Model 12 – the same but different
The construction of the Model 12 is pure Pitts. If you have any knowledge of the Pitts design you would recognise the Model 12 as a larger, evolutionary development of earlier versions. The wings are fabric-covered, with spruce ribs and spars, a ply-covered leading edge and composite wingtips. Frise ailerons similar to the later Pitts S-2C are a fabric-covered aluminium structure – though mounted on three (not two) hinges. The fuselage is pure Pitts: a space frame of longerons and cross members made from 4130 chrome molybdenum alloy steel – a thin walled tube of high strength to weight ratio. There’s one diversion from the usual Pitts design of a pyramid of tubes connecting with the top wing spars: four cabane struts with stainless steel bracing wires connect the centre section of the top wing with the fuselage – similar to the Pitts Samson – and house a centre section fuel tank.
Of course the radial engine is what distinguishes the Model 12 from most Pitts Specials fitted with a flat four- or six-cylinder Lycoming ‘boxer’ engine. With its two wings and a round engine, the Model 12 design harks back to an earlier time. Whilst the Pitts Special was born out of a need for a low cost aerobatic aircraft, Curtis Pitts built his first radialengined Pitts for airshow pilot Jess Bristow in 1947. The Pitts Samson had a Pratt and Witney Wasp 450hp radial engine. The added power from the larger engine, a larger airframe, and of course the noise of a radial engine made it an extraordinary airshow performer.