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Sometimes an article is copied out of necessity or for clandestine purposes - the German ‘Gerät Potsdam’, a wartime copy of the British Mk II Sten gun, is an example of this, as was the Tupolev Tu-4 (NATO reporting name ‘Bull’), a Soviet reverse-engineered Boeing B-29 Superfortress. The Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. HAL-26 Pushpak could be said to be in the same class of objects.

The Aeronautical Corporation of America (known as Aeronca), had been turning out light ‘planes since the 1930s. After the Second World War they produced a series of two-seat, high-wing monoplanes suitable for private use, or as ‘club aircraft’. These included a development of the Chief design, which was known as the Model 11CC Super Chief; this model had an upgraded interior, toe-brakes for the pilot, and balanced elevators. Powered by the ever-reliable Continental Motors Corporation C90-8F of 90 hp, the prototype first flew in 1948, and was quite successful. However, Aeronca withdrew from light aircraft production in 1951. The type certificate for the Aeronca 11CC Super Chief was sold to Mr. E. J. Trytek, of Syracuse, New York, but he undertook no production.

In the early 1950s, an Aeronca 11CC was being used by an Indian flying club, when it was seriously damaged. It is said that a new student pilot misunderstood an instruction whilst taxying, turned sharply onto an exit road from the airfield and neatly removed the wings of the Aeronca by taking it between a set of granite gateposts that were just NOT quite wide enough. The story goes on to say that the prospective pilot ran off up the road and was never seen again!

The remains of the aircraft languished in a hangar for a while, and then an interest was taken in them by the Hindustan Aeronautics Corporation, who had already undertaken major servicing of USAAF Catalinas and other types during WW2, and had designed and flown the HT-2 trainer (which closely resembled the DHC-1 Chipmunk) in 1951. Depending on who you listen to, either E. J. Trytek sold a licence to HAL to produce the Aeronca 11CC Super Chief, or the aircraft was reverse-engineered from the remains of the wrecked example, by reducing it to its component parts and producing exact copies of each casting, nut and bolt. That particular course of action is given credence by the fact that if you look at the Pushpak's rudder pedals, you will find that wear marks, caused by heavy usage, have been accurately reproduced in the 'new' castings! However, the ‘company line’ from HAL is somewhat different. In front of a preserved example (wearing Indian national markings, but no serial) of the resulting HAL-26 ‘Pushpak’, which is exhibited in the Indoor Display Hall of the HAL Aerospace Museum & Visitor Center, Bangalore, is a label which claims that the aircraft was ‘indigenously designed’. Suffice it to say that the Pushpak – other than a few slight differences in rudder profile and a Russian-made cockpit clock, IS a Super Chief! 154 of these capable trainers were manufactured from 1958 – 1968, and used by flying clubs across India. From the early 1980s, the HAL-26 fleet began to be retired; several were disposed of abroad, and two examples (G-AVPO, G-BXTO) reached Great Britain.

Here we see Pushpak G-BXTO, (c/n PK-128) having just landed at Keevil Airfield during a fly-in - note the difficult local weather conditions, which made G-BXTO the ONLY arrival on the first day of the event! Its original Indian identity was VT-DWM, and after that it was on the Singapore civil register for a time, as 9V-BAI. The aircraft appears regularly at fly-ins and other events around the UK. It is now owned by Peter Quinn of Chippenham, Wiltshire, and looks quite splendid in its blue and yellow colour scheme. Whatever the true circumstances surrounding its ‘birth’, the Pushpak makes for a delightful example of the art of reverse-engineering!

Originally posted to Kossack Air Force on Thu Jan 17, 2013 at 04:00 PM PST.

Also republished by History for Kossacks.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I never thought Aeroncas were as pretty (14+ / 0-)

    as the airplanes Piper built.  The J-3 is much more stylish looking than the pot-bellied Champ.

    One thing about these 1930s design airplanes, especially the Aeronca design.  Approach to landing turns MUST be kept coordinated and airspeed up.  I wonder if somebody has kept stats on how many pilots have been killed when they stalled and spun in on the turn from base to final.  

    One of the first things I learned was the wingtip inside the turn was going a lot slower than the outside wingtip and slower than the airspeed indicator showed.  They give little warning before a tip stall and the instinct is to pull back on the stick when the nose drops.  

    Send donations to the Air Safety Foundation in lieu of flowers.

    The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand. - Sun Tzu

    by Otteray Scribe on Thu Jan 17, 2013 at 04:09:41 PM PST

    •  Tricky little beast.. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Otteray Scribe, KenBee

      ...and yet there are quite a few Champs in the UK.

      The Auster family (many of them with their roots in Clarence Taylor's classic design do not seem to suffer quite as badly near the stall - if you can find it, as it happens at around 30mph! There does seem to be a problem with the ailerons (not enough area, methinks), so if you make a hefty climbing turn to port, the little beast continues to roll that way, and you eventually straighten up with the stick stuffed into 'top right hand corner', so to speak! Other than a tendency to float forever, they are VERY sweet.

      'Per Ardua Ad Astra'

      by shortfinals on Thu Jan 17, 2013 at 06:12:39 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I have never seen an airplane that wanted to float (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        shortfinals, KenBee

        as much as a Taylorcraft.  I don't recall what the wing loading is, but it is a light airplane with a vast wing.  Try to land an L-4 on a hot day with little thermals coming up from the runway and there is a chance you will run out of runway before you can plunk it down.  At least on a glider you have spoilers and dive brakes to kill lift.

        The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand. - Sun Tzu

        by Otteray Scribe on Thu Jan 17, 2013 at 08:22:44 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  While in the ATC (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Otteray Scribe, shortfinals

          I did some glider training in the Kirby Mk 3.  Open cockpit, no flaps or spoilers.  On my first solo, I rounded out over  the grass, only to have the glider proceed in ground effect for about half a mile before settling to the ground.  Not quite as bad as the other guy from my squadron, who tried to land the glider 30 feet above the runway.  With an open cockpit you could hear the instructor bellowing at the poor lad as he sailed by.

          In all of the world's problems religion has never been the solution

          by Tailgunner30uk on Fri Jan 18, 2013 at 12:39:25 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I have a great shot of the one used by... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Otteray Scribe

            ...Prince Andrew, when he did his glider training. It will be the subject of a diary, of course!

            'Per Ardua Ad Astra'

            by shortfinals on Fri Jan 18, 2013 at 04:01:42 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  The words are burnt into my heart. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              shortfinals, Otteray Scribe

              Probably due to both the fascinated fear, like watching a train wreck, and the fact that those of us on the ground nearly wet ourselves laughing..

              The gentleman in question completed his turn onto the base leg of his circuit far too high, then turned onto finals to line up with the runway at about 50-60 feet, and levelled out.  The glider approached stalling speed and started to buck.  From the rear cockpit the instructor could be heard shouting "Put the nose down...  Private * put the nose down." Then somewhat more insistently "Put the F*$%#&G nose down...  I have control!!" being barely 16 years old I was shocked, I tell you, at the language, after all anyone could have heard.  The glider then swooped gracefully into land.  To this day there haven't been many times when I have laughed harder.

              In all of the world's problems religion has never been the solution

              by Tailgunner30uk on Fri Jan 18, 2013 at 04:44:02 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

  •  Landing a Champ on a windy day. (9+ / 0-)

    Notice the high tech instrument panel.  Also notice the rate of gum chewing by the pilot varies by how busy he is trying to keep the clean side up and the greasy side down.  Then gets a little out of shape as he starts to flare and has to goose it just a bit.  

    The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand. - Sun Tzu

    by Otteray Scribe on Thu Jan 17, 2013 at 04:34:54 PM PST

  •  You did not include a poll (8+ / 0-)

    so let me do a little survey.  How many of our readers have ever had to use the Armstrong Starter?  I learned to do this while I was still in Jr. High (I was a big kid).  

    For the uninitiated, the purpose of the leg swing is to pull the prop down as the momentum of your leg pulls you away from the prop.  That thing can remove body parts faster than a chainsaw.

    The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand. - Sun Tzu

    by Otteray Scribe on Thu Jan 17, 2013 at 04:40:57 PM PST

  •  Imitation is the sincerest form of... (6+ / 0-)

    intellectual property theft?

    I think one of the things this tale shows is that while Aeronca may have faded from light aircraft production in the U.S. there was still a place where their products were viable. Makes you wonder what other aircraft might have had extended careers "if only..."

    The other side of that coin is, of course, the numbers of aircraft designs that almost made it - but not quite!  

    I will admit to a certain affection for the Cessna Skymaster. (AKA Mixmaster?) The design was never as popular as Cessna hoped, but a number of pilots still like them. The military version saw combat - how many civilian designs manage that?

    "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

    by xaxnar on Thu Jan 17, 2013 at 04:46:32 PM PST

  •  Painted like my old cub scout neckerchief. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shortfinals, Otteray Scribe, KenBee

    ( They sadly wouldn't allow us to add wings to our Pinewood Derby cars.)

    Father Time remains undefeated.

    by jwinIL14 on Thu Jan 17, 2013 at 06:17:06 PM PST

  •  Any interest in the Super Tweet? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Otteray Scribe, shortfinals, KenBee

    Cessna 318/T37/A37 family

  •  Several Old Expressions (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Otteray Scribe, shortfinals

    seem to Fit the HAL-26.

    "Imitation is the Most Sincere form of Flattery".

    and "If it Ain't Broke, Don't Fix it".

    That little Bit about the Wear marks on the Rudder
    pedals is Absolutely Priceless.

    I have absolutely No reason to doubt that Story, Having
    done the same thing on Numerous occasions.

    Thanks for another Interesting Diary.

    On Giving Advice: Smart People Don't Need It and Stupid People Don't Listen

    by Brian76239 on Thu Jan 17, 2013 at 07:56:01 PM PST

    •  Since I was one of the guys working that... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      particular event, and had a chance to examine the beast myself.....yes, the scuff marks were copied!

      Here is a shot of the Pushpak in the HAL Museum at Bangalore, AND the offending museum 'label' !


      'Per Ardua Ad Astra'

      by shortfinals on Thu Jan 17, 2013 at 08:32:49 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks SF and OS (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Neat story.  Not uncommon though, lots of companies try to copy successful products as closely as patent law will allow...  Keep the lawyers employed...

    “that our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, any more than our opinions in physics or geometry.” Thomas Jefferson

    by markdd on Fri Jan 18, 2013 at 07:45:46 AM PST

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