This early version of the T-34 Mentor became operational during the 1950s, and was used by the Navy for over twenty years, accumulating almost 100,000 flight hours per year. The advanced T-34C Turbo Mentor that followed it into production will continue to serve as a primary trainer until replaced by the T-6 Texan II.
During World War II the U.S. Navy and Army Air Forces operated common training aircraft, and the practice continued into the 1950s when the sea service and the recently created U.S. Air Force both chose the Beech Model 45 as a primary trainer. Deliveries of the aircraft, designated the T-34B Mentor, to the Navy began in 1954. The Navy operated the T-34B for over twenty years, accumulating almost 100,000 flight hours per year. One aircraft accumulated 5,115 airframe hours, which included 16,459 landings, 17,904 stalls and 4,604 loops.
In April 1975 the Navy ordered an improved version of the aircraft that featured a 400 horsepower Pratt & Whitney PT6A-25 turboprop. Still operational, the aircraft are employed in the first stage of flight training for prospective Naval Aviators and also provide aerobatic familiarization for future Naval Flight Officers. In 2002 the Navy began a gradual phasing out of the T-34, replacing it with the T-6A Texan II, a joint primary trainer for use by both the Navy and Air Force.
In several variants the T-34 has been or is now in use by a number of countries, including Argentina, Japan and the Philippines. The T-34B Mentor on display (Bureau Number 144040) was acquired from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service and is painted in the markings of an aircraft of the Naval Air Training Command.
|Manufacturer:||Beech Aircraft Corporation|
|Crew:||Instructor and student|
|Powerplant:||One 225 horsepower Continental O-470-13 engine|
|Dimensions:|| Length: 25 ft., 11 in.|
Height: 9 ft., 7 in.
Wingspan: 32 ft., 10 in.
|Weight:|| Empty: 2,228 lb.|
Gross: 2,985 lb.
|Performance:|| Max Speed: 188 mph|
Ceiling: 19,500 ft.
Range: 728 miles