Meet The IA-46 Ranquel

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Pablo Edronkin

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The IA-46 Ranquel was an excellent STOL design that deserved better luck.

Designed and built entirely in Argentina, the Ranquel was created to serve as a liaison and observation aircraft among the armed forces and its design was based on the concept of the PA-12 albeit incorporating several enhancements.

There are only a few Ranquels flying today but that makes little justice to an otherwise very good airplane because its virtual extinction is due to endogenous conditions of Argentina and not design flaws of the plane: The disastrous economy that has plagued the nation for decades, the failure of the manufacturing company and the ensuing lack of spare parts turned this very interesting machine into an expensive proposition to restore and maintain.

The remains of a Ranquel.
The remains of a Ranquel.

But used as it should, it is as bit as good as a bush flyer as the PA-12 or PA-18; however, it is even better than those popular models in at least two areas; First, it is exceedingly roomy and in fact, it should have been built as a four seater instead of having been fitted with just three, like the PA-12; moreover, the Ranquel's seats are not intended for midgets but for full-size, large pilots and occupants.

The tail section of a dissasembled Ranquel.
The tail section of a dissasembled Ranquel.

And secondly: A few survivors of air crashes owe their lives to the fact that they were flying Ranquels when they suffered their accidents; its construction is so sturdy and solid that some accidents are only survivable on a Ranquel, and not in comparable bush planes.

Bear in mind that the Ranquel was designed and constructed as a military aircraft, a weapon, and so it is a superb wilderness flyer and is currently being used as the basis for a number of experimental aircraft.

You can see here the sturdy structure of the IA-46.
You can see here the sturdy structure of the IA-46.

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