The Aeronca L-16 Champion was a post-war development of the L-3 Grasshopper, originally intended for use with the National Guard but forced into front line service during the Korean War.
The Aeronca L-3 Grasshopper was based on the Aeronca Model 65 Defender, and was one of three very similar aircraft produced in large quantities to use as liaison and observation aircraft. They were all high winged monoplanes with fixed undercarriages, wings designed to aid with slow flying and short take off and landing, and with fabric covered fuselages.
The L-16 was based around the Aeronca Model 7BC and 7EC Champion, light sports aircraft that were very similar to the L-3. Like the earlier design it was a high winged monoplane, with an advanced wing, tandem seats for the crew of two in an extensively glazed cockpit, built around a metal tube frame with a fabric cover. The L-16A was powered by a similar Continental flat-four engine, in this case the 85hp Continental O-190. This engine produced 20hp more than the O-170 of the L-3, and was only slightly heavier. However the basic L-16A had very similar performance figures to the L-3, with the same speed, a slightly better service ceiling and shorter range. 509 of the L-16A were built. They were followed by 100 L-16Bs, which used the Continental O-205, an upgraded version of the O-170.
The L-16 was originally purchased for use by the National Guard. However after the outbreak of the Korean War the Army suddenly needed many more liaison aircraft and the L-16 was pressed into front line service. Some went to Korea, but most were used as crew trainers in the United States. However it wasn’t a great success in either role, and it was soon replaced by more modern aircraft such as the all-metal Cessna L-19/ O-1 Bird Dog. The Most of the remaining L-16s were handed over the Civil Air Patrol in 1952-54.
The L-16A was the most common version of the aircraft, with 509 built, of which 376 were originally intended to go to the National Guard. It was powered by a 85hp Continental O-190-1 engine.
The L-16B was a heavier version of the aircraft, powered by a 90hp Continental O-205-1 engine. It also had a slightly larger wing, and small dorsal fin to improve stability. Its performance was significantly better than the L-16A, with a top speed of 110mph, up from 87mph, an extra 2,000ft of service ceiling and almost twice the range. A total of 100 were produced.
Engine: Continental O-205-1
Span: 35ft 0in
Length: 21ft 6in
Height: 7ft 0in
Empty weight: 890lb
Gross weight: 1,450lb
Max speed: 110mph
Cruising speed: 100mph
Climb Rate: 800ft / min
Service ceiling: 14,500ft