Piper's Pa-12 Super Cruiser- upgraded and redesigned Piper J-5

By Willie Bodenstein

The Super Cruiser is an upgraded Piper J-5 re-designated as the PA-12 when Piper dropped the J- designation system. The PA-12 Super Cruiser had its first flight on 29 October 1945 and the first production model left the factory floor on 22 November 1945.

Unlike the J-3 Cub the PA-12 is flown solo from the front seat whilst side by side seating can accommodate two passengers behind the pilot. The Super Cruiser was initially powered by a fully cowled 108 hp (81 kW) Lycoming O-235-C engine. However, buyers had an option to choose the Lycoming O-235-C1 engine rated at 115 hp (86 kW).

The PA-12S was type certified on 11 August 1948, with 1,838 lb (834 kg) gross weight. The Seaplane variant was fitted with the 135 hp (101 kW) Lycoming O-290-D2 engine to improve take-off performance.

In 1947, two PA-12s named City of Washington and City of Angels flew around the world and the worst mechanical failure they suffered was a cracked tailwheel. The City of Washington currently is on display at the Boeing Aviation Hangar, part of the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Centre whilst the City of Angels is on display at the Piper Aviation Museum.

PA-12s have been exported to a number of countries including Belgium, Canada, France, Ireland, Netherlands, Switzerland and the United Kingdom and South Africa where they were marketed by then Wonderboom based Placo. A number PA-12s are still flown by private pilot owners in South Africa. The two used in this report belongs to brothers Johnnie and Corrie Smith of Frankfort in the Free State. and the type is commonly seen in North America. In November 2009 there were still 1688 registered in the USA and 229 in Canada.

Approved for wheels, skis, floats and also for crop spraying many PA-12s have been modified with larger engines, wing flaps and a metal-skin fuselage. Testimony of the durability of the PA-12s design is the fact that of the 3760 built by the time production ceased in March 1948 almost 2,000 are still registered in the USA and Canada with numerous other flying worldwide.

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