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The initial idea was to mate a turboprop engine to the Model 206 Skywagon, but result didn't have adequate range; a new design was required.
The first Cessna Grand Caravan from March 1986 is pictured here.
Sales of the initial Model 208 were modest at first, until FedEx entered into discussions with Cessna to build a Caravan variant optimized for the parcel business. The result was the "Model 208A Cargomaster", which was a pure cargolifter, with the passenger windows and left rear door deleted, plus a large cargo pannier fitted to the belly. It also featured an increase in tail height by 15 centimeters (6 inches), longer engine exhausts to keep hot exhaust gases off the pannier, and Bendix-King avionics. FedEx ordered 177 Cargomasters, and the Caravan series took off.