C-45 Spirit of West Texas High Sky Wing
KMAF, Midland, TX
|Role||Trainer / Utility|
|Power||2 × Pratt & Whitney R-985-AN-1 "Wasp Junior" radial engines, 450 hp|
|Length||34 ft 2 in|
|Height||9 ft 8 in|
|Wingspan||47 ft 8 in|
The Beechcraft Model 18 (“Twin Beech”) is the most modified U.S.-certified aircraft design, with over 200 FAA approved Supplemental Type Certificates on record. This twin-engine tail-dragger, used by forty-three countries, can accommodate up to 11 people, and has been utilized in such varied activities as aerial spraying, dry ice cloud seeding, firefighting, medical transport, navigation training, skydiving and skywriting.
One of the most recognizable features of the Twin Beech are the twin tail fins. It is, however, sometimes mistaken for the larger Lockheed Electra (made famous by Amelia Earhart). While smaller 330 hp or 350 hp engines were used in early models, the 450 hp Pratt & Whitney became the standard (one version actually had a 600 hp engine, but the added weight made it unacceptable). One interesting factory option was the installation of JATO bottles on each engine, which added about 200 hp per engine for 12 seconds.
When Lockheed began focusing on larger aircraft during World War II, Beechcraft took over many of their military contracts for a smaller aircraft. The production of the Model 18 continued for 33 years, the longest continuous production of a piston engine aircraft, and ended in 1970 with the last Model 18H going to Japan Airlines. Various versions of the Model 18 flew in the USAF (C-45 until 1963), USN (SNB’s until 1972) and the USA (C-45 until 1976) as navigation trainers, bombardier trainers and transport aircraft.
During and after World War II, over 4,500 Beech 18s saw military service—as light transport, light bomber (for China), aircrew trainer (for bombing, navigation and gunnery), photo-reconnaissance, and "mother ship" for target drones—including United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) C-45 Expeditor, AT-7 Navigator, AT-11 Kansan; and United States Navy (USN) UC-45J Navigator, SNB-1 Kansan, and others. In World War II, over 90% of USAAF bombardiers and navigators trained in these aircraft.