The 172 as introduced in 1956 was powered by a Continental O-300-D six-cylinder engine
rated at 145 HP turning a fixed-pitch propeller. Gross weight was 2200 pounds. The original
172s had an upright vertical stabilizer and a straightbacked fuselage which, to the
contemporary eye, looks dated. But that wasn’t so in 1956 and Cessna sold 1100 172s that
The 172A, with the vertical tail swept, was introduced in 1960. The new empennage was
heavier; rudder power was reduced, and directional stability was degraded somewhat. Why
did Cessna do it?
Marketing, evidently. And the result is attractive, with the lines of the fastback fuselage
blending well with the swept tail.