Cessna introduced the 177 Cardinal in 1968 and, production only lasted for ten years. They were seeking a replacement for the popular 172 and thought this would be an excellent time to introduce a new model. The popularity of the 172 was too much for the Cardinal combined with poor performance and handling problems.
The primary issue first reported in 1968 is pilot induced oscillations or “porpoising.” These are a series of pilot corrections to airplane reactions that result in sustained or uncontrollable swings. Cessna addressed the problems and offered a no-cost warranty to existing owners to fix these problems.
Cessna’s goal for the Cardinal is to allow the pilot an unobstructed view when turning but resulted in a too far forward CG since the pilot is seated ahead of the leading edge. The first model year featured a lighter engine, the Lycoming O-320, which was vastly underpowered but did address the forward CG issue. The Lycoming O-360 engine replaced the O-320 in 1969 but retained the fixed-pitch propeller, which helped reduced production costs.
The Cardinal uses a cantilever wing design, which eliminates the lift struts for better visibility. A stabilator replaces the standard horizontal stabilizer to resolve issues of elevator control at low airspeeds. The raked windshield and aft-mounted wing allow for better upward visibility combined with the cantilever wing make this airplane a photographer’s dream!
Cessna began production of the Cardinal RG in 1971 and featured an electrically powered hydraulic retractable landing gear. The horsepower increased from 180 to 200 with a new Lycoming IO-360 engine because of the added weight of the landing gear system.
Compare the differences of this 1973 Cessna Cardinal RG to the above photo of the 1968 Cessna 172 “Skyhawk.” Notice the different wing designs, windshields, and landing gears. I’ve only found one picture of a Cessna Cardinal RG so far, and I’ll add any new photos to this post if I see others.