Page 27 - Volume 11 Number 3
P. 27

As a result, the Model 25 would be built using non- strategic materials that were in abundant supply and were relatively easy to obtain. Using wood instead of metal had a number of important advantages, including ease and speed of manufacture, fabrication on a large scale, and the ability to “farm out” responsibility for manufacturing airframe assemblies and components to subcontractors already skilled in woodworking techniques (much as the British de Havilland company did with the famous and versatile, all-wood Mosquito).
Nor was the Beech Aircraft Corporation alone in its quest to build a multi-engine trainer for the Army Air Corps. Across town the Cessna Aircraft Company, which by 1941 was thriving under the able leadership of Dwane L. Wallace and his board of directors, already were building the AT-8 – a military version of the commercial T-50 – and the Curtiss Airplane Division of the Curtiss- Wright Corporation designed the twin-engine Model CW-25, designated AT-9 by the Army Air Corps.
As with the Beechcraft Model 25, the AT-8 and AT-9 also served to familiarize pilots with the handling characteristics of new medium bombers that were beginning to roll off the production lines. These included the Martin B-26 Marauder and the North American B-25 Mitchell. Unlike the Model 25, the AT-8 was of composite construction using a steel tube fuselage, wood wing and
fabric covering, while production versions of the AT-9 were of all-metal construction.
In 1940, the Nazi’s rapid advance across Western Europe stunned France, Belgium and England as the British and their hard-fighting French allies fell back toward Paris and, finally, the beaches of Dunkerque. A heroic stand by the French forces held the Germans at bay just long enough for the evacuation of more than 300,000 Allied soldiers who would survive to fight another day.
Meanwhile, back in Wichita, Ted Wells and his crew were busy finalizing the design details of the Model 25. There was nothing revolutionary or evolutionary about the new Beechcraft’s airframe. The wings were built of wood in three sections, covered in plywood and bonded together using synthetic resin adhesives. Flaps were mounted along the wing trailing edge between the ailerons and the fuselage. One innovative feature of the airplane was its fuel tanks that were made of wood, with a special synthetic rubber lining installed that was not affected by aviation fuels.
The fuselage was fabricated in two main sections with the cockpit, built of aluminum alloy for structural considerations, and the aft section that was an all-wood monocoque design covered with plywood and bonded with synthetic resin adhesives. The horizontal and

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