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1939 Luscombe 8A

Luscombe Front Quarter View

Don A. Luscombe became interested in aircraft while serving in France during World War I. In the 1920s, he was instrumental in developing the Monocoupe line of aircraft which first appeared in 1927. Not satisfied with the fabric-covered steel tubing construction of the Monocoupes, he began to consider ways of improving an already good airplane. This led him to break with the Mono Aircraft Corporation and set up his own aircraft manufacturing company, "D. A. Luscombe, Manufacturer of Airplanes".

His new designs were a break from the past in that they used an all-metal monocoque fuselage. The first of these planes, the Luscombe Phantom, was very well-received, but it was complicated and expensive to manufacture. It was also quite tricky to land, and even Don Luscombe himself flipped one on its back during a sales demo flight. Because the Phantom was so expensive, it didn't sell well. Luscombe began designing and manufacturing smaller and less expensive aircraft in an attempt to create a plane that would be popular, inexpensive, and profitable.

Luscombe 8A Right Front View

This effort led to the Luscombe Model 8. Although designed for the new Continental 50-hp flat 4-cylinder engine, the firewall was round so that a small radial engine could be fitted if the new Continental design proved faulty. In the event, the new engine worked well, and the design proved itself. Later versions of the Model 8 were fitted with larger engines and designated with a suffix letter to indicate engine and other model changes. Thus, the Luscombe 8A uses a 65-hp Continental engine. This is the model owned by the PFM.

Luscombe 8A Rear View

The Luscombe Model 8 is a side-by-side two-place, high-wing aircraft of all-metal construction (except for fabric wing covering in earlier models). This is the first light aircraft to use monocoque construction (where the metal skin of the airplane carries the load instead of an internal framework). It's an efficient little airplane, able to cruise at 100 mph on 65 hp. Due to its good performance, it acquired a reputation as a "hot ship" among pilots used to Piper Cubs and Aeronca Champs. Despite this reputation, it is actually pretty easy to fly.

Although the plane was originally developed with a 50-hp engine, later developments of the Model 8 were fitted with larger engines ranging up to 90 hp. One model, the T8F, was a tandem version developed for a military liaison aircraft competition. It didn't win, but several were produced for use as utility aircraft and cropdusters. Over 5500 Model 8s were built, and hundreds (maybe even a couple of thousand) remain.

Additional Information

For more information about the Luscombes, check out the Don Luscombe Aviation History Foundation. The Foundation is the owner of the Model 8 Type Certificate, and is dedicated to preserving Luscombe history, traditions, and aircraft. They provide excellent support to Luscombe owners by maintaining a stock of parts and developing service and inspection methods to help keep these aging airplanes flying safely. The remaining Luscombes are also supported by two type clubs, the Luscombe Association and the Continental Luscombe Association, which provide support, assistance, and camaraderie to owners and other people interested in Luscombe aircraft.