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REIMS ROCKET FR.172H

Reims Rocket FR.172H (Cessna) 203 at the Ulster Aviation Society

Built in 1972 by Reims Aviation in France under a licensed agreement with Cessna, eight Reims Rocket FR.172H aircraft upon arrival in Ireland were assigned to the Advanced Flying Training School which would be responsible for the introduction of the type in IAC service.

The eight were later assigned to Army Co-Op Squadron at Gormanston in Co. Meath and subsequently assigned to No. 204 Sqn of the Irish Air Corps in Baldonnel.

Serving for 47 years until the type's retirement in October 2019 the ‘Cessna’s’ as they were referred to is the longest serving aircraft operated by the IAC.

Having a six-cylinder, fuel-injected, air-cooled, Rolls-Royce Continental IO-360D engine (built by Rolls-Royce in the UK under an agreement with Continental Motors), the engine is capable of producing 210bhp.

 

In its operational lifetime, it would have been used on various mission and  roles, such as Irish border surveillance (originally bought for £20,000 each during the early part of the Troubles in 1972), cash escorts, target towing operations, wildlife surveys, parachute training and general transportation flights.

Reims Rocket FR.172H (Cessna) 203 at Baldonnel taxiway

Strengthened hard points under each wing meant the ‘Cessnas’ could each carry 24 Matra 37mm unguided air to ground rocket projectiles in rocket pods.

 

Air to ground firing exercises were undertaken over the Air Firing Range at Gormanston.

 

By the late 1970s, air firing had ended and the rockets pods had been withdrawn from use.

Image: MARK J. CAIRNS

UAS Volunteer, John Dunphy, reattaching the wing cables on the Reims Rocket FR.172H (Cessna) 203
Inside the '203' cockpit looking at the instrument panel on the Reims Rocket FR.172H Skyhawk II at the Ulster Aviation Society

Image: MARK J. CAIRNS

UAS Movements Team collect the Reims Rocket FR.172H Skyhawk II from the Irish Air Corps in Baldonnel
Manufacturer: Reims Aviation

Model: Reims Rocket (Cessna)  FR.172H Skyhawk II

Registration: 203
Reims-Rocket-Illustrations.webp
UAS Location: Hangar 2

Served with: Irish Air Corps 204 Sqn

Maximum Speed:  153mph

Cruise Speed:  145mph

Engines: Rolls-Royce Continental IO-360D, six-cylinder, air-cooled

Range: 655 miles standard range, with 825 using long-range fuel tanks

Rate of Climb
: 198m/min at 80mph with 4 people

Service Ceiling:
14,000ft

Length & Height: 8.23m x 2.67m

Wing Span: 10.97m

Loaded Weight: 
1134Kg

In Service: 1972-2019