The Kitfox Retro Radial

If you want to attract pilots to your airframe, go for a classic vintage look. That’s what the folks at Kitfox Aircraft have done with the Radial S7 Super Sport.

The black and yellow tailwheel design sports a radial bump cowling and wheel pants that look as though they were spirited off a Gee Bee Racer. At this summer’s Oshkosh, the newest member of the Kitfox litter was often surrounded by people who wanted to know if it was a vintage design.

“In a manner of speaking, it is a vintage design,” said John McBean, co-owner of Idaho-based Kitfox Aircraft. The Radial S7 Super Sport belongs to McBean and Kitfox aficionado turned salesman Mark Smith.


John McBean and Mark Smith

“The Kitfox has been around for more than 20 years,” he continued. “The radial bump cowling was trade dress for Kitfox for years. It was designed for radial engines that never came to pass. When we had the opportunity to do a bump cowling on a radial engine of a Kitfox, it just kind of fit.”

The Radial S7 Super Sport was made possible with the creation of the Rotec radial R-2800. “It is a seven cylinder, 110-horse design,” McBean explained. “It is becoming a more popular engine and we were getting a lot of inquiries about it, so we decided to develop a firewall forward kit.”


The airframe for the Radial S7 is the same as the Kitfox Super Sport, but with a few modifications.

“It has a slightly different wing,” said McBean, “which we are affectionately calling a Laker Leading Edge or LLE. It is kind of a composite leading edge on the wing that smoothes out the first 12% of the wing chord.”

IMG_3090 The landing gear also has been modified. “The Rotec radial likes a longer prop on it, so the Super Sport stands 4 inches higher than other Kitfox. Because of this we had to design a new landing gear,” he said. “It is more similar to the landing gear you find on Cubs as it is a bungee style gear, but we are using a die spring instead of bungees. The wheels and brakes are Grove 600-6 which are standard on the Kitfox Series 7 Super Sport.”

The decision to put the new firewall forward kit on a tailwheel airplane was a calculated one, said McBean.

“The original Kitfox was tailwheel but we’ve had more tricycle gear airplanes at the shows and we didn’t want people to think that we stopped making the tailwheel airplanes,” he said. “We do both tricycle gear and tailwheel designs.”


The panel was also designed to play up the vintage angle. The instruments are white-faced gauges but there is also an AirGizmo panel dock where a GPS can be mounted. “That’s where old and new meet,” McBean said.

The airplane is available as a kit. According to McBean, the Rotec radial is not yet ASTM approved for Light Sport Aircraft, which means that the Radial S7 Super Sport would not be able to be certified as an S-LSA, but could be certified as an E-LSA.

Judging by the number of people gathered around the Radial Super Sport during Oshkosh, it looks like the latest littermate is a hit.

“I think we hit the mark with the radial engine and the retro look,” said McBean with a grin. “This airplane has a lot of sex appeal, a lot of muscle. It’s drawn lots of attention. It’s working better than the bikini girls.”

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  1. Greg says

    Saw the Kitfox this summer with the Rotec radial this summer at Oshkosh and loved it. Very sharp airplane. It made it easy to decide which plane I want to build.

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