Revell 1/32 Piper PA-18 Super Cub




$31.00 SRP


4 options


Blair Stewart


New mold; complete engine



The Piper PA-18 Super Cub is a two-seat, single-engine monoplane. Introduced in 1949 by Piper Aircraft, it was developed from the Piper PA-11, and with a design and construction heritage back through the J-3 to the Taylor E-2 Cub of the 1930s. In close to 40 years of production, over 7,500 were built. Super Cubs are commonly used for bush flying, banner and glider towing, and other situations in which short-field performance is required. It is considered to be one of the most sought after bush planes in the world. Even new bush planes, such as the Fairchild F-11 Husky, cannot take off and land in as short a distance as the Super Cub.

The PA-18 Super Cub was the ultimate development of Piper's original J-3 Cub aircraft. The four seat development of the Cub, the PA-14 Family Cruiser, was the basis for the Super Cub, but the Super Cub differed by having seating for two in tandem (as on the Cub), all metal wings and, in its initial form, a 90hp Continental C-90 in the PA-18-90 or a 108hp Lycoming O-235 engine in the PA-18-105. The Super Cub flew for the first time in 1949, and certification was awarded on November 18 in that year. The first production Super Cubs were delivered starting in late 1949, and the new model replaced the PA-11 Cub Special on Piper's production lines.

While based on the design of the earlier Piper Cubs, the addition of an electrical system, flaps (3 notches), and a much more powerful engine make it a very different flying experience than earlier Cubs. Although the "standard" Super Cub was fitted with a 150 horsepower Lycoming engine, many were equipped with a 180 hp powerplant. The high-lift wing and powerful engine made the Super Cub a prime candidate for conversion into a floatplane or a ski plane. In addition, the PA-18A (an agricultural version) was produced to apply either dry chemical or liquid spray to fields.

The Super Cub retained the basic "rag and tube" (fabric stretched over a steel tube frame) structure of the earlier J-3 Cub.

The first true Super Cubs had flaps, dual fuel tanks, and an O-235 Lycoming engine producing about 108 hp (115 hp for takeoff only); however, a 90 hp Continental without flaps and an optional second wing tank was available. Their average empty weight was 800-1000 pounds with a gross weight of 1,500 lbs. These Cubs would take off in about 400 feet (at gross weight) and land in about 300 feet (taking full advantage of the flaps). The Super Cub is famous for its ability to take off and land in very short distances. With its light wing loading, some can take off in 50 feet and land in 30. The later O-290 Lycoming-powered Cubs (135 hp) could take off in about 200 feet. The landing distance remained the same at about 400 feet, or 300 feet using the flaps. With the introduction of the Lycoming O-320 at 150-160 hp, the Cub's allowable gross weight increased to 1,750 lbs. while retaining the capability of only 200 feet required for takeoff.

The 100kW (135hp) Lycoming O-290 powered PA-18-135 appeared in 1952, while the definitive 110kW (150hp) Lycoming O-320 powered PA-18-150 was certificated on October 1 1954 and delivered from the following year.

The Super Cub is one of Piper's most successful and long lived aircraft programs, with production spanning over four decades.

The Super Cub remained in production with Piper through until 1981, when almost 7500 (including 1700 military) had been built over an uninterrupted 32 year production run. Piper continued building 250 Super Cubs on behalf of Texas-based WTA who held the manufacturing and marketing rights from 1981 until 1988. In 1988 Piper resumed marketing responsibility for the Super Cub and continued low rate production (100 total). Financial troubles meant that Super Cub production ceased in 1992, before resuming once more the following year. Finally in late 1994 Piper announced that the Super Cub would not form part of its model line for 1995 and that it would cease production after the last of 24 on order for distributor Muncie Aviation were completed.



The Super Cub is an interesting addition to the resurgent 1/32 scale aircraft kit world, and continues Revell AG’s recent line of civil sector aircraft kits. What you get in the box is seven sprues of white plastic parts (about 78) and a large sprue of clear plastic parts, plus a rather large decal sheet. The molding is crisp with little to no flash evident.  Of particular note are the fabric surfaces, which are very realistic. The kit includes decals for several different instrument panel configurations. Other options include an alternate tail wheel strut and the option to install wheel brakes, which was not a normal feature of most of these aircraft. For a detailed look at the kit in the box, see the Boss' Preview.




This is only my second Revell AG kit in recent years, and after numerous Hasegawa and Dragon kits, the Revell instructions take a little “getting used to.” But the relatively small number of parts (compared to a Dragon armor kit with say 500+ parts) makes this task much easier. I set out to follow the exact sequence of assembly recommended by the instructions; however, given my tendency to “know better than the kit manufacturer,” I deviated at one point, and this almost resulted in a disaster (more on that later).   

Construction begins with the cockpit, and Revell has very accurately reproduced the details of the real cockpit cockpit. I installed the tubular steel frames that frame up the cockpit interior. The Super Cub had its framing on the inside, which allowed Revell to create a separately molded interior section to build up within the tubular frames. I mounted the dual sticks, rudder pedals with heel brake tabs and two seats to the floorboard, which I then installed inside the framing. Once this was done, I added the instrument panel and coaming, and then sandwiched the interior between the fuselage halves. At this stage, I spray-painted the interior overall flat black and painted various small pieces with a brush. I used the instrument panel decal rather than paint the instruments.

I assembled the wings, including their struts, but, at this stage, chose not to attach them to the fuselage with the kit’s main spar arrangement that is molded in clear and doubles as one of the overhead windows (my thinking here was I would paint the wing assemblies and then install them later). Incidentally, this main spar is a really nice touch, as it keeps the wings solid and at the right angle once they are installed.

Next, I moved to the assembly of the very nicely detailed Continental engine. Detailers can add spark plug wires to increase the fidelity of their model. The engine is really a model in itself, but I found some fit and alignment issues. I glued the engine supports to the engine rear and then proceeded with assembly of the engine, and then attached the intake manifold and the exhaust pipes. I proceeded to paint all of the various engine parts with a brush. The next step was to attach the engine to the firewall. At this point, something went astray in my assembly process, as I found I had several fit and alignment problems. After a lot of fiddling and bad language, I was able to get the engine to at least look like it belonged in the model’s fuselage.

I then glued the separately molded rudder to the tail and the tail wheel assembly to the fuselage. I painted the inside of the engine cowl’s top the airplane’s exterior color, which was going to be Chrome Yellow, and then  glued that and the front cowl to the fuselage. 


Once everything was assembled, I headed to my basement paint booth. I masked off the cockpit with blue painter’s tape. I then stuffed wet Kleenex into the openings around the engine to prevent overspray on it. After the paint was dry, I was ready for the final assembly.

And here is where the problem became apparent. Rather than pay attention to the instructions, I glued the wings and their spar to the fuselage, thinking I could then install the remaining windows in the cockpit. Wrong! This proved to be a major mistake, as I had to fiddle and adjust and cajole these parts into a semblance of a fit, given that I had VIOLATED the recommended assembly order. Man, talking about frustrating. 

Once I managed to get a halfway decent alignment of the windows with the fuselage, the wing, and the cowl, the final touch was to cut a length of stretched sprue to serve as a radio antenna.  I cut the sprue at an angle to match the somewhat “aerodynamic” antennas found on Super Cubs and mounted it on the top of the wing. I then brush-painted the antenna with Testors steel.


This was a nice diversion from the military aircraft and armor kits I normally build. The kit is impressive when built up, and is a great addition to anyone’s collection, especially if you want an eye-catching piece of aviation history with a bright color scheme! I highly recommend this kit to anyone with a little modeling experience.


1.      “Piper PA-18,” Wikipedia, July 2009.
“The Piper PA-18 Super Cub,” , July 2009.
Van Aken, Scott, “Revell 1/32 PA-18 Super Cub,” Modeling Madness, July, 2008.

Blair Stewart

August 2009

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