Cessna 150 Models
Strictly speaking, in the eyes of the FAA, all Cessna 150s and 152s are derived from, and are essentially the same airplane. Cessna made numerous changes to the airplane over its 27 year history, and like other aircraft manufacturers, they assigned different model designations to most years of production.
Unfortunately, Cessna did not use a logical progression of either serial numbers or model designations. It is difficult to match up model years and serial numbers without a cheat sheet.
There were changes to the airplanes every model year, although many of them were cosmetic. We can divide the model differences into three categories: designation changes, cosmetic changes, and design changes.
FAA “Year” vs Cessna “Year”
Before we start, there could be a difference in the “year” designation of your Cessna 150. The FAA determines the aircraft’s “year” for all paperwork and regulation as the year the airplane was built. Cessna on the other hand, used “model year” like your favorite car. For example, if the airplane rolled off the assembly line in November 1973, the FAA says it’s a ’73, but in Cessna’s eyes, it’s a ’74.
Over the airplane’s 27 year production history there were exactly 31 different model designations.
The first model was simply called the Cessna 150. That model ran from the first airplane in 1959 through model year 1960. Beginning with the 1961 model year letters were added each year, ’61 150A, ’62 150B, ’63 150C, ’64 150D, ’65 150E, ’66 150F, ’67 150G, and ’68 150H.
In 1969 Cessna skipped a letter, there is no “150I,” the 1969 airplane is the 150J. They continued on with 150K in 1970, then used 150L from 1971 through 1974, and 150M 1975 through 1977.
In 1970 Cessna introduced the 150 Aerobat, and designated these models with a leading “A”, with the remainder the same as each model’s designation, A150K, A150L, A150M.
Starting in 1966 Cessna began assembly and manufacturing in France, for the most part these airplanes were the same models as in the US, but French built models lead with an “F”, F150F, F150G, F150H, F150J, F150K, F150L, F150M. French Aerobats were designated FA150 and the model letter. One model unique to France was the 130 HP Rolls Royce/Continental equipped Aerobat, which was designated the FRA150L, and FRA150M. The list is rounded out by two 1972-1973 models manufactured in France but assembled in Argentina (a total of 47 airplanes) These were called the A-150L and A-A150L.
When Cessna introduced the 152, they stopped re-designating models by year. There are only 4 designations for all 8 model years of 152s (1978 – 1985). They are 152, A152 for the Aerobat, and F152 and FA152 for the airplanes built in France.
The paint schemes and interior appointments of the airplanes were changed every model year. Like car makers, Cessna offered standard and deluxe models, and even special editions. Upgraded models were called “Commuters” and upgraded 152’s were designated 152II’s. Special editions were offered that promoted flying, included the “Discover Flying” model (popularly known as HoJo because it used 1970’s era Howard Johnson’s colors), and the 1977 patriotic themed “TakeOff” models. Airplanes built in France or exported had different paint schemes as well. All told there was a bewildering array of more than 60 different paint schemes. The Cessna 150-152 club has been gathering data on the original colors, layouts and model choices for several years now.
Though there were dozens of individual design changes model year by model year, some operational, others cosmetic, (members can see an exact list of year by year changes.) there were only three instantly recognizable visual design changes.
1959-1963 Profile (fastback straight tail )
Between 1959 and 1963 the airplanes had a fastback fuselage and a straight upright tail like other Cessna’s of the era. These are considered the “Classic” Cessna 150’s
1964-1965 Profile (Omnivision straight tail )
In 1964 Cessna introduced a rear wrap around window, and called it “Omnivision”. 1964 and 1965 airplanes have Omnivision, but kept the straight tail.
1966-1985 Profile (Omnivision slant tail )
In 1966 Cessna redesigned the tail to sweep back, giving the airplane a “going fast while standing still” look. All Cessna 150’s from 1966 on kept this same basic look.
The 152 uses a 110 horsepower Lycoming O-235 engine instead of the 100 horse Continental O-200 used by all 150’s. The cowl has a narrower profile giving the 152 a slightly different front profile, though the side profile is essentially the same.
There were many more subtle visual changes, the most obvious is when Cessna changed the main landing gear from flat steel to a tubular steel design in the 1971 model year. Another change was the landing and taxi lights which were moved from the wing to the nose, and back to a different place on the wing as the years went by. The instrument panel was changed in 1967 from a classic round top 1930’s style to a more modern IFR rectangular top. Since the 1966 model was the only one with both the slant tail and rounded panel, it is the easiest to spot for astute observers, followed closely by the 1964 and 1965 models which have Omnivision and straight tails.
What is the “Best” Model of the Cessna 150-152?
Well that depends on your definition of what is the “best.”
From a pure performance and capability standpoint, the 1977 French built, 130 HP Rolls Royce/Continental, A150M Aerobat would be considered the “Best” Cessna 150/152. Unfortunately, only 75 were built, and most of them remain in Europe.
A Cessna 152 Aerobat could be considered the second “Best” Cessna 150/152, but this does not take into account pilot’s preferences for style. Except for the Rolls Royce Aerobat, the Cessna 152 with its 110 horsepower engine is the largest and most powerful of all the airplanes, by a slim margin, and of course the Aerobat model is the strongest and most capable of the airplanes, by every criteria except payload.
It is more reasonable to rate the “Best” Cessna 150/152’s by basic style. When we rate the airplanes this way, we can generalize that the later the year, the better, with a few exceptions. We can divide the airplanes into four basic groups as follows:
1. Straight tail fastback: 1959 through 1963 models. Of these the 1963 is the most capable and desirable. These are the most basic Cessna 150’s, manual flaps, bench seats, and no rear wrap around window.
2. Straight tail with Omnivision: 1964 and 1965 models. Of these the 1965 model is slightly preferable, because it has individual bucket seats, instead of the bench type seat in the 1964 model. These are the last Cessna 150’s with manual rather than electric flaps.
3. Slant tail 150’s with Omnivision: 1967 through 1977. Generally, these airplanes were improved every year, with only one caveat: Airplanes after 1970 have the landing/taxi light mounted on the cowl instead of on the wing. Extra vibration on the cowl shortens filament life, so this is considered a poor choice. (Cessna finally moved the lights back to the wing in 1984.) Improvements to this range of models include: A larger, standard format panel introduced in 1967, Tubular landing gear in 1971, vertical stabilizer and rudder made more effective in 1975. The last 150, the 150M had all these (and also the cowl mounted lights). The Aerobat was introduced in 1970, all Aerobats would be considered more desirable than their equivalent standard model. A 130HP Rolls Royce /Continental equipped 150 Aerobat was produced in France between 1972 and 1977, (a total of 216 airplanes) these are the highest performance airplanes of all Cessna 150-152’s.
4. The 152: All essentially the same, with incremental improvements. Like the 150, the Aerobat would be “Best”. Both 1984 and 1985 models have the landing/taxi lights in the more desirable wing location.
Which Models of the Cessna 150-152 are the most plentiful?
Of all the Cessna 150-152 models, the 1966 model year is the most plentiful, 3,067 1966 Cessna 150’s were produced. This was the first year of the slant tail, the larger baggage area, and electric flaps.
During the airplane’s 27 year history, the years of 1966 through 1978 were the “good times” for Cessna sales. More than two thirds of all Cessna 150-152’s were built during this 12 year period.
1978 was the first model year of the Cessna 152, and the most 152s were produced that year, 2,812. Each year production of the 152 declined, until the last model year (1986) when only 25 were produced (all in France, US production stopped in 1985, with 116 airplanes produced.)
Which Model of the Cessna 150-152 is the rarest?
Only two A152 Aerobats were built 1984, making them the rarest of all Cessna 150/152s. As far as we know, both airplanes are still flying!
Serial number A1521026 was originally registered in the US as N758ZB, but it was exported to South Africa.
Serial number A1521027, was originally registered in the US as N758ZC, but was exported to Brazil.