Plane of the week #4 Grumman AgCat
I have started to develop an interest in crop dusters over the past few months, their low level skimming is mezmorizing as are the planes utilitarian layouts. One of the older successful types designed specifically for this task is the Grumman Ag Cat. This is not to say crop dusting was done before the AgCat, most of those were usually converted from standard types like the Boeing Stearman.
The design for the Grumman G-164 Ag Cat started in the early 50's as Grumman designers were looking to diversify their product line. With the growing need for "aerial application" (crop dusting) and plenty of experience after netting tremendous orders by the military, Grumman was well placed to develop this swift little aircraft.
Crop dusting is extremely demanding on an aircraft design. Unlike fighters which require a high level of technology, a crop duster must emphasize simplicity in order to operate for long periods of time in a high-stress manner. Steel tube and fabric construction offers quick designing, ease of modification, robustness, and survivability at fairly low cost. This was duly done in the Ag Cat. A crop duster must also have excellent lifting properties and low speed abilities, hence the biplane layout with an airfoil featuring a generous amount of chamber. Generous control surface sizing also allows for swift action at low speed, giving the plane enough agility to dodge power lines, fences, road traffic, and maybe the occasional barn while also allowing the pilot to quickly drop into a field for a pass on the crops. These aircraft must
also carry a useful load of applicant in a container that 1) contains the chemicals to protect the plane and pilot, 2)
allows for rapid reloding and reliable flow through the nozzles, and 3) flexibility in use. To this end the plane must also be able to quickly land on an improvised surface, taxi accurately up to a waiting truck, then be quickly refilled with
applicant and then a quick take off from the improvised strip.
Thus the bar was set fairly high for the Ag Cat design team. However, we are talking about Grumman here folks! Grumman
after all produced the Wildcat, Hellcat, Tigercat, Bearcat, Avenger, Tracker/Tracer/Trader, Panther, and Cougar! The
Grumman designers were very familiar with designing rugged and reliable designs that filled their required mission perfectly. They also were pretty fond of radials, thus the AgCat would also recieve one of these 'proper' engines. The
first AgCats using several different radials usually between 200-300HP made by Jacobs, Continental, or Gulf Coast. Shortly after the design did its first flight in 1957 with FAA certification coming in 1959. Eventually these aircraft would also be powered by turbo props and a few higher power radials giving the AgCat (TurboCat with a Turboprop) over 400hp in these cases! In my opinion, the Turbo Cats are ugly planes, the turbo prop mounting has such a cobbled together apperance to me and gives the plane an odd look...Radials are always prettier in my book!http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grumman_Ag ... ote-Wood-0
However, Grumman's military orders ment they could not actually build the aircraft. Thus the entire program was sub-
contracted out to Schweizer. Over the course of the next couple of decades the rights transferred ownership from Schweizer to Grumman American, American Jet Industries, then back to Schweizer by the 80's. Over the course of production, several thousand were built. Today on the FAA registry under the model name G-164 there are ~1241 listed although this includes aircraft which are not flying. Either way, that is a very impressive number of airframes still on the registry! Keep in mind that is just the US, I did not check any other registries.http://registry.faa.gov/aircraftinquiry ... 4&PageNo=1
There is a very famous Ag Cat that has been seen at airshows in the US for a while and it is flown by non other than "Mr. Airshow" himself: Gene Soucy! His aircraft of choice for his routine and wing walking is a modified Ag Cat called "The ShowCat" painted in a stricking red, orange, and yellow paint scheme.http://www.genesoucy.com/aircraft.htm
I have seen him perform on many occasions and he is easily one of the best solo acts out there. His routines feature low
altitude, in-your-face, LOUD, and smooth manuevering using the ShowCat's inherent high lift wings and effective controls to stay close to the crowd while the radial engine puts out an Earth shaking noise to add to the feel.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IxZsBY_mMIM
And he does night shows:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ud5DKkdtSO8
Over at SimOutHouse there are at least half a dozen AgCats including TurboCats and their 'joyride' versions that replace
the hopper (applicant tank) with an additional seat.
Here at SimV there are also a few AgCats available, I would give you the name of one I have that is high detail BUT my
laptop is KIA...so you might have to search around and try them out. I tried a couple quick searches but could not find
them, you might have to look harder.
So to wrap up here so the wife can have her laptop back, here are some videos of real ag cats doing their thing:
Turbo Cat; this guy also has a stellar Flickr photo album of crop dusters using the same username as here:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-3vi0IhXA1U
Odd thing to do for an airshow...http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xENwZT-V ... ure=fvwrel
Finally one of my favorite flying videos of all time, it is very relaxing due to the music and offers an interesting view;
also of a Turbo Cat:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fHwkQ8Iy ... re=related
I hope you enjoyed my rambling, any comments or additional pictures/links are welcome in comments below.
PS Gene Soucy is hitting Oshkosh next week!