The Van's RV-3 is a single-seat, single-engine, low-wing kit aircraft sold by Van's Aircraft. Unlike many other aircraft in the RV line the RV-3 is only available as a tail-wheel equipped aircraft, although it is possible that some may have been completed by builders as nose-wheel versions. The RV-3 is the genesis design for the rest of the RV series, all which strongly resemble the RV-3. The RV-4 was originally developed as a two-seat RV-3.
The architect of the line of Van's aircraft, Richard VanGrunsven, designed the RV-3 in the late 1960s after experience flying the Stits Playboy amateur-built aircraft. The RV-3 started out as an attempt to maintain the Playboy's layout and concept but to improve it in every regard. The RV-3 was designed to have light handling, aerobatic capabilities, fast cruise speeds and short field STOL capabilities. The RV-3 was also designed from the start for serious travel and as such carries 30 US gallons of fuel giving it a range of about 600 statute miles. The design horsepower is 100-150 typically using a Lycoming O-235 or Lycoming O-320 powerplant, although some builders have fitted RV-3s with more powerful engines.
The RV-3 uses a NACA 23015 airfoil on a constant chord wing. Construction is semi-monocoque of predominantly 2024-T3 aluminum sheet. The wings are built around an aluminum I-beam spar with a lighter rear spar. The aircraft has plain flaps operated by a handle. The main landing gear is attached directly to the welded steel engine mount and consists of tapered, sprung steel tubes. Construction time for the RV-3 is reported to be 1300 hours for a first time builder.
The very first RV-3 built by VanGrunsven won "Best Aerodynamic Detailing" at the 1972 EAA Oshkosh Convention.
There is an RV-3A model, but its designation does not follow VanGrunsven's normal system, where "A" models are nosewheel equipped versions. An RV-3A is an early RV-3 that has undergone rear spar and wing root upgrades as described in Van's publication CN-1. Due to ongoing structural concerns the production of RV-3 kits was suspended in 1996. Continued customer demand for the single seat design resulted in VanGrunsven engineering a new wing for the RV-3. Production of kits was re-started a few years later. New aircraft completed since the wing redesign and aircraft that have been retrofitted with the new wing are referred to as an RV-3B.
By December 2011 272 RV-3s had been completed and were flying.
Specifications (Vans RV-3B)
Crew: one pilot
Capacity: no passengers
Length: 19 ft 0 in (5.85 m)
Wingspan: 19 ft 11in (6.12 m)
Height: 5 ft 0 in (1.54 m)
Wing area: 90 ft² (8.35 m²)
Empty weight: 750 lb (340 kg)
Loaded weight: 1,100 lb (498 kg)
Max. takeoff weight: 1,100lb (498kg)
Powerplant: 1 × Lycoming O-320 fixed pitch, 150hp (111 kW)
Maximum speed: 207 mph at sea level (335 km/h)
Range: 595 statute miles at cruise 75% power at 8,000 ft (963 km at cruise 75% power at 2,500 m)
Service ceiling: 23,500 ft (7200 m)
Rate of climb: 2,050 ft/min (10.5 m/s)
Wing loading: 12.2 lb/ft² (61 kg/m²)