By Howard Levy
Reprinted with permission from
KITPLANES magazine, April 1996 issue
Aerocomp, Inc., based at Merritt Island, Florida, unveiled its four-place Comp Monster kit airplane in April at last spring's Sun 'n Fun fly-in, powered by a four-cylinder, two-stroke, 110-hp Hirth F-30 engine. It arrived on a ferry permit and was not completely finished.
But problems with the Hirth engine, including a seizure, let to it being replaced by a 180-hp Lycoming O-360-A1A from a 1969 Cessna Cardinal driving a Sensenich 76x57 metal propeller. The newly powered Comp Monster, complete with an interior and attractive paint, was flown to Oshkosh late last July with 66 flight hours.
Partners Ron Lueck and Stephen Young had initially turned out the aircraft on production tooling in six weeks, and 400 labor hours. The 2800-mile Merritt Island-to-Oshkosh round-trip flight was conducted at a gross weight of 2800 pounds at a cruise speed of 115 mph during 24.3 flight hours.
"The Comp Monster was developed as an easy-to-build aircraft using composite structures for strength, light weight and a long service life," Lueck says. He and Young have some 18 years of experience with aerospace composites. Lueck has built 14 composite aircraft and was co-designer and builder of four all-composite Air Shark amphibians.
Comp Monster is primarily built in unidirectional, bi- and triaxial E-glass with Divincell foam cores and vinylester resin. "Carbon and Kevlar reinforcements are added where ultimate stiffness and strength are required, such as Kevlar at floats and wheel gear hardpoints, and aft of the engine pickup," Lueck said. Carbon is employed in the spar carrythroughs, and at the end of the fuselage for the tailwheel spring in the wheeled aircraft.
The 37-foot 7-inch span, 6-foot 2-inch chord wing employs a modified Clark-Y airfoil. It uses an 11.1-inch I-beam spar at 30% chord that is made with solid foam core and fiberglass. Biaxial-weave cloth is used in the strut pick-up points and in the area of the spar attachments. Unidirectional glass is applied in the spar caps, and triax fiberglass cloth is used in the shear webs.
Ribs - a total of 18 - are premolded in E-glass and vinylester. The full-span 9-foot 3-inch chord ailerons are cut out of the wing.
Planning for Options
Lueck and Young designed the Comp Monster and its cowling to accommodate any engine between 110 and 250 hp, so a builder has a wide range of power and performance. The cabin is 3 feet 6 inches wide, 9 feet long, and 4 feet 3 inches high. Entrance is through a 36x30 inch, upward-swinging door on each side. A 180-pound-capacity baggage area, measuring 38x30x36 inches, is behind the rear seats. The seat substructure serves a partial bulkhead. Another bulkhead is at the fuselage midsection, and a third bulkhead is at the tailcone. The fin is part of the fuselage mold and contains spars at 25% and 60% chord. The horizontal tail spans 10 feet.
The Float Options
Comp Monster is available on wheels, floats or amphibious gear, which is the way it was shown at Oshkosh. Aerocomp produces the composite SuperFloats for Comp Monster and other aircraft in six sizes: 800, 1200, 1400, 1800, 2000 and 3000-pound displacements -- assembled or in kit form.
All floats have Kevlar reinforcement on the keel in event of an accidental wheels-up runway landing. The SF2000 series amphibious floats are presently fitted to the prototype Comp Monster, but the new SF30000 model will be available shortly for larger aircraft.
SF1600 through SF3000 floats have seven compartments and six ribs; SF800 to SF1400 have five compartments and four ribs. The amphibious gear systems use Matco wheels and hydraulic brakes with 5.00x5 tires. Tailwheels are 6-inch Matco and do not retract, thus serving as water rudders.
Mainwheels protrude only 5 inches in the down position, and according to Lueck, will not result in the aircraft flipping over in case of a water landing with gear down. Activation is mechanical through a center-positioned lever.
An SF2000 float kit is priced at $3395 and is said to take 20 hours to assemble. Preassembled units have a $4495 price. The amphibian float kit costs $5890 and requires 50 hours to assemble. Factory assembled, the system sells for $6995. A conventional wheel gear kit is priced at $1995, including aluminum spring legs, 6.00x6 Matco wheel, tires, brakes and a spring-legged 8-inch tailwheel.
Building the Plane
Assembly of a Comp Monster kit is claimed to take 350 hours, not including finishing and painting or building the amphibious gear. The complete kit, including a zero-time 180-hp Lycoming, propeller, instruments and amphib gear is $43,900. An airframe kit less engine, propeller and instruments costs $19,900.
Like some other composite kits, components basically come as right/left and top/bottom sections. "Our kits require zero trim," Young said. "No additional shaping or fitting are needed. The windshield is also a first-class precut acrylic unit that will fit perfectly."
Comp Monster on straight floats is 1 or 2 mph faster than the wheeled version, Lueck says, but takeoff and climb are degraded. The wheeled model has an empty weight of 1390 pounds, can carry a 1410-pound useful load, and maximum gross is set at 2800 pounds. It takes off in a 350-foot run at 45 mph, climbs 1450 fpm at 62 mph at 2400 pounds gross, and cruises 128 mph on 70% power, the company claims. Top level speed is quoted at 134 mph, with approach speed at 60 and landing close to 40 mph, near the stalling speed.
In its amphibious mode, the Comp Monster weights 1726 pounds empty and has a useful load of 1040 pounds with its 2800-pound maximum gross weight. the takeoff run is 725 feet (the straight floats get off in 650 feet), rotation speed 45 mph, climb 900 fpm at 60-62 mph at gross weight. Approach and landing speeds are similar to the wheel model, as is the 600- to 700-foot runout. Young reports that the prototype has been operated in 2-foot seas.
As this was written, Aerocomp's order book showed nine Comp Monster 180 amphibian kits sold, one of which was destined for Malaysia. Lueck and Young had also just pulled the first fuselage of a six-seater out of the molds. This aircraft, with another door added to the right side, will be powered by a 220-hp Franklin engine with a McCauley propeller. Designated the Comp Monster 220, the larger airplane will be fitted with the 19-foot 8-inch SF3000 amphib gear and is scheduled to be seen at Sun 'n Fun, which begins on April 14 in Lakeland, Florida. The target price of the kit is $48,000 compete, the company says.
The Comp Monster 180 taildragger is undergoing flight tests, and there will be a trainer version - the Comp Monster 145 - on tricycle gear. Young and Lueck expect to attract a rather wide spectrum of interest in their line of kit airplanes.
[Aerocomp, Inc. note: Please refer to current Aerocomp informational materials, or contact the factory directly, for up-to-date pricing, and other information. Prices and specifications quoted in this article are subject to change.]
Feb 1996 -- SPORT AVIATION Magazine Comp Monster Report
(reprinted with permission)
Pilot Flight Report (General Aviation News & Flyer) - Feb 1996
April 1996 - Kitplane Magazine Flight Report
"10-Day Wonder" Comp Monster Build/Fly Report
Comp Monster Construction/Assembly Sample Photos
Comp Monster Kit, Engine, and Panel Photos
Comp Monster Price List
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