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Developed since 1955, starting from the project of its predecessor Cessna 170, it was the first model with tricycle gear built by Cessna. It was thought as a direct competitor of Piper Aircraft which had already converted its PA-20 Pacer into a tricycle gear version named PA-22 Tri-Pacer.
A Cessna 172 Skyhawk - Photo by Smithsonian Institution

Overview 

Developed since 1955, starting from the project of its predecessor Cessna 170, it was the first model with tricycle gear built by Cessna. It was thought as a direct competitor of Piper Aircraft which had already converted its PA-20 Pacer into a tricycle gear version named PA-22 Tri-Pacer.

The first versions of the Cessna 172 were in fact substantially quite similar to the Cessna model 170 from which it inherited almost the entire configuration, including the engine with the exception of the vertical rudder which in the Cessna 172 had been modified in a rectangular shape instead of blunt as in the Model 170.

Upon its release on the market, the Model 172, was promoted to the public with the slogan "Land-O-Matic, flying like driving" precisely because of the presence of the front wheel which made it particularly easy to control both on the ground and during take-offs and landings.

The first version of the Cessna 172, produced until 1960, was therefore equipped with the same engine as the Cessna 170, the 145 HP six-cylinder, air-cooled Continental O-300. The weight of the aircraft in total was 998 kg.

The conversion of the Model 170 to the Model 172 into a tricycle gear was probably the most important upgrade in the history of general aviation; the Cessna 172 became so popular that in a few years it overtook its direct competitor Piper Aircraft in the construction of general aircraft for private usage and training.

Throughout history, the Cessna 172, has been modified and produced in multiple versions. These changes mainly impacted the engine. We have in fact gone from the 145 HP six-cylinder Continental O-300 to the 150 HP four-cylinder Lycoming O-320, the latter initially developed for the Cessna Cardinal. Other popular engines were the 160 and 180 HP Lycoming O-320.

Regarding the avionic panel, despite minor changes made over time, the most important modification to report is in 2005; in fact, the Garmin G1000 glass cockpit was installed, equipped with MFD with real-time detection and display of data regarding the weather, the conformation of the ground as well as the connection link to the Bendix King KAP 140 autopilot.

 


N5000A, the first Cessna 172 produced and still flying

 

Key versions of the Cessna 172

The Cessna 172 was built in different versions, the most significant are listed below:

C172 - Built from 1955 until the early sixties, equipped with a 145 HP Continental O-300 engine
C172A - Equipped with arrow rudder and attachments for conversion to seaplane
C172B - Introduced in the late 1960s, it was the first Cessna nicknamed "Skyhawk"
C172D - It was the first Cessna equipped with a panoramic rear window named by Cessna as "Omni-Vision", a solution that had already been adopted on the Cessna 180 and 210
C172F - The first version equipped with electrically actuated flaps, built in France by Reims
C172N - Known as the Skyhawk N or Skyhawk 100, equipped with a 160 HP Lycoming O-320-H2AD engine designed to run on 100 octane gasoline
C172P - The successor model to the C172N, built to replace the problematic O-320-H2AD C172N with the more efficient Lycoming O-320-D2J
C172RG Cutlass - The retractable landing gear version of the Cessna 172 introduced in 1980, equipped with the 180 HP Lycoming O-360-F1A6 engine

Description 

The Cessna 172N is a single-engine aircraft, with four seats and fixed tricycle gear. The wing configuration is straight with swept tail tail fletches.

It is equipped with an Avco Lycoming O-320-H2AD 160 HP air-cooled piston and four-cylinder opposed engine, equipped with a 75-inch diameter fixed-pitch McCauley 1C160 two-blade propeller.

Externally, the characteristic livery is striped, shown on the sides of the fuselage starting from the front cowling of the engine up to the tail balancer. It is generally equipped with boots on the landing gear wheels, while in the passenger side it has the "Omni-Vision" panoramic rear window.

Avionics

The cockpit of the Cessna 172N has the standard layout of flight instruments, in the left section there are: the anemometer, the artificial horizon, the altimeter, the turn coordinator, the directional and the variometer. In the central part there are the radio navigation instruments block, the NAV / COMM control unit with the ADF, the VOR and the transponder. The circuit breakers are located on the lower part of the panel on the left, while in the lower right the engine throttle, the control for the fuel mixture and the control for the flaps. 

Technical sheet in standard configuration

 

Engine Lycoming O-320-H2AD
Propellers (2 blades) McCauley 1C160 fixed-pitch
Maximum Takeoff Weight 1.043 kg
Standard Empty Weight 631 kg
Baggage Allowance 54 kg
Maximum Useful Load 410 kg
Usable Fuel Capacity 43 Gal / 54 Gal for Long Range
Take-Off Distance (50 ft) 438 m
Landing Distance (50 ft) 381 m
Service Ceiling 4328 m
Maximum Speed at Sea Level 231 km/h
Stall Speed (flaps up, power off) 92 km/h
Rate of Climb 396 m/min
**Technical sheet referred to the Cessna 172N 1978

 

 

Bonus content:


 

References:

http://home.iwichita.com/rh1/hold/av/avhist/csn/csn_tri.htm

https://www.flyingmag.com/aircraft/pistons/evolution-cessna-172/

https://www.boldmethod.com/blog/lists/2015/02/10-facts-about-the-cessna-172-skyhawk/

https://www.pilotweb.aero/features/flight-tests/flight-test-cessna-170-1-5453031

https://www.pilotweb.aero/news/cessna-skyhawk-65th-birthday-1-6701465 

http://stateaviationjournal.com/index.php/national-news/land-o-matic-makes-flying-like-driving

https://www.flyingmag.com/story/aircraft/cessna-172-still-relevant/