Project Description





Cessna C-165 Airmaster

Role:   Personal Aircraft

National Origin: United States

Manufacturer:  Cessna

First Flight: 1939

Primary User: Private pilot owners

Number Built: 39

The 1938 Cessna models C-145 and C-165 in the Airmaster line were compact high-winged cabin monoplanes with seating arranged for four. Typical of the many proven Cessna designs, the C-145 and C-165 were cantilever monoplanes that dispensed with all drag-producing struts and braces as normally seen on other airplanes; because of this and other tricks of design these new Airmaster slipped through the air at uncanny speeds and delivered a rather high performance with modest power.

Powered with the 7 cyl. Warner Super Scarab engines of either 145 h.p. or 165 h.p. one can only heap praise on these 2 airplanes for the way they performed. They were relatively fast, sure-footed with good response, and they were quite at home in the higher altitudes; normal flight was always rock-steady, and the chummy cabin seemed to envelope one with friendliness. The last of the Airmaster was built in 1942.

With America’s entry into World War II, most of the civilian Howards were commandeered by the military. The Army used them as officer transports and as ambulance planes. They were used variously as an officer’s utility transport and for instrument training. The Howard was and is an excellent instrument platform, very stable and solid, especially compared to modern light aircraft.

The type certificate for the model C-145 was issued 10-1-38 and the C-165 was approved about a year later; about 80 (about half being C-165 models) airplanes in this series were built by the Cessna Aircraft Co. in Wichita, Kan. Both models were approved for land, sea, photographic, freight, ambulance, and on skis. (Above text excerpts from Joseph Juptner, U.S. Civil Aircraft Series.)

NC32455 was first owned by Robert Cummings. Bob Cummings was an American actor. He was a film star from about 1933 to the early 1940s. He learned to fly in the mid-1920s. Bob went on to own several aircraft that included a 1936 Porterfield (NC17029) that he named “Spinach.” Then he purchased a 1937 Cessna Airmaster (NC18550) which was named “Spinach II.” To follow on to the 1937 model Bob bought on of the last Airmasters built (NC32455), that was apply named “Spinach III.” During World War Two he became a flight instructor and sold war bonds to contribute to the war effort. He was most well know for The Bob Cummings Show which ran from 1955 through 1958. Playing glamour photographer Bob Collins in the series. Newspaper and magazine articles of the period made much of Cummings’ seeming agelessness, which the actor chalked up to careful dieting, plenty of vitamins and exercise. He had starring roles in a few films in the 1960s. Unfortunately, Cummings fell victim to Parkinson’s disease in the 1980s and died at the age 82. In his prime, Cummings was one of those rare film actors who managed to retain his fame and popularity even though he made relatively few films of importance.

NC32455 joined the museum collection in April of 2020.

General characteristics

  • Crew: one, pilot
  • Capacity: 3 passengers
  • Length: 25 ft
  • Wingspan: 34 ft 2 in
  • Height: 7 ft
  • Wing area: 181 sq ft
  • Airfoil: NACA 2412
  • Empty weight: 1,400 lb
  • Gross weight: 2,350 lb
  • Max takeoff weight: 2,350 lb
  • Powerplant: 1 × Warner Super Scarab, 165 HP at 2,100 RPM


  • Maximum speed: 169 mph
  • Stall speed: 45 mph
  • Range: 725 miles
  • Service ceiling: 19,300 ft