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Piper PA-24 Comanche

Civilian Market Utility Aircraft [ 1958 ]

The Piper PA-24 Comanche series proved exceedingly popular with private aviators and flight schools for its time.

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 08/15/2023 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site.

The Piper PA24 "Comanche" is a classic American single-engine, civilian-market utility monoplane aircraft of the Cold War period (1947-1991). The prototype (one of two being completed during development) first took to the air on May 24th, 1956 and entered operational service in 1958. Before the end, production (spanning from 1957 until 1972) would total 4,857 units and these would be operated globally by private owners, such was its popularity. The success of the series ultimately led to notable offshoots in the PA-30 "Twin Comanche", PA-39 "Twin Comanche", and the Ravin 500.

Internally, the Comanche cockpit seats two in a side-by-side arrangement and up to six total persons can be hauled depending on the seating configuration. Each front crewman has access to a control yoke with a flat steam-gauge instrument panel directly ahead. Throttle controls are seated between the two crewmen at the lower section of the panel.

Externally, the Comanche has a conventional airplane arrangement. The engine is housed in the short nose assembly driving a two-bladed propeller unit in puller / tractor fashion. The mainplanes are positioned at midships at the lower sides of the fuselage. Each member has noticeable dihedral which contributes to excellent low-and-slow flying characteristics. The fuselage tapers towards the empennage which is capped by a single vertical fin and low-set horizontal planes. The aircraft sports a retractable, wheeled tricycle undercarriage which gives it a pronounced "nose-up" attitude when on the ground.

The original production model (PA-24 / Comanche 180) flew with a Lycoming O-360-A1A engine of 180 horsepower in October of 1957 and was followed into the air by another form the following year mounting the Lycoming O-540-A1A5 engine of 250 horsepower. This subsequent offering made up the Comanche 250 variant (PA-24-250). Following these was the Comanche 260 which, of course, carried a 260 horsepower engine and appeared in 1965 across four sub-variants.

The PA-24-300 was given a 300 horsepower Lycoming but became a one-off testbed. The PA-24-380 followed in 1961 as a pair of prototypes and carried a Lycoming IO-720-A1A engine of 380 horsepower driving a three-bladed propeller unit. The Comanche 400 carried a 400 horsepower Lycoming IO-720 engine as the PA-24-400 and this also drove a three-bladed propeller unit.

The PA-33 was another one-off model and appeared in 1967. A pressurized cabin was part of the changes to the base design and power stemmed from a Lycoming O-540 engine of 260 horsepower. The single airframe was later lost to a crash in May of 1967.

The relkated PA-30 Twin Comanche twin-engine hauler is a major offshoot of the line, first-flying in November of 1962 and produced from 1961 until 1972 to the tube of 2,001 airframes. The PA-39 added another 155 aircraft to the mix.©MilitaryFactory.com
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Piper Aircraft - USA
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Inherent ability of airframe to take considerable damage.
Capability to travel considerable distances through onboard fuel stores.
Features partially- or wholly-enclosed crew workspaces.
Features retracting / retractable undercarriage to preserve aerodynamic efficiency.

25.0 ft
(7.62 meters)
36.0 ft
(10.97 meters)
7.5 ft
(2.29 meters)
1,775 lb
(805 kilograms)
Empty Weight
3,197 lb
(1,450 kilograms)
Maximum Take-Off Weight
+1,422 lb
(+645 kg)
Weight Difference
monoplane / low-mounted / straight
Mainplane Arrangement
Design utilizes a single primary wing mainplane; this represents the most popular modern mainplane arrangement.
Mainplanes are low-mounted along the sides of the fuselage.
The planform involves use of basic, straight mainplane members.

1 x Lycoming IO-540 6-cylinder air-cooled engine developing 260 horsepower driving two-bladed propeller unit at the nose.
196 mph
(315 kph | 170 knots)
Max Speed
186 mph
(300 kph | 162 knots)
Cruise Speed
+9 mph
(+15 kph | 8 knots)
Speed Difference
19,357 ft
(5,900 m | 4 miles)
1,224 miles
(1,970 km | 1,064 nm)
1,320 ft/min
(402 m/min)

MACH Regime (Sonic)
RANGES (MPH) Subsonic: <614mph | Transonic: 614-921 | Supersonic: 921-3836 | Hypersonic: 3836-7673 | Hi-Hypersonic: 7673-19180 | Reentry: >19030


PA-24 "Comanche" - Base Series Designation.
Comanche 180 (PA-24) - Original production model; Lycoming O-360-A1A engine of 180 horsepower.
Comanche 250 (PA-24-250) - Model of 1958; Lycoming O-540 engine of 250 horsepower.
Comanche 260 (PA-24-260) - Models of 1965-1972; total production reaching 1,029 airframes across sub-variants PA-24-260, PA-24-260B, PA-24-260C, and PA-24-260TC.
PA-24-300 - One-off development of 1967 with Lycoming 300 horsepower engine.
PA-24-380 - Pair of prototypes of 1961; Lycoming IO-720-A1A engine of 380 horsepower.
Comanche 400 - Lycoming IO-720 engine of 400 horsepower.
PA-30 "Twin Comanche" - Twin-engined development.
PA-33 - Model of 1967; one-off single-engine development with pressurized passenger cabin and Twin Comanche undercarriage; lost to crash in May 1967.

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Image of the Piper PA-24 Comanche
Image in the Public Domain via Wikipedia; User: Ahunt.

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