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Cadet / PQ-8
Culver PQ-8A c. 1941
Role Two-seat Light Monoplane
Manufacturer Culver Aircraft Company
Designer Albert Mooney
First flight 1939
Number built 600+
Variants PQ-14 Cadet

The Culver Cadet was an American two-seat light monoplane aircraft, and later a radio-controlled drone, produced by the Culver Aircraft Company.

Design and development

The aircraft designer Al Mooney developed an improved version of the Culver Dart, to provide improved performance with a smaller engine. Originally designated the Culver Model L the prototype first flew on 2 December 1939. The aircraft was named the Culver Cadet. Although similar to the previous Dart the Cadet had a semi-monocoque fuselage instead of welded-steel-tube and a retractable tailwheel undercarriage. The first variant (the Cadet LCA) was powered by a 75 hp (56 kW) Continental A75-8 four-cylinder horizontally-opposed piston engine. The 1941 version was designated the Cadet LFA and introduced a number of refinements and more equipment, and was fitted with an 90 hp (67 kW) Franklin engine. Production was brought to an end after the United States entered World War II in December 1941, but the Cadet had found export orders, including to Uruguay, and had a new military role.

The Cadet was one of six models that Al Mooney designed during his eight years at Culver. He would leave to found Mooney Aircraft.

Operational history

In 1940 the Cadet LCA was selected by the United States Army Air Corps as being suitable for use as a radio-controlled target. The first aircraft was designated the Culver A-8 (later the XPQ-8) and was based on the Cadet LFA but had fixed tricycle landing gear. After successful tests a production order for 200 was placed, and designated the PQ-8, later another 200 were ordered with a more powerful engine as the PQ-8A. In late 1941 the United States Navy acquired a PQ-8A for evaluation and then ordered 200 in 1941 as the TDC-2. An enlarged and improved version was later built as the Culver PQ-14.

Several Cadets, with both military and civilian origins, are still (2012) airworthy in the United States and some are preserved in airworthy condition by museums.


1941-built LCA Cadet preserved airworthy in 2006

1940 Culver Cadet

Cadet LCA
Initial production version powered by a 75 hp (56 kW) Continental A75-8.
Cadet LFA
Improved variant with an 80 hp (60 kW) Franklin 4AC-176-F3, Franklin 4AC-176-D2, or Franklin 4AC-176-D3 engine, and a full electrical system and engine starter.
Cadet LFA-90
Limited edition variant with a 90 hp (67 kW) Franklin 4AC-199-E3 engine.
LAR (Army A-8)
Initial designation of military radio-controlled drone version, later redesignated PQ-8.
LAR-90 (Army PQ-8)
Initial production military drone version, 200 built.
PQ-8 powered by a 125 hp (93 kW) Lycoming O-290 engine, redesignated Q-8A in 1948, 200 built.
PQ-8A redesignated in 1948.
One PQ-8 for evaluation by the United States Navy.
Production version of the PQ-8A for the Navy, 200 built.
Aero Systems Cadet STF
Plans built "optimized" Cadet design, offered by Aero Systems of La Mesa, California, United States in 2010. The plans call for a wood and steel structure, with a 100 hp (75 kW) Continental O-200 powerplant, producing a cruise speed of 135 mph (217 km/h).[1]


United States


The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum owns a Culver TD2C-1 Serial No. 120035 used by the United States Navy.[2]

Culver LCA Cadet NC34785 - 1941 on display at Western Antique Aeroplane & Automobile Museum

Specifications (Cadet LFA)

General characteristics

  • Crew: 2
  • Length: 17 ft 8 in (5.38 m)
  • Wingspan: 27 ft 0 in (8.23 m)
  • Height: 5 ft 6 in (1.68 m)
  • Wing area: 120 ft² (11.15 m²)
  • Empty weight: 806 lb (366 kg)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 1,305 lb (592 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Franklin 4AC-176-F3 flat-four piston, 80 hp (60 kw)


  • Maximum speed: 142 mph (229 km/h)
  • Range: 500 miles (805 km)
  • Service ceiling: 17,000 ft (5180 m)

See also


  1. Bayerl, Robby; Martin Berkemeier; et al: World Directory of Leisure Aviation 2011-12, page 90. WDLA UK, Lancaster UK, 2011. ISSN 1368-485X
  2. "Culver TD2C-1." NASM via Retrieved: 11 November 2010.
  • The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Aircraft (Part Work 1982-1985). London: Orbis Publishing, 1985.
  • Mondey, David. American Aircraft of World War II (Hamlyn Concise Guide). London: Bounty Books, 2006. ISBN 978-0-7537-1461-4.
  • Mormillo, Frank B. "Defenceless Warrior: Culver's PQ-14 Drone." Air Enthusiast, Issue 93, May/June 2001.
  • Simpson, R.W. Airlife's General Aviation. Shrewsbury, UK: Airlife Publications. 1991. ISBN 1-85310-194-X.

External links

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