The Piper PA-24 Comanche was designed and introduced by Piper Aircraft in 1958. Produced from 1957 to 1972, the Comanche is a single-engine low-wing civil utility aircraft with an all-metal and semi-monocoque construction. It could accommodate four to six persons in flight and fitted with a tricycle retractable undercarriage.
On June 20, 1956, the first of the two prototypes of the Comanche was completed. Several production versions were produced. On October 21, 1957, the initial production variant of the Comanche conducted its maiden flight.
Several production versions were Designated as PA-24-180, and were powered by a Lycoming O-360-A1A engine rated at 180 horsepower. It was designed with a swept tail, an all-moving stabilator, and manually-actuated flaps. The normal fuel capacity of the variant was 60 US gallons. The PA-24-180 had a cruise speed of 116 to 139 knots and a travel range of 700 nautical miles. 1,143 PA-24-180s were built in total.
In 1958, the second version designated as PA-24-250 was introduced. It was powered by a Lycoming O-540 engine with a maximum thrust of 250 horsepower. The variant had a maximum cruise speed of 160 knots. Early PA-25-250s were the same PA-24-180; built with manually-actuated flaps and had a fuel capacity of 60 US gallons. In 1961, newer versions were equipped with auxiliary fuel tanks. In 1962, electrically-operated flaps were developed.
In 1964, Piper Aircraft introduced the PA-24-400. The version was produced between 1964 and 1966. It was powered by the Lycoming IO-720 engine rated at 400 horsepower. The large-displacement, horizontally-opposed eight-cylinder piston engine was built specifically for the PA-24-400.
The aircraft was fitted with a three-bladed propeller and had a maximum fuel capacity of 100 to 130 US gallons. The PA-24-400 had 185 knots cruising speed and 194 knots top speed. Although similar to the other versions of the PA-24, the 400 has a tougher and firmer structure, mainly in the tail. It was designed with an additional nose rib in the vertical stabilizer and in the all-flying tail.
In 1965, the Comanche 260 was introduced. It was fitted by the Lycoming IO-540 engine with a produced thrust of 260 horsepower. 1,029 260s were sold in total.
The Piper Comanche was produced until 1972 with a total number of 4,857 aircraft built. It was widely used by private aviators and flight schools.