On Friday 1 July 2022 the sound of a radial engine at Groton, Connecticut in the USA could be heard as a Curtis P-36 took to the sky. However, this was no ordinary P-36 but a 60% scale powered by a Verner Scarlett Radial 7U direct drive with electronic ignition and electric fuel injection 7-cylinder engine.
The plane is a prototype of a P-36 fighter that preceded the P-40 and the P-51 and was used in the early days of the World War II. ScaleBirds's plans with the P-36 LiteFighter is to offer affordable kits for radial- and inline-engine mini-fighters engineered as sport planes.
According to ScaleBirds the LiteFighter is designed with a high amount of fun in mind and is slated to be mildly aerobatic, with load limits in the range of +4.4/-3g depending on operating weight.
Equipped with the Chez built Verner 7U engine seven-cylinder, 120 hp radial engine cruise speed on 75% power is estimated at 113 knots and stalling speed of 48 knots. Initial estimates aims for a 383-pound useful load, with three hours of fuel capacity. Preliminary specifications include a 23' 8" wingspan, and length of 18' 4".
Construction is of a tube frame and aluminium skin predrilled with pulled rivets. The control surfaces are covered with fabric. Early estimates of 600-800 hour build times will be fine-tuned during the beta builds.