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A history of the Aeronca, Bellanca, American Champion Family of Aircraft

By Tom Beamer - tom@theairport.com

 

Page 1 - Aeronca Beginnings

Page 2 - Aeronca/Champion/Bellanca-Champion/American Champion Models

Page 3 - Early Aircraft Designations

Page 4 - The Citabria Era Designations

Page 5 - The 8 Series

Page 6 - And..

Page 7 - Structure (Fuselage and Wings)

 

        7AC, Champion, the base airframe, 35 wing span, no flaps, 13.1 gallon fuselage tank between the instrument panel and firewall, 65 hp Continental.

S7AC, seaplane 7AC

7ACA, Champion, 60 hp two cylinder Franklin, produced briefly in the early 1970s during the Bellanca-Champion period. The Franklin engine was built in Poland after the company (originally in Syracuse NY) was purchased by Petzel after bankruptcy.

Aeronca 7AC

        7BCM, Champion, 85 hp Continental, military L-16A with greenhouse glass

        7CCM, Champion, base airframe with additional of dorsal fin and one 5.5 gallon wing tank in addition to fuselage tank, fuel injected 90 hp Continental, military L-16B with greenhouse glass.

S7CCM, civilian seaplane

        7DC, Champion, 85 hp civilian version of 7CCM without greenhouse glass, also built in a Farm Wagon version with wood lined cargo bin.

S7DC, seaplane

        7EC, Traveler, Traveler Deluxe, 90 hp, electric system (earlier models may have had wind driven generators installed), early 7ECs had fuselage tank/wing tank, later aircraft had two wing tanks and no fuselage tank. This was much like current configuration but there are a number of different tank quantity/vent/feed line configurations used throughout the entire 7 series, and there are significant differences within the Citabria series from model-to-model, year-to-year.

7EC, the Champ, current production, 100 hp, single wing tank, LSA compliant, this is essentially a non-aerobatic, lighter weight, version of the 7ECA with a rounded tail.

S7EC, seaplane

        7FC, Tri-Traveler, 7EC with tri-cycle landing gear

Aeronca 7FC Tri-Traveler

        7GC, Sky-Trac, 140 hp (the first production use of a Lycoming in a 7 series), similar to 7EC with structural changes for larger engine and higher gross weight. Contrary to some published accounts this was not certified as a three place aircraft.

7GCA, 150 hp, the A denoted the original design intent that was to target the agricultural (crop dusting) market.

7GCB, Challenger, 150 hp, 7GCA fuselage with longer wings and flaps (first use in the 7 series), also aimed at the agricultural market, the first model approved for aerobatics.

7GCBA, 150 hp, a Restricted Category 7GCB for ag use.

 

Note that while the 7GCBA was certified in the Restricted Category many of the 7 series aircraft, going all the way back to the 7AC, would be operated in the Restricted Category as dusters or sprayers. Some ag conversions used a small hopper that simply replaced the rear seat, some were delivered (or modified) with a larger tank in the rear seat area and no rear windows, and some with an external belly tank, all would have been in the Restricted Category when configured for ag use. Often an aircraft would have two Airworthiness Certificates, Normal and Restricted, and use the one appropriate for the current configuration, ag one day, remove the spray tank and boom and fly charter the next. Difficult to believe with the current proliferation of jet charter but there was a time when 7ACs flew charter, Ive done it personally.

 

        7HC, DXer, 140 hp, similar to 7GC except tri-cycle gear, two place rear seat and a control wheel in front (no rear seat controls), this is the only three place 7 or 8 series aircraft, must have been cozy with two men in the rear seat. At least 40 built.

Aeronca 7HC, DXer

For historic perspective we must remember that Cessna was now producing modern all metal, tri-cycle geared 172s and 150s, Piper was building fabric covered Tri-Pacers and Colts. Champion was attempting to make an older design modern with the tri-cycle geared 7FC and 7HC, likewise the front seat control wheel in the 7HC was an effort to be more modern, and add utility with a two place rear seat in the 7HC.

        7JC, Tri-Con for tricycle-conventional gear, the 7JC had the third wheel under the baggage compartment. Yes it looked very strange..many were converted to 7EC. Given the angle I cant see any improvement to the existing excellent visibility and suspect ground handling would have deteriorated given the geometry, but it was one more attempt to make an elderly design modern. At least 26 built.

Aeronca 7JC Tri-Con

Aeronca 7JC Tri-Con

        7KC,Olympia, 150 hp, essentially a 7GCA with reduced wing span and front seat controls only, the first Champion use of a swept tail, and a port hole window for the rear seat.four built. Ive never been able to confirm the exact span but I suspect this is very close to a current 7GCAA.

Aeronca 7KC Olympia

Page 1 - Aeronca Beginnings

Page 2 - Aeronca/Champion/Bellanca-Champion/American Champion Models

Page 3 - Early Aircraft Designations

Page 4 - The Citabria Era Designations

Page 5 - The 8 Series

Page 6 - And..

Page 7 - Structure (Fuselage and Wings)

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