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Stampe SV-4c
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Fighting Air Command Pilot's Notes for Stampe SV-4c N901AC

by Randy Wilson
Copyright 1997 by Randy Wilson

These are my pilots notes for the Stampe SV-4c, which was the dual-control light biplane used by F.A.C. (Fighting Air Command) pilots who were getting ready to fly the WWI replica planes. Again, I have not had time to reformat this into HTML, so please excuse the old format for now.


The following notes and observations are intended to aid other
Fighting Air Command pilots in checking out safely in this
aircraft as well as providing information to those just
interested in this plane.  Operating procedures and flight
characteristics for this aircraft have been determined from study
of existing manuals and many hours of operation from both grass
and pavement, in both the single and dual configuration.  This is
a revision and update of previous notes for this aircraft.

General Information

This aircraft is a two-place, production French military trainer
built in 1948, although its design dates back to the early
1930's.  It has an all wood structure and was used as an
aerobatic trainer by many air forces well into the 1950's and
even later.  The engine is a four cylinder inverted air-cooled
inline Renault 4P03 engine of 145 horsepower.  The aircraft has
very light controls and is really very easy and a pleasure to
fly.  It is fitted with mechanical wheel brakes, which operate in
an unusual fashion, and a full-swivel, non-steerable tailwheel,
and it can be operated with care from paved runways.  Its
lightness does, however, make it a handful in a gusty crosswind,
especially on pavement.  There being no electrical system,
starting is by on-board compressed air or hand.


Refer to the Cockpit Layout diagrams and Aircraft Data Table
during the following discussion.  The aircraft normally drips
some oil near the left main wheel when not flown for a while, so
don't be alarmed by this.  After a normal preflight inspection of
the exterior of the plane, including the flying and landing
wires, turn the fuel on by pushing the fuel on/off rod forward in
either the front or back cockpit.  With the mags off, pull the
prop through about 6 blades to check for any oil in the
cylinders.  Check the fuel quantity by looking at the sight gauge
to the left under the upper wing center section, or climb up and
visually check the fuel level in the tank in the upper wing
center section.

Open the left engine cowl to check the oil reservoir.  A dipstick
is attached to the screwed-in cap with markings in liters, a
liter being a little more than a quart.  I would have at least 5
liters for any extended flying, and at least 4 under any
circumstances.  The book says that the engine uses a quart an
hour at cruise, so expect it to use oil.  Use 60 weight
non-detergent unless otherwise advised.  If 60 weight is not
available, 50 weight may be used, but do not use detergent oil. 
While the left cowling is open, check for any unusual oil
leakage.  The air valve for the starter should be open, i.e.
turned fully counter clockwise.  Open the right engine cowl and
check for any fuel or oil leaks.  If all is normal, and the
engine is cold, pump up fuel pressure to 60 on the externally
mounted gauge by actuating the push/pull knob on the fuel pump on
the right rear of the engine.  You can operate the pump and see
the fuel pressure gauge from the right side of the engine.  If
the engine is warm and the pressure is at least 20, don't pump it
up.  Close the engine cowlings.

Check that the belts and cushions in the front cockpit are secure
and that the front mag switch is on BOTH.  If you are going to
use the air starter, check the air pressure gauge on the left in
the front cockpit.  Minimum pressure for a start is about 8. 
Also check that the small valve is closed (full clockwise) and
the larger round valve is open (full counter-clockwise). 
Finally, the toggle switch marked Contact Passenger should be in
the Branche position, as this enables the rear mag switch.  Due
to leaks in the air system, the starter usually will not hold a
charge for more than a day.


If the engine is cold, after having pumped up the fuel pressure
and ensuring that the mags are off, pump the throttle two or
three times, then pull the engine through 5 or 6 blades, to prime

Now on into the rear cockpit.  The large lever to the right of
the rear seat is for seat height adjustment.  Take your weight
off the seat, depress the button on top, and move the lever up or
down.  In the front cockpit the seat adjustment is the large
round knob on the floor.  Turning it adjusts the front seat
height.  To adjust the rear rudder pedals, pull up on the small
black knob on the floor on the OPPOSITE side of the pedal you
wish to adjust.  Release the knob and let the pedal click into a
detente.  Note that there are stirrups on the rudder bars to keep
your feet from falling off them while inverted.  DON'T MASH THE
STIRRUPS DOWN.  Put your feet in them.  I plan to remove these
stirrups as soon as possible, as they are always getting mashed. 
The aerobatic harness includes a crotch strap and there is a
second, separate safety belt that looks like it belongs on a
stagecoach harness.

Set the parking brake by pulling back on the brake lever and
engaging the locking pawl.  If there is enough air pressure in
the reservoir, you can use the air starter.  The air starter
handle is on the far right side of the rear instrument panel. 
With the mags on and throttle cracked, pull the safety catch down
and pull the air starter handle out a short ways.  Let go of the
safety, and use both hands to gently but firmly pull the air
starter handle out until the prop spins and the engine fires.  If
the prop does not turn and the gauge shows adequate air pressure,
reposition the prop to the normal hand starting position and try
again.  Also make sure that the air starter does not spin the
engine backwards, which it can do occasionally.

If the engine is hot when you try to start it, turn the fuel and
mags off, open the throttle and pull the prop backwards through
at least 12 blades.  Be careful, as the engine has kicked back
when hot even with the mags off.  Turn the fuel and mags on,
reset the throttle to open a bit and try a start.  If the air
system is depleted, the engine can be propped fairly easily, but
the compression is fairly high and the prop very light, so use
care.  Being a French engine, you will note that it turns
backwards from American ones.  Again, if the engine is hot, you
will have to back it up to get it unflooded.

Once the engine starts, check for oil pressure, which is a little
slow to come up.  All of the gauges have minimum, maximum and
normal ranges marked.  See the Data Table for more details.


The Stampe has a hand brake lever which actuates both main wheel
brakes together.  This brake lever should be used very sparingly
while moving, to prevent a nose-over.  In normal operations, use
it only as a parking brake or when running up.  Since the plane
has a rudder bar, there are no brake pedals for each side, but
each wheel can be braked individually by pressing the rudder bar
past full rudder on that side.  The brakes are actuated by cables
and can be a bit grabby, so be careful at first.  Again, as
practice for the WWI replicas, try to operate the Stampe as
though it did not have brakes.

The tailwheel is full swiveling and not connected to the rudder,
so airflow is necessary past the rudder to steer, but the
aircraft handles very easily.  In a strong crosswind, however,
taxiing can be very difficult.  Visibility from the rear cockpit
is better than in any of the WWI replicas.


The engine is fairly closely cowled, so try to point into the
wind for runup or any prolonged idling.  The oil temperature
gauge is mounted outside and left of the front cockpit.  If the
weather is cold, be sure that the engine has had a chance to warm
up.  Set the parking brake or use chocks for runup.  Use about
1500 rpm for runup or whatever the brakes will hold and check
both mags.  If the engine is very hot, you will note some mag
roughness, so as soon as possible, try to let the engine cool

Check the elevator trim on the left side of the rear cockpit.  I
normally fly with it most of the way forward, between 4 and 5.


If everything is normal, release the brake handle and slowly
apply full throttle.  Due to the direction the engine turns, you
will need to add left rudder to correct for torque.  The tail
will come up almost immediately, and the controls are so light,
be careful not to over lift the tail and put the prop into the
ground.  Also remember that the ailerons are both light and
effective, even at low speeds, so don't over control there,
either, as there is not much wingtip clearance to the ground.

Climb out at 100 kph indicated with full throttle until you are
at pattern altitude, then reduce power.  I think that the
airspeed indicators are running a little slow, so I will try to
use the work "indicated" when I mean what I see on the
instrument, as opposed to what the books say.  Don't climb out
too steeply on hot days, as this will worsen the engine cooling. 
About 1850 rpm seems like a good cruise setting once you have
reached your altitude.

Control Responses

As I have already mentioned, the Stampe has very light, nicely
balanced and effective controls.  New pilots will have more
problems with over control and will need to be careful at first
on takeoff and landing.  Don't, however, be afraid to use a lot
of rudder, as it is necessary to keep you straight on takeoff.

Air Work

The book says the plane stalls at 65 kph (40 mph), and the
indicated speed is less than that.  The stall is definite with
some buffet, and recovery is quick.  In loops or slow rolls, the
engine quits as soon as it is inverted, as there is no inverted
oil system and the inverted fuel system has been disabled. 
Aerobatics are not generally authorized, but if this happens,
retard the throttle, fly on through the maneuver, and the engine
should pick up again in a few seconds.  Don't pump the throttle,
as this may flood the engine and delay a restart.  Erect spins
are comfortable and recovery normal.  The emergency spin recovery
technique works fine.  A good coordination exercise is a series
of wingovers, where the changing attitude and airspeed require
constant smooth changes in the control inputs.  If you get the
nose too high, the engine may quit here, also. This will normally
be demonstrated during checkout.


There is really only one problem in landing the Stampe, and that
is getting it slowed down enough.  On a normal approach, I would
try to be no faster than 80 kph indicated on short final.  If the
wind is very light, you may even have to slip in at that speed,
as the plane will float a long way if not slowed down.  First
landings should be full stalled three-point ones.  In preparation
for landing the WWI replicas, however, we will than practice
power-off, tail-low wheel landings, as this is the technique used
in the tailskid aircraft.  The replicas do not float anything
like the Stampe, but this practice gets you really used to seat
of the pants, heads out of the cockpit landings.

Remember, don't plan on using the hand brake lever to help slow
down on landing, as this can cause a nose-over.  If brakes are
absolutely necessary, apply them very, very carefully and use as
little as possible.  Holding the throttle firmly closed during
roll out will reduce the engine idle to a minimum and help slow
the plane.  You will also find that once the tailwheel is down on
grass, the plane will slow fairly rapidly.


If the engine is hot, say above 75 degrees C, point it into the
wind and let it cool down at around 800 rpm for a minute or two
before shutting down.  This will also make restarting easier.  To
shutdown the engine, turn off the mag switch and slowly open the
throttle all the way.  When the prop stops, close the throttle. 
Shut off the gas if the plane won't be flying again soon.  There
is an idle cutoff control, but it sticks and could cause your
engine to die with the throttle closed, so we aren't using it,
and it has been safetied off.  The inverted fuel system lever has
also been safetied off, as it will flood the engine if used in
non-inverted flight.  Also, what looks like a mixture lever next
to the throttle, is for altitude compensation only, and can not
be used to kill the engine.  You might note that it can be moved
forward only when the throttle is forward.


As originally configured, the instructor sat in the front cockpit
and operated the engine starting controls.  These have since been
moved to the back cockpit in this aircraft, to make solo flight
easier.  This also explains the presence of the Contact Passenger
switch in the front cockpit, which can disable the rear or
student's mag switch if necessary.  The mag switch handle is
actually a key which can be removed when in the off position. 
These keys are normally left in the aircraft.  Don't loose them!

An engine fire extinguisher system was originally fitted but the
extinguisher has since been removed.  The controls for the system
are located just below the air starter handle in the rear

The fuel tank is located in the upper wing center section.  If a
ladder is not available, it is possible to refuel by carefully
standing on the longeron on the side of the front cockpit and
having the fuel hose handed up over the front of the wing.

We have copies of the original airframe and engine manuals for
the Stampe, in French of course, if anyone wants to learn more
about the aircraft.  I also have some other documents which give
the history of the type, again in French.  Please check with me
for access to any of the above.

Aircraft Data Table

The following Data Table has been compiled from the Stampe
Technical Manual and other published sources.  The original
specifications are in metric units, matching the markings of the
instruments.  American units are also listed where possible.

Fuel Pressure
  Minimum   200 gr/cm2  (2.85 psi)
  Normal    225  "      (3.20 psi)
  Maximum   250  "      (3.55 psi)

Fuel grade - 80/87 octane or higher
Fuel capacity - 90 liters  (23.76 gallons)
Fuel consumption at 2100 rpm - 32 lit/hr (8.4 gal/hr)

Oil Pressure
  Minimum   2 kg/cm2  (28.4 psi)
  Normal    3   "     (42.6 psi)
  Maximum   3.5 "     (49.7 psi)

Oil consumption at cruise - 1 lit/hr (1 qt/hr)

Oil Temperature
  At Cruise      60 degrees C
  Full Throttle  75   "
  Maximum        90   "

Engine Speed
  Normal Maximum  2400 rpm
  Red Line        2520  "

Starter Air Pressure
  Minimum Summer   8 kg/cm2  (114 psi)
  Minimum Winter   20  "     (284 psi)

Weights for N901AC
  Empty Weight   1195 lb.  (includes engine oil)
  Gross Weight   1700 lb.

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All material not specifically credited is Copyright by Randy Wilson. All rights reserved.
E-mail to Randy Wilson: avhistory@rwebs.net