Round Fantasies

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For now Scalebird’s P-36A replica really looks the part with a Verner radial. All they need now is a baby V-12 for a P-40 look-alike.

Modern round motor fans are romantics for sure, so it shouldn’t be a surprise to find the compact Verner radials displayed on equally emotional airframes.

In fact, one of three U.S. dealers for the Czech-built round motors—Scalebird—is squarely in the business of developing retro-airframes, including the P-36A replica front and center in their AirVenture booth. Seen as a fuselage-only at previous AirVentures, the fighter replica now has finished wings and ailerons and is looking close to flight.

This Hatz Bantam is just the right size for its 7-cylinder Verner radial. Scalebird, Myers Aviation and Brahn Sport Aircraft are Verner’s three U.S. dealers.

On the engine front, Sam Watrous, Scalebird principal and Verner dealer, say that Verner has temporarily stopped production of the 3- and 5-cylinder engines strictly because demand is so high for the 7- and 9-cylinder engines that they must concentrate on those. Verner is absolutely flat-out building the bigger engines and they simply don’t have the time—or supplies—to build the smaller engines at this time, but they will resume production as soon as possible.

Like everyone else, Verner is feeling the current supply line pinch. Their local Czech foundry closed forever due to Covid, for example. A replacement foundry has been found, but of course some time was lost in the switch to the new supplier.

Generally, however, Watrous says, “It’s real easy being a Verner dealer” because of good product and communication practices by Verner, plus the market is ripe for their small radials. Besides the usual Hatz, Kitfox and WW-I replicas Watrous is finding antique airplane owners are seeking ways to use the larger Verners as the original engines lose viability due to lack of parts.

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