The Cessna 170 is a light, general aviation, single-engine aircraft produced by the Cessna Aircraft Company between 1948 and 1956. When the used airplane market was swamped with surplus aircraft of practically all sizes, shapes and abilities, the Cessna 170 was a very credible endeavor by Cessna Aircraft to market a plane after the Second World War. One thing lacking on the surplus market was an economical, four seat aircraft, and therefore the Cessna 170 was born. Early versions of the Cessna 170 had fabric covered wings, but soon came an all metal, aluminum aircraft which was a relatively new idea in light, private aircraft. Later it became the 172, which has become the most produced aircraft ever. After the war, light plane manufacturers were very conscious to market the metal aircraft aspect of their designs, so 170s, 172s, 180s, 190s, 195s, Navions and Bonanzas were frequently seen with polished aluminum exteriors. Numerous contemporary aircraft have been restored to this finish.
Cessna began sales of the 170 with metal fuselage and tail and fabric covered wings in late 1948. With a more powerful 145 hp (108 kW) Continental O-300 and larger fuel tanks, these earliest 170s were four-seat versions of the popular 140 . Like the 140, they were constructed of metal with fabric-covered wings supported by a “V” strut.
In 1949, Cessna began marketing the 170A an all-metal 170 with zero-dihedral wings, and a single strut replacing the “V” strut of the 170. This and succeeding versions of the 170 shared the fin/rudder shape of the larger Cessna 190 and 195 models.
In 1950, the United States Army, Air Force and Marines began using the military variant of the 170, the Model 305, designated the L-19 and later O-1 Bird Dog by the military. Model 305 was used as a forward air control and reconnaissance aircraft. The aircraft was extensively re-designed from the basic 170 and included a revised fuselage and wing with large modified-Fowler flaps that deploy up to 60°.
The Cessna 170B was introduced featuring a new wing incorporating dihedral in 1952. The B model was equipped with very effective modified-Fowler (slotted, rearward-traveling) wing flaps which deflect up to 40. and a wing design that we still see in the Cessna light singles of today (constant NACA 2412 section with a chord of 64 inches (1,600 mm) from centerline to 100 inches (2,500 mm) out, then tapering to 44-inch (1,100 mm) NACA 2412 section chord at 208 inches from centerline, with three-degree washout across the tapered section). The 170B model also incorporated a new tailplane, a revised tailwheel, bigger rear windows and other refinements over the 170 and 170A.
In 1955, they changed the previously elliptical rear side windows to a more square design.
Cessna 170,-A,-B – Performance Data
|Horsepower: 145||Gross Weight: 2200 lbs|
|Top Speed: 122 kts||Empty Weight: 1205 lbs|
|Cruise Speed: 104 kts||Fuel Capacity: 42 gal|
|Stall Speed (dirty): 50 kts||Range: 410 nm|
|Over 50 ft obstacle: 1820 ft||Over 50 ft obstacle: 1145 ft|
|Rate Of Climb: 690 fpm|
|Ceiling: 15500 ft|
The Perfect Plane
What do you look for when buying a 170? The normal stuff, i.e. damage or log book entries that indicate ground loops, corrosion in control surfaces and around the tail cone and a weary engine. Getting an airplane with a decent engine today, whether it is a 170 or any other used bird, is an absolute must. Since the price of overhauling engines has gotten so astronomical, you can very easily find yourself with an airplane in which the price of overhauling the engine is higher than the total value of the machine.
With the price spread of 170s being what it is, it makes sense to go out and buy the absolute best one you can lay your hands on one which someone else has already invested the time and money to paint, upholster and set up with new avionics and an overhauled engine. An airplane like that should come in at around $15,000-$16,000 or maybe a couple thousand more if it’s a real showpiece. Even at that price it’s a hell of a lot cheaper than buying a bargain basement 170 and then using your own elbow grease to bring it up to snuff. If you want an airplane to restore that’s fine, but you’re not going to come out with a cheap airplane. What you will have is an airplane that is totally yours and reflects your own taste but it’s still going to cost more than those being sold at the top of the market.
If there were one modification I would make to the airplane it would be more horsepower. I have never had a chance to sit behind one of the 180 horse Lycoming conversions with the constant speed, prop, but I have to believe it would make the 170 a whole lot peppier. If you’re going to do that, maybe you ought to look at a Cessna 180 in the first place.
Good luck with whatever you decide.