Page 26 - Volume 13 Number 1
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of numerous jigs, fixtures and tooling progressed smoothly. Raw materials were on order and suppliers lined up to supply the many ancillary components such as pumps, wheels, brakes, spruce, instruments, steel tubing and many other parts. Meanwhile, Wells and Wassall were busy creating hundreds of technical drawings and blueprints that would bring the biplane to life.
In July Wells applied to the Aeronautics Branch of the United States Department of Commerce (DOC) for issuance of two Approved Type Certificates (ATC) – one for the Beechcraft Model 17J and the other for the Beechcraft Model 17R. The airframes of the two aircraft were almost identical, but the 17J would be powered by the Wright R-1510, 14-cylinder radial engine rated at 650 horsepower, while the Model 17R would use the proven Wright R-975E-2, nine-cylinder powerplant that produced 420 horsepower. Eventually, a decision was made to forego building the Model 17J because the R-1510 had not been certified. Back in the halcyon days of Travel Air, both Beech and Wells had experience with the DOC in obtaining an ATC, but neither man could have foreseen the coming struggle to certify the new Beechcraft. That struggle would not only strain their personal and professional relationships, it would also degrade relations with DOC officials and push the infant Beech Aircraft Company toward insolvency.
Basic specifications for the Model 17R include:
= Wingspan of 34 feet 4 inches and use the U.S. Navy’s N-9 airfoil section to reduce drag
= Total wing area: 323 square feet = Length: 24 feet 3 inches
= Height: 8 feet 8 inches
= Empty weight: 2,677 pounds
= Gross weight: 4,500 pounds
= Estimated maximum speed: 201 mph = Estimated cruise speed: 180 mph
= Fuel capacity: 145 gallons
= Range: 800-1,050 statute miles
= Landing speed: 60 mph
= Standard-equipped price: $18,000
Late in July the fuselage, empennage, wing panels and flight controls were completed and ready for static testing. Errors discovered by DOC inspectors, however, delayed authorization for the tests until corrections were made, and late in August the static tests were authorized. It took another two months before the Model 17R was ready for final assembly in the Cessna factory. For seven months Walter Beech had watched over its construction like an expectant father and he anxiously awaited its first flight, as did company pilot “Pete” Hill

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