At a time when every soaring pilot was saving his coins to buy a
"Supership with 30:1 L/D," Paul Schweizer dropped the 1-26 bomb. Bomb
was almost the result at first as it soon became known as the "Poor
Man's 1-23." SOARING magazine classed it as being capable of limited
soaring, but adequate for silver badge performance. Schweizer kept
hacking away at the 1-26 production and, realizing that there were some
pilots who could not afford even the lowly 1-26 in completed form,
offered a kit with the really difficult structural work done. The kit
immediately started outselling the factory finished product. It soon
became apparent that Paul was listening to the light drummer.
Ultimately the factory built 22 Standards and customers built 114 from
kits. The factory ship was designated as the Standard and the Kit was
designated as the A Model.
Empty weight of the Standard was 348 pounds with a maximum gross weight
of 575 pounds. Flown at 500 pounds, the minimum sink was 2.5 fps at 30
mph. Maximum L/D of 23:1 came at 44 mph. At 575 pounds minimum sink
was 2.6 fps at 32 mph with maximum L/D at 48 mph. The A Model had an
empty weight of 355 pounds, but many of the kit versions probably
weighed closer to 375 pounds due to changes in bulkheads and formers by
the builders to make them stronger.
Schweizer wanted to upgrade the 1-26 in keeping with trends in
sailplanes and aircraft construction but without changing the basic
design or performance. The B Model was produced with metal covered
wings and some refinements for pilot comfort and visibility. Along with
the metal covered wings came another 25 pounds in both empty weight and
maximum gross weight. The minimum sink went up to 2.7 fps and maximum
L/D was 23:1 at 49 mph.
The C Model was the kit version of the B. It never enjoyed the
acceptance of the A Kit with Schweizer selling only about one-third as
many as the factory finished product. Along with the C came a multitude
of extras or options such as fiberglass nose, wheel cover, stick boot,
swept tail, oxygen rack, adjustable rudder pedals, and fairings. A
completed but uncovered version also was available.
The D Model was not just a facelift but was a major modification with
pilot comfort being foremost. The D Model also sported balanced dive
brakes with larger spoilers, a lower nose profile, adjustable seat, much
better visibility, especially on tow, and a metal, monocoque nose.
Empty weight crept up, again, to 400 pounds with a maximum gross of 700
pounds. Minimum sink was now 2.9 fps with maximum L/D (still at 23: 1)
coming at 52 mph. A metal turtle deck and a new canopy seal made for a
much quieter ship.
The E Model has all the features of the D plus a larger canopy and all
metal monocoque tail cone. The fabric is gone except for the movable
control surfaces and assembling has been made easier with fewer little
parts to get lost. Empty weight is 445 pounds with a maximum gross
weight of 700 pounds, Maximum L/D still stands at 23:1 but comes at 53
mph. Minimun sink is 2.9 fps and comes at 40 mph.
In talking with several 1-26 pilots who have flown all the models I find
one thing in common: each feels that there is not a whit of difference
in the performance of the ships over a wide range of flying. Naturally
the very light Standard or A Models will climb a bit faster than the
heavier ones and by the same token the higher wing loadings will give
the heavier ships a faster penetration speed. I suppose that a light
ship would have a slight edge under very weak conditions and an E Model
with maximum weight would be superior in very strong conditions. But
throughout a contest, they come out about even.