Piper PA-11

Role Personal use aircraft
National origin USA
Manufacturer Piper Aircraft
First flight August 1946
Introduction 1947
Status still in operation
Primary user private pilot owners
Produced 1947-1949
Number built 1,541[1]
Developed from Piper J-3 Cub
Variants Piper PA-18 Super Cub

The Piper PA-11 Cub Special is a later production, two-place variant of the Piper J-3 Cub light propeller-driven aircraft, manufactured by Piper Aircraft.

Design and development

PA-11 landing

The airframe is basically the same as a J-3, but the engine mount is angled slightly lower, the windshield more sloped, the cowling is fully closed and the fuel tank was raised and placed in the port wing.[2] Both seats were slightly moved back, and solo flying was usually from the front seat. Early PA-11s had a Continental A65-8 engine, while the later ones had the option of a Continental C90-8.[2]

Several current-production light-sport aircraft are being produced based on this configuration. On the early PA-11s, the fuselage was painted with a metallic blue on the lower half the rest being Lock Haven Yellow. The later PA-11s were all yellow with a simple brown stripe.

PA-11 Cub Special at Chelles airfield near Paris in June 1967

The aircraft formed the basis for the next evolution in the Piper Cub series: The Piper PA-18 Super Cub. The PA-11 and its successor, the PA-18-95, share many common traits. With a gross weight of 1,220 lb (553 kg). and average empty weight of 850 lb (386 kg)., the PA-11 is a light enough to perform well, yet heavy enough to maneuver easily in more wind than the lighter J-3 Cub. The PA-11 is capable of short takeoffs and landings, yet has a respectable cruise speed for its configuration. Given that the PA-11 falls into the modern day category of light sport aircraft it is a popular airplane to acquire and commands a premium price.


PA-11S floatplane at Seattle Renton in 1973

The PA-11 was one of the first aircraft to be used in experiments with the nose-wheel (also known as tricycle gear) configuration. Although its original design is intended to be a tail-dragger, a modification was created to mount a nosewheel onto the front of the aircraft. The nose-wheel is attached to the two rear engine mounts by y-shaped steel tubes attached to a steel tube with a shaft that slides freely with the wheel. Cables ran underneath the belly directly from fixtures on the rudder pedals to the nosewheel shaft. This gave the ability to steer by pivoting the nosewheel shaft with the rudder pedals. The shock system consisted of six circular bungee cords, sometimes four for softer landings, located on either side of the nosewheel shaft to ears on the top tube and the bottom shaft connected to the wheel. In order for the aircraft to balance properly with the nosewheel, the main gear was flipped around so that the center of balance would move forward. The pilot would sit in the front seat for added balance.

Most PA-11s in service today retain the original tailwheel undercarriage layout.[3] Numbers of Cub Specials have been converted for flight operation using floats.


Piper PA-11 Cub Special
Two-seat light aircraft, powered by a 65 hp (48 kW) Continental A65-8 piston engine.
Military version of the PA-11 Cub Special, powered by a 95 hp (71 kW) Continental C90-8F piston engine. 105 built and delivered to Turkey, under the Military Assistance Program.


Military Operators


Specifications (PA-11 with 90 hp Continental engine)

Data from Piper Aircraft and Their Forerunners [4]

General characteristics



  1. Simpson 2005, p. 230.
  2. 1 2 Peperell 1987, p. 55.
  3. Peperell 1987, pp. 55–57.
  4. Peperell 1987, p. 57.
  • Peperell, Roger. Piper Aircraft and Their Forerunners. Tunbridge Wells, Kent, UK: Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd, 1987. ISBN 0-85130-149-5.
  • Simpson, Rod. General Aviation Handbook. Leicester, UK: Midland Publishing, 2005. ISBN 978-1-85780-222-1.

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