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The C-8A was an improved version of the C-8. Both the C-8A and C-8 were based on the Fairchild Model 71, a civilian type, and were very similar. The C-8A was alternately designated F-1A when used for aerial survey and mapping missions.
The C-8 series of aircraft was actually designed to accommodate an aerial mapping and survey camera designed by Sherman Fairchild, founder of the Fairchild Aircraft Co. Fairchild had been designing cameras for use in airplanes since the early 1920s and formed his own aerial mapping company in 1924. In the late 1920s, Fairchild began his aircraft company primarily to supply small passenger transport aircraft and specialized planes well suited for aerial mapping. Fairchild's airplane and cameras worked very well in the mapping and survey role, so the Air Corps basically ordered a stock Model 71 civilian version and renamed it using the Army schemes. It was assigned in both the cargo series as C-8A and photo reconnaissance series as F-1A.
The Army used the C-8 series of aircraft for mapping air routes within North America, particularly the northwestern United States, western Canada and Alaska. The C-8A could be equipped with floats for water operation and skis for winter. The plane was used throughout the 1930s and during World War II. Three civilian Model 71s owned by the Fairchild Surveying Co. were impressed into wartime service with the Army as UC-96s.
Engine: Pratt & Whitney R-1340-9 Wasp radial of 450 hp
Maximum speed: 138 mph
Cruising speed: 110 mph
Range: 900 miles
Service ceiling: 17,500 ft.
Span: 50 ft. 0 in.
Length: 33 ft. 0 in.
Height: 9 ft. 6 in.
Weight: 5,500 lbs. gross weight
Crew: 1-2 (pilot and camera operator)
Cargo/passenger capacity: Six passengers or approx. 1,200 lbs. of cargo
Serial numbers: 31-463 to 31-468
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