When Piper introduced the PA-24 Comanche in 1957, the company marketed it as a low-cost first-time buyer’s aircraft. The low-wing PA-24-180 Comanche with a 180 HP engine is somewhat more complicated to fly than a Cessna 172. As with the 172, the PA-24-180 Comanche is a four seat all-metal aircraft, but the gear is retractable and it uses a variable pitch propeller that requires more work on the pilot’s part than does a constant pitch propeller that never needs adjusting in flight. The same is true with the Comanche’s manually operated flaps. Piper manufactured 1,143 of the PA-24-180 Comanche airplanes.
Piper began selling the Comanche 250 in 1958. It had a 250 HP engine that provided more power than the earlier model. Carburetors were standard, but some planes came equipped with a fuel-injected engine. In later years, Piper included an optional 90-gallon auxiliary fuel system and replaced the hand brakes with toe brakes. Soon after, they also replaced the manually operated flaps with electrical flaps.
In 1965, Piper made the PA-24-260 available, most of which were fuel-injected. The company manufactured variations of the 260 until 1972, by which time they had sold 1,029 of the airplanes. Because of a larger, 260 HP engine and increase in propeller speed, the PA-24-260 is more powerful and faster than its predecessor, the Comanche 250.
Continuing with Piper’s desire to create ever more powerful aircraft, the Comanche 400 offered a 400 HP engine, a three-blade propeller, and greater fuel capacity for longer range and more power than earlier versions of the Comanche.
Piper sold 2,000 of the PA-30 Twin Comanche in its various forms. The first models were four-seat PA-30s that included minimal avionics and engine equipment. The PA-30B offered more, including third side windows and optional propeller and wing deicing equipment, a heated windshield, seating for six, and wing-tip fuel tanks. A turbo version (the PA-30B) came next, and though it had the same engines, they were manually controlled Rajay turbochargers, which when operated correctly, offered additional power. Operated by an unqualified or careless pilot, the engines were susceptible to sudden failure. Next from Piper came the PA-30C Twin Comanche. The turbo version of that aircraft was the fastest in the twin-engine line.
Piper then created the PA-39 C/R Twin Comanche with counter-rotating propellers. This was to correct the sometimes fatal control problems that occur when both engines’ propellers turn the same way. When the left, or critical engine, fails at a high angle of attack or at slow speed, the airplane will likely become uncontrollable.