Text and photos by Kai-Mikael Jää-Aro, with additional historical background by Martin Waligorski
There is a sad lack of civilian models on our modelling tables, in particular considering that there actually are quite a few kits available out there. One of my favourites is the Airfix model of the Piper Cherokee Arrow II, which isn’t a bad model at all, so I thought that the time had come to do a superdetailed Piper. As a step towards this I took the opportunity at the 2004 air days at Tullinge airfield (sadly, probably the final days of the airfield) to make a serious walkaround of a Piper.
The Piper Cherokee family
The Cherokee is the common name for Piper’s PA-28 family of aircraft models, which was introduced in the early 1960s and is still under production by the New Piper Aircraft. The Cherokee has been one of the company’s most successful products with over 40 variants. It has been widely used for general aviation and pilot training around the world.
The initial PA-28-150 and PA-28-160 Cherokees were introduced in 1961, intended as replacements for the older PA-22 TriPacer and Colt models. Unlike the PA-22 series, the new aircraft was of low wing design and metal construction throughout, featuring a streamlined fuselage which provided room for two pilots and two passengers in side-by-side arrangement.
The Cherokee proved to have excellent flying characteristics. Control response was reassuringly slow and predictable, systems were simple, and the aircraft almost impossible to stall.
Piper has proven to be masters in adapting the same basic airframe to a variety of models, installing engines ranging from 140 to 235 hp, fixed or retractable landing gear, fixed or constant speed propellers, extended wingtips and even turbocharging.
Following the first two production models, the long-span 235 hp Lycoming-powered Cherokee 235 was introduced in 1963 initiating the high-end series of the Cherokee. The two seat trainer PA-28-140 entered the marketplace in 1964.
Subsequent variants were the Cherokee -180B, -180C and -180D models, the PA-28-235C, PA-28-140 Flite Liner two-seat trainer, PA-28-180F, PA-28-235E, PA-28-180 Cherokee Archer and PA-28-235 Cherokee Pathfinder.
The PA-28-180D model was also modified with retractable landing gear, giving birth to the PA-28R Cherokee Arrow series. PA-28-180 Cherokee Challenger and PA-28-235 Cherokee Charger introduced a longer fuselage stretched by some 5 inches and enlarged tail. Both these features were subsequently adopted in PA-28R-200 Cherokee Arrow II production.
All early production models had a rectangular wing popularly referred to as ”Hershey Bar”. This was changed with PA-28-151 Cherokee Warrior which introduced a revised wing with tapered outboard section, also adopted for all subsequent variants: PA-28-181 Cherokee Archer II and PA-28R-201 Arrow III, PA-28-236 Dakota, the PA-28-161 Warrior II, PA-28-201T Turbo Dakota and PA-28-161 Cadet.
By the beginning of 1980s, Piper went into serious financial troubles which eventually lead to its bankruptcy. Among the few final models were the PA-28RT-201 and -201T Arrow IV with a new all moving T-tail.
New Piper returned the Archer II, Arrow and Dakota to low-rate production in 1994. By then the Cherokee family name had been dropped so that the ”new” models were officially just called Archer, Arrow, Warrior and Dakota. Archer II was followed in 1995 by the PA-28-181 Archer III, which featured a new, streamlined cowling. Similarly, the the PA-28-161 Warrior III, replaced the previous Warrior model. Archer III, Arrow III and Warrior III are still in production today.
The depicted subject, SE-GVA, is a PA-28R-201 Piper Cherokee Arrow III. The difference against the Arrow II is that the III has the new enlarged wing, but the rest of the aircraft is, as far as I can tell, identical between the two marks.
Piper Cherokee Arrow in Detail: Part 1
Wonderful weather. Note the antennae on the fuselage and top of the tail. The tail is characteristically corrugated.
The navigation lights on the left wingtip.
This is the fuel filler in the left wing, there is an identical one in the right wing as well. I am standing by the wing leading edge, the top of the photograph is thus towards the tail of the aircraft. The paint is worn, but the screws in the wing are actually rusty.
The bonnet, with quick fasteners. Note inlets and outlets in the lower part.
A slightly lower perspective. Apparently the paint is bubbling loose in front of the outlet, is there a hot spot there? Oil and dirt on the landing gear.
Engine air intake, some amount of dead insects here. Paint worn off propeller leading edge.
Spinner. Note landing light and intake below it.
Markings on the propeller.
Piper Cherokee Arrow in Detail: Part 2
Nose landing gear.
The nose gear well, rather overexposed at the edges as I used a flash to get the detail inside the dark well. A surprising amount of cruft in here, but most of it probably for the engine rather than the landing gear. The front of the aircraft is towards the bottom of the picture.
The left main landing gear. The plane does not have very much in the way of ground clearance, so I had to lie down, stick my arm under the wing, point the camera and hope for the best.
The gear well is very dirty.
Interestingly, the main wheel well is not quite as dirty.
The characteristic stiffeners on the underside. I’m not sure what the blade-like thing is, an antenna or what? Note the rubber seal between fuselage and wing.
The tip of the tail fin with position light and attachment point for antenna. I don’t know what the meshed opening is for.
The antenna wire has apparently been (at least partly) covered with a plastic tube, but it has degraded and broken up.
The incidence of the stabilizer can be adjusted. Note the manufacturer’s data plate in front of the stabilizer.
The backend of the aircraft. The stabilizers have the same kind of beige rectangles as the wings, I don’t know what they are for.
Same as before, but from a lower position.
The fuel filler on the right wing, here looking towards the wing leading edge.
Piper Cherokee Arrow in Detail: Part 3
The engine cover on the right side. A cover for something (oil?) and something further down that also has been scuffed a bit and thus probably can be opened.
Low on the right side, engine exhausts and air intake.
The UP vector on this picture is not the best I’ve chosen, but I tried to take a picture parallel to the no-slip area on the wing.
Some very worn parts, on the left a handle to grab while climbing onto the wing, on the top right the door opener.
The interior, photographed through the windscreen. The interior has a very strong feeling of a 1970s family car.
Going in. I didn’t think of checking—is that an ashtray in the door? Note sunshades.
The dashboard. Still very much car feeling.
Pedals. Remember how the rudder was slightly offset?
The pedals on the pilot’s side.
The fire extinguisher(powder) under the pilot’s seat. I have one exactly similar in my flat. Is that lever the handbrake?
The passenger seats seem to be covered in a different material than the front seats—presumably the front seats get more worn and have been reupholstered. Behind the passenger seats is an open storage area.
This article was originally published in IPMS Stockholm Magazine in September 2004.