The Cessna 172 was a development of the 170B. The 170, developed from the Model 120/140 and featuring 4 seat Accommodation, first flew in September 1947. The aircraft was aimed at US operators of the 120 and 140, looking for a bigger 4 seat aircraft. Production of the 170 commenced in March 1948. Development continued through the 170A (introduced in 1949) and the 170B (introduced in 1952) which featured a modified engine, larger and slotted fowler type flaps (originally designed for the model 305), and various other refinements. The prototype Model 172 which first flew in 1955, was essentially a 170B featuring tricycle undercarriage, a squared off tail profile, and various small improvements. Although slightly slower than the model 170, the 172 proved popular and 1,170 model 172's were produced in 1956 compared with only 174 model 170B's. The Model 172 replaced the 170 in production after that year.
The Model 172A appeared in 1960, introducing a more 'swept' line to the tail surfaces. From that point the model letters were incremented each year, and reflected minor changes. In 1963 the next major change was the introduction of a slimmer rear fuselage, and the 'omnivision' wrap around window configuration. Subsequent changes have mainly involved adjustments to the basic airframe around the windows, wheel spats, wingtips, spinner, and cowlings; and refinements such as electric flaps and trims. In addition to the standard model 172, a deluxe version known as the Skyhawk was produced. In 1963 with the change to the fuselage shape, this became the Skyhawk II and as well as the interior detail featured a more comprehensive equipment fit. The 172 was also license built by Reims Aviation in France. More than 35,000 model 172's had been built when production ceased in the mid-1980's. Production resumed again in 1996.
A military version of the 172 was produced when the USAF chose to order 170 of the aircraft in July 1964. Equiped with the 180hp Continental O-360, this became the T-41 Mescalero. In August 1966, the US Army also ordered a version with the 210hp IO-360D, which is known as the T-41B. The USAF again ordered the R172E for use at its academy as the T-41C. The T-41D was supplied to various Air Forces under the MAP scheme. Total T-41 production was 259 T-41A, 255 T-41B, 52 T-41C, and 226 T-41D between 1963 and 1983. Various Air Forces have also acquired standard model 172's.
Development of the basic 172 airframe has been extended to through the uprated Model 175 and Skylark (produced between 1959 and 1963), the Hawk XP, the Cutlass, and the Cutlass RG and RG II which introduced a retractable undercarriage.
Popular with Aero Clubs, and private operators, New Zealand has had a large number of model 172 and its variants appear on the civil register. Of the original model, 8 were imported and 6 survive. From the A/B/C model, 16 were imported and 8 A's, 6 B's and a C are still on the active register (as at July 1, 2001). Despite a variety of mishaps, more than 220 of the type (including new production aircraft imported since 1996) currently appear on the New Zealand Register.
Last Text Update:- 29 July, 2001
Last Picture Update:- 30 March, 2003
© 1999-2003 Phillip Treweek, all rights reserved