"The Flying Bathtub"
"Just the basics" was the name of the game with the Aeronca C-2. The pilot sat on a bare plywood seat with five instruments, a stick, and rudder pedals in front of him. If the pilot wanted a heater or brakes -- that cost extra. The little plane had odd, almost comical lines that earned it the nickname, "The Flying Bathtub." The C-2 wasn't fast, big, or powerful, but it was one of the first American airplanes to be affordable and economical and Aeronca sold 164 C-2s in 1930 and 1931, despite America's financial woes.
The first Aeronca C-2 wasn't called by that name at first. Created as a homebuilt by Jean Roche, a U.S. Army Air Service engineer at McCook (later Wright) Field in Dayton, Ohio, the Roche Original was built with the help of John Dohse and Harold Morehouse. In 1925, both plane and inexperienced pilot Dohse made their first flights. Soon after, Dohse and Morehouse left Dayton to pursue other interests and Roche was left to find a way to produce his little plane. In 1929, he sold his design to the Aeronautical Corporation of America ("Aeronca"). The Roche Original became the first of many Aeronca C-2s.
Powering the little plane was always a problem. First, Roche installed a borrowed Henderson motorcycle engine but it couldn't get the plane off the ground. Roche next turned to Harold Morehouse, who had designed a small engine to pump ballast air into a blimp. It was modified and installed for the Roche Original's first flights. When a crash destroyed that engine, another was fashioned by Roy Poole and Robert Galloway. When the C-2 went into production, its engines were cast elsewhere, assembled at Aeronca, and called Aeronca E-107s. The Museum's 1929 C-2 has an Aeronca E-113 36-horsepower engine that was used to power heavier Aeronca C-3s.