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SE-BFX ERCO 415D Ercoupe c/n 4413 - Groningen Airport Eelde in Holland - 2 August 1981 more at Groningen Airport Eelde

ERCO, the "Engineering and Research Corporation", formed in 1930 and located in Riverdale, Maryland in the USA, built a variety of aircraft components and equipment for the aircraft industry. In 1934 Fred E. Weick and several fellow engineers at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) decided to design and assemble an aeroplane known as the W-1, as a response to the requirements set forth by the Bureau of Air Commerce sponsored design competition for an easy-to-fly, safe aircraft. The W-1 aeroplane had a high parasol wing and a tricycle gear; it was a single engined plane in a pusher propeller configuration with the propeller located behind the main supporting surfaces. After the Weick W-1 was involved in a crash due to engine failure, it was rebuilt as the W-1A. In Ocober 1936 Fred E. Weick was invited to join ERCO as chief engineer. His main project would be to put the ideas developed in the W-1 and W-1A into an airplane to be put into commercial production for private use. The ERCO plane should be designed as a low-wing aircraft in a tractor propeller configuration with the engine and propeller at the front of the aircraft. Upon his arrival in the company in 1937, he started immediately on the design of the ERCO airplane " job order 310". Fred Weick wanted an engine of about 60 or 65 horsepower, but none was available, so the prototype was designed to use a Continental A-40 engine. Construction of the parts of the 310 airplane started in the spring of 1937. The experimental 310 (NX19148 c/n 1) was completed in late September and it flew for the first time on October 1, 1937. The Erco 310 was the prototype of the Ercoupe, and was a foot shorter between the wing trailing edge and the leading edge of the horizontal stabilizer. The original Continental A-40 engine was later replaced with the ERCO's own 55 hp Erco IL-116 inverted inline four engine. The Erco 310 prototype was the basis for the production Model 415C Ercoupe. Production Ercoupe No. 1 was designated the Model 415 with the Erco engine. Almost immediately Continental decided to produce their own 65 hp engine, the A-65; and the lesser cost of the Continental instead of the Erco IL-116 prompted immediate redesign of the Model 415 into the 415-C (for Continental). The production aircraft was of all-metal construction with fabric covering for the wings and was virtually the same, except that it was fitted with a 65 hp Continental A-65-8 engine. The first production ERCO 415C (NC15692 c/n 1), now owned by the Smithsonian, was manufactured in October 1939 and received its FAA airworthiness certificate on April 2, 1940. In pre-war production 112 415Cs were built. Production continued until 1941 when the U.S.A. entered the war and aluminium supplies were needed for more urgent purposes. One 415C was evaluated by the Air Force as an observation aircraft, designated YO-55, and two more were tested as target drones, designated XPQ-13, but the aircraft appeared unsuited to any major military role and was not selected for production. As civil aircraft production was cancelled during World War II, ERCO produced punchers and other machinery. It was not until hostilities had ceased before the Ercoupe returned to production in August 1945. The post-war production version of the 415C was fitted with a 75 hp Continental C-75-12 and had a modified undercarriage. Initial sales were strong; at its peak, ERCO was turning out 34 Ercoupes per day, operating three shifts per day. In February 1946, Fred Weick was recognised for his work on the Ercoupe, receiving the Fawcett Aviation Award for the greatest contribution to the scientific advancement of private flying. Unfortunately, however, private aircraft sales slumped after the war and the bottom dropped out of the civil aircraft market in late 1946. As a result the owners of ERCO sold their remaining Ercoupe inventory to Saunders Aircraft Company in 1947. The Ercoupe remained in production until ERCO ceased Ercoupe production in 1951 with a total of 5081 built, and the Ercoupe type certificate was sold to Univair.  In April, 1955 the Foney Manufacturing Company purchased the type certificate and the Ercoupe re-entered production as the Forney F-1 Aircoupe. Some 115 of the F-1 Aircoupe were built up to 1959, when Forney's aircraft division was sold to Air Products Company of Carlsbad, New Mexico. A new series of 50 aircraft was built by Air Products Inc. as the F-1A until production ceased in 1962. In 1963 Alon Inc. of Wichita, Kansas, bought the rights of the airplane and put it back into production in 1964 with a 90 hp Continental engine as the A-2. Alon merged in 1967 with Mooney Aircraft of Kerrville, Texas, who continued to build the A-2A. The Ercoupe remained virtually unchanged in production till 1969 when Mooney redesigned the aircraft with a single fin as the M-10 Cadet.

On 2 August 1981, Ercoupe SE-BFX visited Eelde airfield near Groningen in the Netherlands. The aircraft is a model 415-D built in 1947. It was registered NC3788H before it was registered SE-BFX in Sweden on 28 August 1947. This ERCO 415D is one of more than a dozen active airframes of this model in Europe. Next to the SE-BFX, the SE-BFY is still active in Sweden. In the Netherlands the Ercoupe 415D s/n 4765 PH-NCE survived, that was registered PH-NCE in the Netherlands on 5 December 1947. The completely restored 1946-built Ercoupe 415C c/n 1903 flew first after restoration as N99280 on 15 October 2011 and is based at Lelystad Airport since.

page last updated: 05-11-2013
Copyright © Jack Wolbrink, Emmen, the Netherlands
 

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