World War II U.S. Navy light transport/multi-engine trainer.
The Museum’s Beech was built in 1943 as a Beech AT-7. The construction number was 5479 and its USAAF s/n was 43-33316. It was delivered to the USAAF Navigation Training School at San Marcos, Texas on October 26, 1943. Cost of construction was $59,579. It spent the war years as a navigation trainer. The aircraft was outfitted with navigation equipment for three students on the right hand side of the cabin.
Our Beech was transferred to the U.S. Navy on December 31, 1945. At that point it was designated as an SNB-2 and assigned the BuNo. 67103. On January 2, 1946, the SNB was assigned to NAS Corpus Christi, Texas. On July 30, 1946, the Beech was transferred to NAS Olathe, Kansas. In 1948 the plane was based at NAS Norfolk, Virginia, before being transferred to FASRON (Fleet Air Support Squadron) 103 at NAS Atlantic City, New Jersey in August of 1948.
Somewhere between February 1949 and August 1951 the SNB was returned to Beech and remanufactured into a post-war D-18S model. As part of the rebuild the aircraft was given a new wing center section, fuselage, landing gear, brakes, and tail wheels. The engines, propellers, tail section, outer wings, and some interior equipment were refurbished and returned to the aircraft. After this process, what emerged was basically a zero timed, new aircraft. The aircraft was given a new Beech c/n of N790.
On August 6, 1951, our Beech, now designated as a SNB-5 was delivered to the U.S. Navy. By April of 1952 the plane had been transferred to the Marines and was now operated by the Pacific Division Headquarters of the Fleet Marine Force Headquarters and Maintenance Squadron. In 1962 the Department of Defense implemented a new unified system of aircraft designation so the SNB became a UC-45J. In the late 1960s the C-45 was dropped from the USN inventory and was assigned to the U.S. Army. While operated by the U.S. Army, the plane retained the U.S. Navy serial number. By early 1971, the plane was placed in storage at Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona.
On August 3, 1971 the aircraft was donated to the University of Kansas and registered as N200KU. (It is interesting to note that on the donation papers the aircraft is listed as s/n 46-7103, clearly a misstatement of the U.S. Navy BuNo.) The cost of the donation was listed as $75,000. (The aircraft’s civilian Certificate of Aircraft Registration was issued on December 13, 1971.) The aircraft was used for a variety of research projects, mainly consisting of photo mapping. On October 17, 1973 the aircraft was substantially damaged in a wheel up landing at Lawrence, Kansas. Obviously the plane was repaired shortly afterwards.
On September 5, 1984 it was registered to the Military Aircraft Restoration Corp. The plane was placed on loan to the Combat Aircraft Museum in Topeka, Kansas for a short time, before it was flown to MAPS in 1990. The aircraft’s paint scheme was stripped, skin polished, and repainted in U.S. Navy markings. Restoration work has been done off and on over the last ten years and hopefully the aircraft will take to the air again sometime in the near future.
Special thanks to Beech 18 guru Robert Parmerter for his help with some of the above history. [contributed by Jim Bates]