeled "an unconventional aircraft with either two or three controls" on its aircraft airworthiness authorization cards, and was equipped with rudder pedals which "must be removed when operated as a two-control aircraft."

The ailerons, rudder and nose were coordinated with the control wheel,eliminating the need of learning a three-controlsystem.Because of the lack of rudder pedals and it's ease to fly many pilots of that time and even today do not consider the Ercoupe as a real airplane and even goes as far as thinking that anyone who owns one is a sissy.

Even though the Ercoupe did not have rudder pedals it could still land in a 25 knot cross wind,this is do to it's trailing castor type main landing gear.The nose wheel will caster and straighten it out.The Ercoupe's main gear does not swivel, a common misconception, but the geometry of the airplane causes the airplane to turn in the direction of forward motion. If you fight this tendency you can ground loop.

During the 1950's Boeing 707 pilots trained in Ercoupes to learn how to land in a cross wind with-out dipping a wing,(you would drag an engine on the ground in a 707 if you did).

The Ercoupes engine was canted down and the elevator had limited-up travel to keep it from stalling. The engine also was canted to the right a little to compensate for torque.

The Ercoupe was the first tricycle aircraft and The first JATO (Jet Assisted Take Off) was made by an Ercoupe, which test led to the foundation of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

The wings used an NACA 43013 airfoil (4,30,13). 13 percent thick, 30 foot long span but the chord is 5 feet, 142.6 square feet. Ailerons cover 20 percent of the chord, 16.8 square feet. The cantilever wing in 2 panels of constant-chord is an all-metal D-type mono-spar construction with diagonal wing ribs; the completed framework is covered fabric. The constant-chord platform has favorable stall characteristics and aileron control will last longer. Differential ailerons are used to eliminate adverse yaw. The airfoil used has excellent stall characteristics, but a high sink rate, this makes the coupe a poor glider.

The Ercoupe is a very fun airplane to fly. Slide open the windows on a hot summer day and you have open cockpit fun. I personally think the Ercoupe was one of the finest airplanes ever designed.(I have this thing about airplanes with more than one vertical fin and rudder)

SPECIFICATIONS for and Ercoupe 415-C
Span: 30 ft. 0 in.
Length: 20 ft. 2in.
Height: 5 ft. 5in.
Gross Weight: 1175lbs.
Empty Weight: 716lbs.
Engine: 65 hp. Continental A-65 engine

PERFORMANCE
Max never exceed speed: 144 mph.
Cruising speed: 105 mph.
Range: 350 miles
Rate of Climb: 800 ft/min.
service ceiling 14000 ft.
Engine Limits2275 r.p.m.
Center of Gravity Range26.4" to 30.3"
Special Limitations"This airplane is characteristically incapable of spinning"
Manufactured by Engineering & Research Corporation, Riverdale,Maryland


Over the years the Ercoupe was manufactured by numerous companies:

Company Model Years Qty
ERCO/Sanders 415C-415H 1940-1941 112
1945-1952 5,028
Forney/Air Products F1, F1A 1956-1960 157
1960-1962 25
Alon A2 AirCoupe 1964-1967 245
Mooney A2A AirCoupe 1967-1968 21
A2A Cadet 1968 38
M10 Cadet 1969-1970 59
Total 5,685

In 1946 Santa arrived in Chicago in an Ercoupe,riding in the fourth plane of the jeep drawn parade(National Air and Space Museum)

On Aug. 12, 1941, the first Air Corps rocket-assist takeoff was made by a Wright Field test pilot, Capt. Homer Boushey, using a small civilian-type Ercoupe airplane. Subsequent refinements of this technique were made for assisting heavily-loaded airplanes in taking off from limited space. This technique is still used whenever needed.
Takeoff of Ercoupe airplane in much less than normal distance due to firing of rockets attached under its wing. For comparison, the light plane in the foreground although equipped with an engine of approximately the same horsepower as the Ercoupe, had just lifted off the ground at the instant the photo was taken.
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Written & Edited by Darrell Graves

1997 dgraves549@aol.com