Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, August 24, 2010

King Kong "Little" Cub

CubCrafters’ top LSA offers a big surprise when the throttle goes forward

I used to have a buddy in the drag-racing business who claimed that given enough horsepower, you could push a Peterbilt through the Mach in a quarter mile. That’s perhaps a little extreme, but there’s no question horsepower solves (and creates) a number of problems associated with motorcycles, cars, boats and airplanes. Back in the ‘60s and ‘70s, I watched Lyle Shelton build his surplus F8F Bearcat race plane Rare Bear in the hangar next to mine at Compton, Calif. There was no question that more power was high on the list of gotta-haves.

Lyle replaced the Bearcat’s P&W R-2800 engine with a huge Wright R-3350, and in combination with water injection, higher turbo boost and a number of other tricks, Lyle claimed the engine
was churning out well over 3,000 hp. I never found out if that was an actual dynamometer readout or just a dream, but he did have remarkable success with the airplane on the air-racing circuit—six national championships.

Such raw power may also be a key to Rare Bear’s world time-to-climb prop/piston record (91.9 seconds from sea level to 3,000 meters—9,843 feet) and its three-kilometer propeller speed record (529 mph).

The folks at CubCrafters in Yakima, Wash., don’t have any such grand plans for their Carbon Cub SS, but the airplane certainly is the most enthusiastic LSA you’re liable to encounter. Though CubCrafters’ Carbon Cub (previously known as the Super Sport Cub) is saddled with the same 1,320-pound gross weight limitation as on other LSAs, the airplane sports an impressive 180 hp, the most powerful engine in the class. The Carbon Cub’s engine is a new modified mill known as the CC340, developed by ECi of San Antonio, Texas, and CubCrafters, specifically for application to the Carbon Cub product.

The SS’s motive force is a variation on the famous Lycoming O-360 powerplant, with special emphasis on weight reduction.

Accordingly, the CC340 engine has an all-up weight of only 242 pounds. It features a lightweight CATO composite propeller, 40-amp alternator, a purpose-built ultralight starter and electronic ignition. The result is 35-50 pounds less weight on the nose compared to a standard O-360 Lycoming installed in a Piper Archer or in CubCrafters’ own Top Cub. Unlike the Lycoming 360, the CC340 develops its full 180 hp from only 340 cubic inches of displacement.

In addition to lighter weight forward of the firewall, the SS features remarkable weight reductions in other areas. In contrast to the Super Cub, the Carbon Cub contains 50% fewer parts, and the total airframe is 250 pounds lighter than its Piper predecessor. The fuselage is of 4130 aluminum, and the wing is the traditional Piper USA35B airfoil.

Labels: LSAsPiston Singles


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