Although the term “General Aviation” does not have a strict definition, no one aircraft is more emblematic of the sector than the Cessna 172. Whilst many GA designs fill a niche, the 172 does a range of jobs, from basic training to medium range touring, remarkably well. More widely manufactured than any aircraft in history, over a total production life of 55 years some 44,000 have left the factories of Cessna and its licensed subsidiaries.
The Cessna 172 began as a tricycle undercarriage conversion of the Cessna 170. The airframe converted, N41678, was itself a prototype of an ultimately unproduced variant of the 170, the C – this sported squared off tail surfaces which, together with a nosewheel, became the principle distinguishing features of the original model Cessna 172. A 6 cylinder 145hp Continental O-300 engine completed the design. With highly benign taxiing and flying characteristics, the 172’s certification was uncomplicated and the new model became an instant sales success.
In 1963 the 172D debuted with a new, cut down fuselage and “omni-vision” rear window. This followed a similar evolution of the 182 the previous year, and the 150 would adopt the look a year later. The 172E and F brought incremental but invisible improvements. In 1966 the 172G arrived sporting a new cowl (but still an O-300 engine), the 172H featured a redesigned fin cap and new spats, and the 172I was externally similar but in fact was the first model to use the Lycoming O-320 – this is only apparent by the absence of a port side exhaust pipe.
The period of 172 manufacture from 1963 also saw 2 sub variants appear – the F172, manufactured by Rheims Aviation in France and mirroring almost exactly the US specs of the time, from 172D onwards; and the T-41A Mescalero, which was essentially a 2-seat 172F procured by the USAF as a flight-screening aircraft. Later Mescaleros deviated more substantially from civil 172 specs.
As can be seen, the changes of design details of the 172 through the model years are considerable. This kit, focussed on model years 1963-1968, is the second in a series of 3 which aims to take these changes into account allowing the modeller to replicate virtually any variant of the 172 built from 1956 to the present day.
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