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ABSTRACT:     Interesting article/photo essay showing many interesting Twister variant built in the quarter-century leading up to 1973. Includes a list of names and addresses of Twister owners (circa 1971) and a 1949-era Twister 3-view.
Twister's Sisters
A Pictorial Collection of Knight Twisters, Now and Then
 
(From Homebuilt Aircraft (Air Trails), Summer 1971, Page 60)
 
By Staff

 
Designed by Vernon W. Payne back in 1928, the original Knight Twister offered only 15-ft span, 55-sq ft wing area and a converted 40-hp Ford auto engine. Nobody expected that combination to produce a docile mount, as indeed it didn't. What the miniature fighter-like flyer did provide was the inspiration for several generations of small, sport biplanes, now more numerous and popular than ever. In 43 years the tiny Twister has grown scarcely at all in size -- now 17-ft 6-in span, 73-sq ft area -- but its power, performance and popularity all keep breaking new barriers. Knight Twister builders are types to whom making modifications just comes naturally, so the next Twister you see will be different from the last. Air Trails' camera here shows some examples in photos made over the past quarter century.

2-place Knight Twister
RARE DOUBLE-TWIST 2-PLACER is this version (left) of the straight-wing Payne model. Its builder was the late USAF Col. Marion D. Unruh of Pretty Prairie, Kan., a longtime EAA enthusiast and booster. Untapered wings spanned 21-ft with M6 airfoil; ailerons in top only. Usually flown XC with auxiliary fuel in covered front cockpit, this unusual sport homebuilt is now displayed in the EAA Museum at Hales Corners, Wisc., with cover removed to reveal cozy pax compartment. Colors: international orange fuselage with white wings. This treasured machine was donated to EAA by Russell C. Brown of Emporia, Kansas.

Col. Unruh's Knight Twister
KANSAS TWISTER CAVU WX. N8635E could cover 150 miles in one hour, but claimed unchallenged world record for slowest construction: 29 years! Building by USAF Colonel Unruh was interrupted through frequent shifts of duty stations. Perseverance paid off, as shown by this photo, made in clear, blue skies over home fields of Pretty Prairie in 1966.

Peter Bowers with a Knight Twister
SLIP THIS ONE ON FOR SIZE. Our homebuilder hero Peter Bowers indicates (below) size of these birds.

Not only does the famous Knight Twister look like a real hot airplane, it takes a knowing hand not only to get the best out of it, but to tame 'er down a bit. We've heard tales of the guy who finished up a magnificent example, had her okayed for flight, then "lost" the bipe during taxi runs. Translated: groundlooped, ran off runway, chewed up some field lights and a wingtip, or two. Though she may prove a handful, in the hands of a skilled pilot, the perky little Twister is one going machine. Mr. Payne offers homebuilders plans for five different versions including a two-place "Co-ed". Fabulous family, indeed.

Charles Williams' radial-powered Knight Twister
NEWEST KNIGHT HAS RADIAL COWL. Super-size spinner, too. These cover fuel injected 180-hp Lycoming IO-360-B1E. Completed on 15 July '70 by builder Charles Williams, Mt. Prospect, III. Span 15-ft 13-in, length 12-ft 6-in. At 1,150-Ibs gross, cruises 175-mph; range 350-mi. Cost: $3,800, 2-yrs.

William Fischer Jr.'s Knight Twister
FISCHER SPECIAL KNIGHT TWISTER was made in 1953 by William Fischer Jr., of Galveston, Texas. When photographed at Midway Airport, Elkhart, Ind., in 1960 it was for sale by Aero Enterprises at $2,950 asking price. Engine 90-hp Franklin. Note spring gear. Pants, spinner would add class.

Edward 0. Effenheim's Knight Twister
ANCIENT KNIGHT. When this Twister was built, originally recommended 40-hp Ford auto engine was waived in favor of a 65-hp "Tank" engine. Later modernized with a Continental C-85 (here pictured) by Edward 0. Effenheim of Milwaukee, Wisc. Note low vertical tail on the Effenheim E-2.

Knight Twister
EDUCATED KNIGHT. Built by students of Buffalo's Burgard Vocational High School under supervision of Greg Ductor and Stan Fliss, sponsored by Warren Nelson. Engine 100-hp Lycoming; cruise 150-mph at gross of 1,050-Ibs. Extensive radio and lights. Wheel fairings were yet to be added.

L. Beliaeff's Knight Twister
CANADIAN-BUILT TWISTER by L. Beliaeff of Vedrun, Quebec, said to be first post-World War Two amateur-constructed plane in that country, ran into D.O.T. regs and restraints. Note cold climate cockpit cover and turtle deck mod. Tied down at Toronto Island Airport less engine and gear covers.

Tony Sablar's Knight Twister
SABLER'S ALMOST "STANDARD" Except for its lengthened nose Tony's Twister (left) is quite close to standard Knight Twister design: M6 airfoil; tapered wings. 85-hp Continental C-85-FJ engine. Top span 15-ft; lower 13-ft. Empty 540-Ibs. Gross 810-Ibs. Fuel 22 gal. Climb 800 fpm. Cruise 130-mph. Range 300.

FAITHFUL KNIGHT, TRUSTY TWISTER. Since completion at cost of $1,200 (1957 money, that is!) this pretty white Twister has served builder-owner-pilot Tony Sabler for many hundreds of trouble-free flying hours attending many fly-ins. Mr. Sabler is a chemical engineer of New Philadelphia, Ohio.

Lou Lowery and Merritt Roakes's Knight Twister and Jim Nagle's Knight Twister
F. W. Edison's Knight Twister
DIFFERENT DEVELOPMENT, DIFFERENT COLORS, but both Twisters. Darker Knight is N13N with bare legs dangling as during 1952 tests by New England builders Lou Lowery and Merritt Roakes. Now has streamlined spring steel gear legs with bell-bottom pants. Owned by F. W. Edison of Kalamazoo.

Jim Nagle's Knight Twister
STUB-NOSE WHITE KNIGHT is N1B as built and flown by Bob Baber used 85-hp Continental. Present proud owner is Jim Nagle, Kalamazoo, who lengthened nose to accommodate 160-hp Lycoming, added pants and larger spinner. Performance: 2,500 fpm climb, 150-mph cruise, 2-hr cruise.

Imperial Knight Twister
Imperial Knight Twister Imperial Knight Twister
Imperial Knight Twister
NEW "IMPERIAL" KNIGHT TWISTER -- this issue's cover plane -- is photogenic from all angles, proved by these photos, 2 up and 2 down. Don Fairbanks, flying instructor of Cincinnati, Ohio, is builder-owner-pilot. Following $4,700 investment and 2 years' building, N5DF was test flown on 19 June 1970. It was a favorite at Oshkosh six weeks later. Says Don, "You feel a little apprehensive when you put an airplane on display at Oshkosh because you know that many a critical eye is going to give your bird the once-over, and anything out of place is going to be noticed. But after being there and hearing those favorable comments, it's worth it." Note the unusual treatment of the registration number. The "5D" will double as racing number "50" (Reno, here we come!) while the "DF" portion serves as the proud signature of Don Fairbanks. A real beauty, for certain, with very fine workmanship throughout.

TECHNICAL NOTES: Fairbanks N5DF: Top span upped from 15 to 17.5-ft, lower from 13 to 15.5. Chord increased 6-in to 3-ft. Wing gap increased to decrease airflow interference and to improve thru-wing visibility. Fuselage length increased from 14.5 to 16-ft. Engine mount lengthened from 13 to 24-in. 135-hp Lycoming 0-290-D2 engine. NACA 21 airfoil. J-4 Cub Coupe gear. 31-gal fuel. Gross weight 1,125-Ibs. Climb 1,200-fpm. Cruise 140-mph. Cruising range 500 miles.

Pair of Knight Twisters
TYPICAL TWISTER PAIR, except these two look-alike Knights were built 14 years apart! Younger of the two (above left) has curved windshield, was first flown as the "Kilby Knight" in 1952. Last reported owners were E. O. Sundelin and Technical Sergeant Chuck Peterson.

OLDER TWISTER (above right) is distinguishable by its rectangular windshield. Both planes were powered by Continental C-85 engines. One above was introduced as the Anderson-Babcock Twister in 1938.

Knight Twister Builders (1971)

Three-view below is from Mr. Payne's design as it had developed by 1949.

Knight Twister 3-view

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