Piper PA-48 Enforcer


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Piper PA-48 Enforcer

The Piper PA-48 Enforcer is a turboprop-powered light close air support/ ground attack aircraft. It was an ultimate development of the original World War II North American P-51 Mustang. The Enforcer concept was originally created by Cavalier Aircraft in response to the US Air Force PAVE COIN program, but Cavalier did not have the political clout or manufacturing abilities to mass-produce the Enforcer, so the program was sold to Piper in 1970.

In 1971 Piper built two Enforcers by heavily modifying two existing P-51 Mustang aircraft and fitting them with Lycoming T55-L9A turboprop engines (along with numerous other significant modifications). One airframe was single seat (called the PE-1 and FAA registered N201PE) and the other was a dual-control aircraft (called the PE-2, registered N202PE). Prior to the PAVE COIN evaluation, N202PE was lost in a crash off the Florida Coast. Although the Enforcer performed well in PAVE COIN, Piper failed to secure a United States Air Force contract.

For another 8 years Piper lobbied Congress to force the USAF to officially re-evaluate the Enforcer. Eventually in the 1979 defense bill $11.9 million was allocated for Piper to build two new prototypes and for the USAF to perform another flight evaluation. Since the Enforcer was never in the Air Force inventory, it was not given an official military designation and did not receive an Air Force serial number. Instead, it carries the Piper designation PA-48 and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) registration numbers N481PE and N482PE.

By the time the PA-48s were completed, they shared less than ten percent of their structure with the P-51. The two PA-48s were tested during 1983 and 1984 at Eglin AFB, Florida, and Edwards AFB, California. As in the PAVE COIN tests of 1971, the PA-48s were found to perform well in their intended role, but the USAF again decided not to purchase any.

Of the prototype aircraft produced, three of the four still exist. The original PE-1 is disassembled and in storage. One of the PA-48s, N482PE, awaits restoration at Edwards Air Force Base. N481PE has been fully restored and resides in the 'Prototype Hangar' at the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio.

( Wikipedia )

 ENGINE1 x Lycoming T55-L-9 turboprop, 1831kW
  Take-off weight6350 kg13999 lb
  Wingspan12.60 m41 ft 4 in
  Length10.40 m34 ft 1 in
  Height4.00 m13 ft 1 in
  Wing area37.9 m2407.95 sq ft
  Max. speed650 km/h404 mph
  Ceiling11465 m37600 ft
  Range1480 km920 miles

Comments1-20 21-40
Doug Snyder, e-mail, 18.11.2015 22:07

I am attempting to locate some of the PA-48 Enforcer engineers /test pilots who commented on these pages. I would appreciate any contacts. you may contact me directly at snyderp160@gmail.com.


V.R."Sam"Bass, e-mail, 06.05.2015 02:00

Want someone to learn about tail wheel driving? Put um in a Aero Commander 500 to 680 and they will learn about "Lead-Lag" real quickly.


Randy morehead, e-mail, 04.02.2015 22:44

2014 we put the finishing touches on N482PE at edwards for the base museum


Matthew Harrison, 15.09.2014 22:36

Yeah, your right. Most civilian pilots don't know how to fly tail draggers. And imagine a ground loop with full wing tip fuel tanks.


Sven, 28.03.2014 01:34

Oh my word! How long is it since a realy intelligent comment was left on this site.Of course your right,its why vintage aircraft the world over are crashed by 3000 hour jet jockeys and C130 drivers.


Melvin McNeil, e-mail, 27.03.2014 22:58

The only thing bad about the enforcer now is that it is a tailwheel airplane. In the early 70-80s they were a number of miliatry pilots that flew a tail wheel airplane. Now a days I willing to bet nobody in the military has over 5 or 10 hours of tailwheel time. A tailwheel airplane like the Mustang or Enforcer in the hands of a novice tailwheel pilot is nightmare waiting to happen. If you do not believe me call on of the warbird guys like Stallion 51 in Kississimee.Fl and they can tell you storys of jocks getting humbled real fast by a simple taildragger much less a Mustang.... A good modern coin plane would be the PC-9-12 series from pilatus. The Navy and USAF are using the t-6 texan II which is a PC-9 built with a agreement between Pilatus and Beechcraft.


Dan Fahey, e-mail, 06.11.2013 02:26

A modern day Enforcer would have saved a lot of lives in Afghanistan. US Army and Air Force had the wrong mix of aircraft. No matter how fast a Jet is getting from Base. Still too long to provide support against a 7 hour loitering COIN aircraft using CAS tactics. Today they can make then quiet, faster, maneuverable and use less fuel. Land anywhere there is a decent flat spot.


Terry Dieno, e-mail, 05.05.2013 21:48

We are nearing completion on restoration of P-51D Mustang LOU IV. We are considering the feasability of building a PA-48 Enforcer 2 seater Experimental aircraft. Interested in any and all comments on the feasability of this project. thanks


Peter Wass, e-mail, 04.05.2013 05:33

amazing plane, to think the US is buying the Super Tucano, when they have a plane, sitting in a museum, that (with some updates) would probaly be more powerful, and give the Tucano a competitor on the export market


Anonymous, 26.04.2023 Peter Wass

The problem with the PA-48 Enforcer was not the plane but the US Congress and the leadership of the US Air Force not wanting to have any new CAS planes built in America, that is why our pilots are being forced to fly the Plane that is made in Argentina.


LUIZ CAMACHO, e-mail, 14.03.2013 18:06

So hard to see the US Air Force not use the Enforcer in CAS missions in Vietnam . Was the Douglas Skyrider so excelent ?


David L. Lawrence, e-mail, 11.04.2012 17:14

I was the chief test pilot on the 2 Enforcers that were built in the early 1980's. At the time this program was very controversial. A small team of folks at Piper Aircraft did an amazing job in building and testing these aircraft. The aircraft itself was in my opinion particularly suited for the Air to Ground roll because after 110 mils of depression of the gunsight you were looking at the cowling - typical depression for a dumb bomb was around 280 mils making consistent bombing scores a real challenge. Rockets were a different matter and the CRV-7's that were used were quite accurate and if I remember sight depressions were around 40 mils. Both of these aircraft survived (N481PE is in the Wright Patterson AFB Museum and N482PE is currently being restored at Edwards AFB where it will be displayed). The entire Enforcer Team at Piper Aircraft in Lakeland, Florida stands to be proud of their efforts during this program. A guy named Tom Cook did an outstanding Job to make the program happen.


Don Molner, e-mail, 26.11.2011 03:23

As for the Enforcer: I was an Air Force Weapons guy involved with some testing of this platform at Eglin, AFB in 1982ish. I remember a couple of things from these tests. First, the USAF was not happy they were pushed by some Congressional members to conduct tests on this aircraft. Second, no CAS FIGHTER pilot (or any FIGHTER pilot) wanted to be stuck with a propeller driven acft - it was jets or something was wrong. Remember the fighter pilot at this time was ruling the USAF and they had (still have) some strong ego's. (Ever wonder why the $150M F-22 has an internal gun; this acft has tremendous stand off capability for a reason). For some, flying the 'Slow-V10 Bronco' and A-10 was slow enough and many of these guys did not like the slow and no AB jokes. No matter how well the Enforcer would or could have tested, we were going to 'make sure' this acft did not look good. We put 2 brand new (at the time) GPU-5A 30mm gun pods on this acft - I think we had 5" on ground clearance. This was the CAS guys weapons of choice (maybe along with an AGM-65) if you needed to put a hole in a tank. The pilot came back and reported; as he fired the guns, the acft about stopped in mid-air. This gun was intended to be flown on acft like the F-4E, and other heavier acft. From my vantage point, outfitted with a reasonable armament system, this aircraft today would have more CAS fire power per dollar than anything else we have in the sky. Back then, it was cold war days and counter-insurgency ops (less in South Amer) was not playing on the big screen. It was an easy sell to canx the idea.


FM2436, e-mail, 03.09.2011 19:00

I'd bet 8-12 PA-48 Enforcers with rockets and guns would have provided enough ground fire support and surpression againt the RPG rocket that was fired at and shoot down the CH-47 in Afghanistan. As I've mentioned previously, I'd bet the Army would love having around 400+ PA-48 Enforcers being flown by Army pilots in Afghanistan.


Tom Chytil, e-mail, 10.07.2011 00:27

For a full story on this aircraft, go to Wikipedia. The Air Force refused to assign a military pilot for the evaluation, so all testing for the military was done by civilian pilots.
The Air Force and Army were not interested in this aircraft.
It got as far as it did due to the efforts of a business man and a couple of Senator buddies who got the funds appropriated for manufacture of the prototypes.


al child (tom), e-mail, 18.04.2011 20:10

i was with avco lycoming stfd.ct.worked the test cells with ed pease test engr.worked the t55l9 engine .


Bradley Berntson, e-mail, 09.12.2010 20:04

I would like to find out about the dispossion of N482PE. Are there plans for restoration or for sale of the aircraft to private parties? Please advise if you have any information. Thank you


Loring, e-mail, 22.11.2010 08:42

I have the only known photos of the Enforcer's first test flight in Vero Beach April 29, 1971. My pics were published in the Vero Beach Press Journal on May 6, 1971.Anyone interested in seeing these pictures, please contact me directly.


Les Morrow, e-mail, 02.10.2021 Loring

Sir, I am looking for pictures and 3 views on the PA 48. I am intending to build a 1 /5 scale detailed radio control model for serious scale competition in 2022. I would be happy to pay for any photos that you might have to copy, or reimburse you for any expenses incurred in order to get the photos.

Thank you in advance,
Les Morrow
C: 806 281-0787


FM2436, 22.10.2010 16:49

I understand the importance of the US Army's helicopter fleet and the PA-48 can not be a replacement for an attack helicopter, but I'd bet for the cost of one Apache helicopter the US Army could buy six PA-48 Enforcers.


FM2436, 22.10.2010 16:38

In the early 80's, the mistake made by Piper was trying to convince the USAF to purchase the PA-48. Piper should have made their proposals to the US Army. I'd bet today, the US Army would love to have 400+ Enforcers flown by US Army pilot in the close air support role or strafing runs against the enemy in Afghanistan.

If I were Geoffrey Berger (Piper's current President and CEO) I'd have my design team dust off the blueprints to the aircraft and build 1 as quickly as possible and invite the US Army for a single aircraft airshow.


Don Bille, e-mail, 17.04.2010 08:49

Dear Ken,
I was the head electrician on the two Enforcers that were built in Vero Beach Fla. Number PE1 was a two seater that is on the ocean bottom about 1 /2 mile off Vero Beach. PE2 was a single seater that was tested by the air force. Although the pilot was injured, he healed up ok. Don Bille


1-20 21-40

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