Cessna or Seabee, pick your plane in 1946 and fly from land or sea

In the late 1940s, air­craft man­u­fac­tur­ers hoped that mil­i­tary pilots return­ing from World War II would want to con­tin­ue fly­ing civil­ian air­craft for plea­sure and sport. Cess­na and Repub­lic, two big sup­pli­ers to allied forces, switched their 194546 pro­duc­tion lines from mil­i­tary air­craft to civil­ian and they adver­tised their new civil­ian air­craft in these adver­tise­ments from the March 30, 1946 issue of Collier’s Magazine.

Cessna advertisement from Collier's Magazine, March 30, 1946

What better than a real, two-seater, cross-country airplane
that sold for less than $3,000.

The Cess­na 140 was the answer with its all-met­al struc­ture, full-range flaps, quick-ser­vice cowl­ing, patent­ed safe­ty land­ing gear, steer­able tail wheel and sun-proof, full vision wind­shield. What wasn’t pro­mot­ed was the cramped space afford­ed the pilot and pas­sen­ger. But they were flying!

Pro­duc­tion began in 1946. In the next five years Cess­na sold 7,664 in two con­fig­u­ra­tions – the Cess­na 140 and the Cess­na 120. The lat­ter didn’t have a starter, gen­er­a­tor or flaps.

The tail­drag­ger —named “Out­stand­ing Plane of the Year” in 1948 by the US Flight Instruc­tors Association—was com­pa­ra­ble in size to the 1946 Cadil­lac auto­mo­bile. It was 21ft 6 inch­es in length and 6ft 3inches high. The Cadil­lac was 18’ 4” long and 5’ 3” high. Fuel tank capac­i­ty for the Cess­na was 25 gal­lons in two wing tanks; the Cadillac’s tank held 20 gallons.

The auto­mo­bile out-pow­ered and out-weighed the plane with its 112 h.p. engine com­pared to only 85 h.p. and a weight of 4,500lbs to 1,450lbs

Read the his­to­ry of the
Cess­na and Clyde Cess­na
the company’s founder

Here’s a link describ­ing
what it was like fly­ing the Cess­na 140

The Inter­na­tion­al Cess­na 120–140 Asso­ci­a­tion is an all-vol­un­teer group of approx­i­mate­ly 1,000 own­ers, pilots and oth­ers who share a com­mon inter­est in restor­ing, main­tain­ing and fly­ing the Mod­els 120, 140 and 140A air­craft man­u­fac­tured by the Cess­na Air­craft Com­pa­ny in 1946–1951. Though over six­ty years old, these air­craft pro­vide a com­bi­na­tion of per­for­mance, ease and econ­o­my of oper­a­tion and main­te­nance unmatched by many cur­rent­ly pro­duced air­craft. Vis­it their web­site HERE

 It’s a writ­ten post by Bill Cox on the blog of the Cess­na Own­er Orga­ni­za­tion. If you have any inter­est in fly­ing then you must read Mr. Cox’s post. He notes: “The 140 wins rave reviews not because it does any one thing bet­ter than oth­er air­planes, but because it does every­thing well. In short, it’s among the best at being aver­age or better.”

Here’s a link to a video of Ter­ri Hall fly­ing her 1946 Cess­na 140 with Dewey Dav­en­port in 2017. Enjoy the flight.

 Republic Aviation ran this advertisement for the Seabee, in the same issue of Collier’s

The advertisement describes the Seabee Amphibian as an ideal post-war personal plane, versatile in performance, modestly priced, designed to go anywhere. Anywhere? Consider this:

“Buz­zards Bay  .  .  . as you take off in the salt tang of dawn  .  .  . sun­sets rem­i­nis­cent of Rem­ing­ton  .  .  . a few Gal­lic days at Chateau Fron­tenac  .  .  . Wing your way up the his­toric Mohawk, high over the Barge Canal  .  .  . Lake Placed for the win­ter sports  .  .  . Pitch your tent when the small mouth are jump­ing in the Wis­con­sin Dells  .  .  . that trip to the Shenan­doah you’ve always planned for  .  .  . Wash­ing­ton Air­port, pre­lude to an offi­cial vis­it  .  .  . New York, Chica­go, Detroit, San Fran­cis­co, Seat­tle or just a taxi strip in the old home town  .  .  . your own week­end sched­ule of lazy hours, a thou­sand and one vaca­tion or busi­ness spots any­where  .  .  . can be reached from where you are  .  .  . if you go the SEABEE way  .  .  . $3995.  Fly­away Factory.”

The Smithsonian Air and Space Museum The Museum acquired a Republic RC‑3 Seabee in 1984 from Robert N. Stiner, who had owned it for the previous fifteen years. In describing the Seabee, the museum noted that the plane was discontinued just two years after this advertisement ran and with only 1,076 planes sold:

“The Repub­lic Seabee amphib­ian was one of the most unusu­al air­planes to appear on the post-World War II gen­er­al avi­a­tion scene. It was designed as an afford­able, all-pur­pose sport air­craft for trans­porta­tion as well as a wide spec­trum of recre­ation­al pur­pos­es. The sea/landing capa­bil­i­ty not only broad­ened trav­el options but also pro­vid­ed remote access to fish­ing, hunt­ing, and many sport­ing activ­i­ties, and 1,076 of the air­craft were con­struct­ed before a col­laps­ing mar­ket ter­mi­nat­ed its pro­duc­tion by Repub­lic in 1948. How­ev­er, many Seabees are still fly­ing and they remain pop­u­lar with sea­plane pilots.”

Vis­it The Repub­lic Seabee Amphib­ian web­site—with count­less pho­tographs, news, his­to­ry, and spec­i­fi­ca­tions that doc­u­ment the his­to­ry of the Repub­lic Seabee and the sto­ry of her design­er, the leg­end Per­ci­val Hop­kins ‘Spence’ Spencer. And here are two oth­er links with more facts about the Seabee:

Air & Space Magazine in June/July issue  2017 carried  an article about
the Seabee written by Robert Bernier 

Aircraft Canada of Calgary imported a Seabee from USA on July 1, 2010 and listed it for sale at $135,900

And what were commercial airlines flying in 1946?

You can read about it  in this post that asks what hap­pened to the promis­es that air trav­el would be lux­u­ri­ous and pass­sen­gers would relax in great soft armchairs.