Aeronca C-3 (1932) NC12496

  • Capacity: two
  • Length: 20 feet   
  • Maximum speed: 85 mph
  • Cruise speed: 70 mph
  • Range: 200 miles
  • Service ceiling: 14,000 feet

Probably the smallest of the member-owned planes Civil Air Patrol flew during World War II, the 1932 Aeronca C-3, NC12496, weighed less than 900 pounds and was used as a military courier. A second wartime C-3, NC12405, was flown by the Ohio Wing.

The C-3 was a high-wing wire-braced monoplane with somewhat comical lines that could be mistaken for no other aircraft. Sometimes called “the flying bathtub,” it featured side-by-side seating for two with removable panels to enclose the cockpit for cold-weather flying.

Blessed with a popularity that allowed continuing improvements, the six-year production run spanned 1931-1937. In 1935 the C-3’s lines changed drastically, losing the long-familiar “razor back” in exchange for a full cabin layout with heater and wheel brakes.

This 1932 model, powered by the two-cylinder Aeronca E-113 35-horsepower engine, is shown here outfitted with running lights and radio.

Maj. Ron Finger is a freelance illustrator and member of the Minnesota Wing’s Crow Wing Composite Squadron. The longtime military and aviation history buff’s earliest aviation painting assignments appeared as covers for in-flight magazines.

Later, Minneapolis defense contractors like 3M, Control Data, Honeywell and Unisys kept Finger busy with painting assignments for aircraft, submarines, ships, and tanks. In 2012 he joined the Air Force Art Program, where a select pool of artists are assigned “art missions” to document specific U.S. Air Force Operations.

Painting “to honor those who serve” is the motto on the art program patch and defines Finger’s continuing efforts as an aviation artist. His new staff position as CAP’s national artist feeds his passions for researching and creating art that portrays historical emergency service. A pet goal is to complete paintings documenting every aircraft type Civil Air Patrol has flown. 

This is the fifth painting in Finger’s second series of depictions of vintage CAP aircraft.

More of Finger’s CAP artwork can be seen at

Silvered Wings No. 1 – Fleetwings Sea Bird F-401

Silvered Wings No. 2  Curtiss-Wright 15-D Sedan

Silvered Wings No. 3  Rearwin Sportster 7000

Silvered Wings No. 4 – Cessna U-3B “Blue Canoe”