Page 28 - Volume 11 Number 3
P. 28

The AT-10 was a handsome twin-engine monoplane with excellent performance for its primary role of teaching pilots how to fly multi-engine airplanes and manage
their systems. The two Lycoming R-680 static, air- cooled radial engines were rated at 290 horsepower
and were highly reliable powerplants. The AT-10’s use of non-strategic materials saved aluminum alloy that was used to build much-needed fighters and bombers after America’s entry into World War II. (WICHITA STATE UNIVERSITY LIBRARIES, SPECIAL COLLECTIONS AND UNIVERSITY ARCHIVES)
vertical stabilizers were wood covered with plywood, but the wood control surfaces were covered in doped fabric.
As for ease of fabrication, the wood airframe used no compound curves, and no sophisticated hot-molding processes were required to form many of the component parts. It is estimated that about 85 percent of the Model 25’s major sub-assemblies were built by subcontractors. The two-place cockpit accommodated a cadet pilot and instructor in a side-by-side arrangement, and was equipped with a rail-mounted canopy that slid aft for access. Good visibility from the cockpit was provided by the generous use of window area. Dual controls, an autopilot and full flight instrumentation for “blind flying” were installed.
The Model 25 was powered by two, nine-cylinder, static air-cooled Lycoming R-680-9 radial engines each producing 295 horsepower (sea level) at 2,300 RPM for takeoff, 275 horsepower at 2,200 RPM, and 210 horsepower at 2,000 RPM. The engines were fitted with two-blade, Hamilton-Standard constant-speed propellers with full-feathering capability. The R-680-9 was a more powerful version of the standard engine that equipped thousands of Boeing-Stearman PT-13 primary trainers for the Army Air Corps and N2S-series for the U.S. Navy during the war years.
The conventional landing gear retracted aft and was enclosed by two doors, although a small portion of each
tire was exposed to the airstream. The tailwheel was fixed and non-steerable, and the main landing gear used hydraulic brakes. The use of aluminum alloy was also applied to the engine nacelles and cowlings. Welded steel tubing was used for the engine mounts.
General specifications include:
Length: 27 feet 11 inches
Wingspan: 37 feet
Wing area: 298 square feet
Height: 10 feet 4 inches
Empty weight: 4,750 pounds
Maximum takeoff weight: 6,130 pounds Range: 750 statute miles
Service ceiling: 15,000 feet
According to Beech Aircraft records, development costs for the Model 25 amounted to about $255,000, and in May 1941 a prototype had been completed and prepared for its maiden voyage into the blue skies over Kansas. The pilot assigned to make that flight was Major George Putnam Moody. He joined the Air Corps in 1930, and in 1934 was among the brave but ill-prepared group of Army pilots that briefly replaced commercial airlines flying the air mail. On May 5 Moody took off in the prototype Model 25, but what happened next has been obscured by time and the absence of an official accident report.
At some point during the flight, Moody lost control of the airplane, possibly while evaluating performance with one engine inoperative. It is possible that the airplane stalled and entered a spin from which Moody was unable to recover. He was killed and the Model 25 completely destroyed. A second airplane, designated the Model 26, was completed and made its first flight on July 19, 1941, with Beech Aircraft test pilot H.C. “Ding” Rankin in the left seat and company vice president of sales and marketing, John P. Gaty, acting as co-pilot.
After completion of flight testing by the Army Air Force, the Model 26 was accepted and given the military designation AT-10 and the unofficial nickname, Wichita.2 After the United States entered the war on December 8, 1941, the need for multi-engine trainers greatly increased, and by February 1942 Beechcraft factory workers were busy building and assembling the AT-10. As airplanes rolled off the production lines, Air Corps pilots ferried the ships to bases across the nation. Among the Army bases that received the AT- 10 was Valdosta Field, Georgia. The facility opened in September 1941, and on December 6 was renamed Moody Field in honor of Major Moody, who was killed testing the Model 25.
The AT-10 was operated under the Army Air Force Training Command (AAFTC), led by Lt. General Barton K. Yount. The chief focus of the AAFTC was to “get men to the front” as soon as possible – a formidable task given that in early 1942 America was, as it had been in 1917, woefully unprepared for war. That situation
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