The Cessna 180 was first flown in 1952. Utilising the same wing as the model 170B (including the slotted fowler type flaps originally designed for the model 305) the model 180 had a new fuselage with a taller more square tail profile. With a 230hp O-470-A engine, the new model was considerably more powerful than the model 170. Deliveries began in 1953, and rather than the business market originally envisaged, the 180 proved very popular as a bush aircraft.
Development of the A and B models incorporated minor changes. The 180C appeared in 1960 and incorporated a new rear bulkhead. The 1961 180D was not substantially different, but the E (1962) and F (1963) models featured changes to the fuel system. The 1964 180G had extra windows. In 1966 the seating was increased from four to six. Like many Cessna aircraft, the 180 was sold as a basic model, and deluxe version - the Skywagon II with factory installed avionics.
In July 1960, Cessna flew the prototype model 185 which was a strengthened 180 airframe using a 260hp Continental IO-470 engine. Externally it featured more windows and a taller tail with dorsal fin. With the rear bulkhead moved aft, it was capable of carrying six people. Deliveries began in 1961. Picking up the bush role of the 180, the aircraft was suitable for passenger, freight and utility work. It could be fitted out as one, two, four, or six seat configuration - or with quick change seats. In addition to internal cargo, a 136kg (300lb) fibreglass cargo pack could be installed beneath the fuselage. The aircraft was fitted with skis, floats and spray equipment to carry out a variety of roles. In 1965 the aircraft (185E) was uprated with the 300hp IO-520 engine.
In 1963 the aircraft was selected by the USAF for supply to a variety of Air Forces (including Bolivia, Costa Rica, Laos, Nicaragua, Turkey, and South Vietnam) under the MAP scheme. Given the designation U-17, the U-17A was a model 185C, and the U-17B had the 300hp IO-520 engine. The U-17C reverted to the O-470L. Production amounted to 262 U-17A, 205 U-17B, and 7 U-17C. A number of countries (such as South Africa) purchased Model 180's and model 185's.
In 1971 Cessna introduced the Ag Carryall, which was a 185 derivative intended purely for the agricultural market. Its popularity was limited and only 108 had been built when production ceased in 1979. Production of the model 180 ended in 1981 with over 6,000 aircraft produced. Model 185 production ended in 1985 with over 4,300 having been built.
New Zealand operators have imported a number of model 180 and 185 aircraft. Initially popular in the topdressing role, 27 260hp model 185's and one 300hp aircraft (ZK-DCY) were modified to carry a locally designed hopper, and at least 4 AgCarryalls were imported. Both model 180's and 185's were superceded for Ag-work by the introduction of the model 188 Agwagon in 1965, and the growing Fletcher population. The aircraft have also been well used for tourist work, and in the utility role. Of the 87 model 180's imported, 37 remain on the active civil register and 49 185's still feature on the register. Included amongst these is one (at least) of the ex-South Vietnamese U-17's, U-17B ZK-JGI (c/n 185-01989) based at Nelson.
Last Text Update:- 21 May, 2001
Last Picture Update:- 30 March, 2003
Specifications are for the Cessna 185 Skywagon
© 1997-2003 Phillip Treweek, all rights reserved