Collection Item Summary:
The Arrow Sport A2-60 is a rare example of an alternative design, depression-era biplane. It complements the Smithsonian's Kreider-Reisner Challenger and Waco 9, conventional tandem open-cockpit biplanes. The Arrow Sport offered a side-by-side, dual-control cockpit arrangement. Its cantilever wings were attached only to the upper center section strut and lower fuselage-they had no other struts or external flying wires for bracing. However, enough pilots were uncomfortable without some sort of visible wing support that "N" struts later became standard.
Equipped with 60- or 90-horsepower LeBlond engines, Arrow Sports made excellent trainers. About 100 were built through 1931, then more, at a slower pace, through the 1930s. This airplane had a succession of owners and even spent some time in England.
Collection Item Long Description:
The Arrow Sport A2-60 biplane is a rare example of an alternative design depression-era airplane that complements the museum's Kreider-Reisner C-4C (Fairchild KR-34) and the Waco 9, conventional tandem open-cockpit biplanes of that same era. Its side-by-side, dual-control cockpit arrangement offered a difference in cockpit configuration and the original cantilever wings were bolted directly to the upper center section strut and the lower fuselage with no interplane struts or external flying wires. However, just as Anthony Fokker did on his WWI era DR-1Triplane and D-VII Biplane, struts were soon added as an option to assuage the fears of wary customers who wondered if the wings might collapse.
The Arrow Aircraft and Motors Corporation of Havelock, Nebraska, built the prototype Arrow Sport in 1926 based on a design by Sven S. Swanson, who later designed the Kari-Keen Coupe, Swanson Coupe, Fahlin Coupe and Plymacoupe. It received its type certificate as Model A2-60 in February 1929 and sold at the factory for $2,900-$3,485. Pilots liked the price and the side-by-side seating, and the vision from the cockpit and the dual controls also made it an excellent trainer aircraft.
The airplane was a structurally robust design with a welded steel tube fuselage and tail. The one-piece cantilever wings were built of spruce box spars and spruce and plywood ribs. Later production runs included the interplane "N" struts, made of streamlined steel tubing, as standard equipment. The entire airplane was fabric covered, doped, and painted in its chosen colors. The split-axle main landing gear had an unusually wide 78" wheel tread. The horizontal stabilizer was adjustable in flight from the left side of the cockpit. The early Sport 60 initially offered a 6-cylinder 60 hp Anzani engine as well as the Detroit Air Cat engine, however the 5-cylinder 60 hp Le Blond engine soon became the standard production engine. Next came three versions: the Arrow Sport 60 and the Arrow Sport 90 with Le Blond engines, and the Arrow Pursuit with a 100 hp Kinner radial engine.
About 100 Sport airplanes were produced through 1931, and Arrow Aircraft and Motors Corporation built aircraft for the weekend pilot throughout the depression. The market did not develop as planned though and, as military production expanded in the late 1930s, Arrow lost money on every airplane it sold. In November 1940, the Arrow Corporation closed its doors.
The Museum's Arrow Sport is a Model A2-60, serial number 341. It was completed at the factory on June 20, 1929 and was assigned registration number NC9325 by the U.S. Department of Commerce Aeronautics Branch. The airplane had the a 60 hp Le Blond 60 5-D engine, serial number 449, and a Hartzell propeller. According to the Aeronautics Branch records and the factory bill of sale, the airplane was painted red with cream wings. On July 8, 1929, East Coast Aircraft, a distributor, bought the aircraft and then sold it to Hugh M. Rockwell of Aircraft Inc. Ronald Ohmeyer purchased it on April 29, 1930 and, in 1932, he had the airplane completely recovered and painted, although there is no record of the color scheme that he used. Ohmeyer kept the airplane until December 1964 when he sold it to J.A. Schlie and W.R. Archer for $1.00 and other unnamed considerations. In July 1967, J.N. Talmadge purchased the airplane and kept it until 1979.
In September 1979, the airplane again changed hands when Philip Mann of London, England bought and shipped it to England. In 1980, he recovered it with modern ceconite fabric and painted it yellow except for the horizontal tail and rudder, which were painted cream. A compass was also installed and it was given the alliterative English registration G-AARO. It first flew in England on August 18, 1980. In May 1981, the original Le Blond 60 engine was replaced with a Le Blond 90 5-DF 90 hp engine, serial number 1061. The airplane made its last flight in England on May 8, 1983 at the Duxford Museum. On May 14, 1983, it sold at a Christie's auction in London to American Charles Osborne who returned the airplane to the United States and re-registered it with its original N9325 number. Osborne then arranged to trade it to the NASM for a surplus military North American T-28 Trojan trainer, under the auspices of National Heritage, Inc., Louisville, Kentucky, on March 27, 1987.
In examining the aircraft, the only apparent major changes since its original manufacture are the location of the compression/shock struts (bungees) on the main landing gear, the replacement of the original disk wheels with spoked wheels, and new color markings. The compression strut changes consisted of moving them upward to where the struts attach to the fuselage. Additional instruments were added to the basic instrument group, including a wet compass, fuel gauge, voltmeter, an additional altimeter and an antenna on the turtleback. The Museum removed the compass and antenna (now in storage) to return the aircraft to a more original look. A radio was also installed at some time but was missing when the airplane was received by the museum. The aircraft had 174 hours and 10 minutes recorded time on May 20, 1982, when the airplane was still in England, but no further recorded time can be found. It is located at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia.