Piper PA-18-150 Super Cub, G-XCUB – the aircraft that will not quit
Tags: 0-360 engine, 150 hp, 95 hp, aircraft, AISI, AISI 4130, aluminium ribs and spars, Aviation, built 1981, C-90-8F, c/n 18-8109036, Carbon Cub EX, ceased production in 1994, Chromoly, Continental Motors Corporation, Cub Crafters Inc., electrical system, England, Europe, extended landing gear, external baggage pod, fabric-covered, fuselage, G-XCUB, Great Britain, improved wing tips, Lycoming O-320, N93487, NATO, O-320-A2B, PA-18, Piper Aircraft Corporation, Piper Cherokee, Piper Super Cub, Popham, Redhill, Sensenich, Sport Cub S2, steel tube, Sywell, Taylor E-2 Cub, tundra tires, USA, warbird, Washington State, William Piper, WW2, Yakima, Yakima Aerospace
The Piper Aircraft Corporation has a way of not changing a winner; they have expanded their product line of course, but a pilot from say, 1935, if confronted suddenly with G-XCUB (assuming that the registration letters were painted out!) would have no problem in identifying this aircraft as a member of the Piper Cub family, even though this aircraft was built in 1981 ! It wasn’t that the civil variants of the Cub family were almost invariably painted yellow (shades of Henry Ford and the black Model T), it is just that this PA-18-150 Super Cub has remained recognizable as a descendant of the Taylor E-2 Cub and the wartime Piper J3.
The Piper Super Cub fuselage is constructed from welded AISI 4130 chromoly steel tubing covered with fabric, as are the wings, which have aluminium alloy spars and ribs. The original Super Cub had a 95 hp Continental Motors Corporation C-90-8F, but from 1954 onwards a bigger Lycoming O-320 producing 150 hp was fitted, similar to that on the Piper Cherokee. G-XCUB has a Lycoming O-320-A2B driving a Sensenich 74DM6-O-56 propeller (many Super Cubs owners who use their aircraft in wilderness or tundra situations have high performance ‘climb’ propellers fitted). The aircraft is recognized as a joy to fly, with light, harmonized controls. G-XCUB (c/n 18-8109036) was first put on the U.S. Register as N93487, then exported to the U.K.; after a couple of owners, she is now in the capable hands of Martin Barraclough of Hampshire, and as been seen on many U.K. airfields, including Sywell, Popham and Redhill. G-XCUB had only accumulated 1,500 total hours by December, 2010.
Post-war the U.S. Military and many of the NATO nations (such as the Netherlands), ordered almost 1,700 Super Cubs in various designations, and some of these have found their way onto the civil market; an electrical system, two wing tanks, and three-position flaps, giving a 300 ft take-off run (if necessary) made them very attractive. Piper ceased production of the Super Cub in 1991, then resumed it at a low rate until it finally declared the aircraft ‘dead’ in 1994. This did not stop the demand for Cubs from bush pilots in Alaska, to flying missionaries in Africa, however. Cub Crafters Inc. of Yakima, Washington began re-building Super Cubs in 1980, and you can now purchase a new ‘Cub’ from them in various forms, including their Carbon Cub (a lightweight, at only 1,320lb) and several versions which can be built by ‘homebuilders’ including the Sport Cub S2. Yakima Aerosport, which is located close to Cub Crafters in Yakima, is also in the same line of work.
Bush pilots, who fly hunters and fishermen into remote areas, often specify a wide range of upgrades; these can include a bigger Lycoming engine, the O-360 of 180 hp, extended landing gear, under-fuselage cargo pod, aerodynamically improved wingtips and large ‘tundra’ tires. One way or another, the Super Cub is going to be with us for a long, long time.