Through their pushpull engine configuration the twin boom Cessna 336 and 337 were designed to overcome conventional twins' problems of poor engine out asymmetric flight handling characteristics.
Cessna called the layout concept Centre Line Thrust, as the nose mounted tractor and rear fuselage mounted pusher engine eliminated asymmetric handling problems normally experienced when one of a twin's engines fails. The concept was recognised by the US FAA which created a new centre thrust rating for pilots to be rated on the type.
The Model 336 Skymaster first flew on February 18 1961, but significant improvements to the design were made before production aircraft were delivered. Changes included more powerful engines, a larger fuselage with seating for six, and revised wing, tail and rear engine cowling. The 336 was delivered from mid 1963 and production lasted until late 1964 when it was replaced by the 337 Super Skymaster ('Super' was later dropped) which was released in February 1965.
The improved 337 introduced retractable undercarriage, more powerful 160kW (210hp) engines, a dorsal air intake for the rear engine, variable cowl flaps, repositioned forward engine and cowl for improved visibility, and higher weights.
Subsequent development resulted in the turbocharged T337 (first released in the 1967 model year, dropped in 1972 and relaunched in 1978), while the ultimate 337 was the T337G Pressurized Skymaster, introduced from August 1972.
Development of the 337 continued in France by Reims after Cessna production ended in 1980, resulting in the FTB337 Milirole, a military STOL version with underwing hardpoints. Cessna also built more than 500 337s as O-2s for the US Air Force, used largely in the Forward Air Control role.
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