“Mechanix Illustrated” CORBEN BABY ACE – N9050C
O.G. “Ace” Corben designed the “Baby Ace” for homebuilders in the early 1930s. He also designed a two-place version, the “Junior Ace” and a version powered by a Model A Ford engine, the “Super Ace”. The Baby Ace is constructed of welded steel tubing with fabric covering. The wing, a Clark Y airfoil, has spruce spars and ribs with fabric covering. The aircraft is a “parasol” design—a single cantilever wing above the fuselage.
Simple to build and with good flying manners, the parasol configuration was popular as a light plane design in the 1920s and 1930s. One of the best-known parasol designs is the Fokker DVIII, a German single-seat fighter that appeared in the final months of World War One. Though it saw limited action, the DVIII reportedly flew well, and it might have replaced the very successful Fokker DVII biplane if the war had not ended. Biplane fighters would continue to dominate the world’s military and civilian air fleets until the late 1930s; the monoplane parasol DVIII may have been ahead of its time in 1918.
It was Corben’s Baby Ace that first brought the EAA to national attention. EAA Founder Paul Poberezny and several other early EAA members built the Baby Ace that hangs in the AirVenture Museum. Poberezny wrote a series of construction articles published in “Mechanix Illustrated” magazine in May, June, and July of 1955. The articles included information about the Experimental Aircraft Association, and they attracted wide interest and brought a huge increase in membership to the two-year-old organization.
One of two Baby Aces in the EAA museum, the Mechanix Illustrated Baby Ace is powered by a 65-horsepower Continental engine. Variants of Corben's Baby Ace have probably been fitted with a wider variety of engines than any other homebuilt, including automobile engines—early Ford engines were common—and a wide range of aircraft powerplants, from early radials to modern light aircraft engines, up to 125 horsepower.
The Baby Ace and its Ace cousins have remained popular through the years. Kits or plans are still available for some the aircraft.