Page 30 - Volume 11 Number 3
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The U.S. Army Air Corps operated the AT-10 at airfields scattered throughout the Southern and Southwestern United States, where good weather conditions permitted almost non-stop flight training activity. The sliding upper canopy allowed direct access to the cockpit, which featured side-by-side seating for the instructor pilot and the student. Most Army Air Forces pilots received their multi-engine training in the AT-10. (WICHITA STATE UNIVERSITY LIBRARIES, SPECIAL COLLECTIONS AND UNIVERSITY ARCHIVES)
co-pilot flew an AT-10 on their first cross-country flight at night that included flying through a thunderstorm, which tumbled all the gyroscopic flight instruments. They landed safely at Memphis, Tennessee, but other crews “were not so lucky,” he said. His flight time in the AT-10 led to his being chosen to fly Consolidated B-24 Liberator heavy bombers, and later the mighty B-29.4
Although the majority of AT-10 trainers served with Operational Training Units in the United States, a small number were shipped across the Atlantic Ocean, reassembled and assigned to Replacement Training Units at U.S. Army Eighth Air Force bases in England. These Beechcrafts were used to train replacement pilots for aircrew declared dead or missing in action, as well as maintaining multi-engine proficiency. It is estimated that during the war, about 50 percent of pilots flying multi-engine airplanes received transition training on the AT-10. Walter’s “wooden wonder” also gained a solid reputation as an excellent transition trainer that more than met the Army Air Corp’s
high expectations. Beech Aircraft Corporation built 1,771 AT-10-BHs before production was terminated in 1943. Globe Aircraft Corporation manufactured 600 AT-10-GFs until production was terminated in 1944.
As of 2016, FAA records indicate no Model 26 aircraft are currently registered. AT-10BH is on static display at the Museum of the United States Air Force, Wright- Patterson AFB in Dayton, Ohio. In addition, as of 2009 an AT-10 was reported to be under restoration in Tarkio, Missouri, but the status of that project is unknown. KA
1. Late in World War I the infant aviation section of the Army
Signal Corps was separated and designated the “Air Service” (it was distinct from the Signal Corps). In 1926 the Air Service was renamed the “Air Corps,” and in 1935 the “General Headquarters Air Force” was established to complement the Air Corps. Later, General Headquarters Air Force became the “Air Force Combat Command.” The Air Corps, however, focused solely on supply and training functions. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, the entire U.S. Army was reorganized. The Air Corps and Air Force Combat
Command were merged to create the
“United States Army Air Forces.”
2. The Model 26 held the dual distinction of being the first Beechcraft airframe built almost entirely of wood, and the first all-wood advanced trainer accepted
by the Army Air Corps.
3. “Aviation Enthusiast Corner, Museum/
Aircraft Reference.”
4. Ibid
Ed Phillips, now retired and living in the South, has researched and written eight books on the unique and rich aviation history that belongs to Wichita, Kan. His writings have focused on
the evolution of the airplanes, companies and people that have made Wichita the “Air Capital of the World” for more than 80 years.
After the war, an AT-10 was modified with a V-tail empennage to evaluate the unique configuration that was destined to be used on the Model 35 Bonanza. Only a few of the more than 3,500 AT-10 trainers have survived, with one excellent example on display at the Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio. (WICHITA STATE UNIVERSITY LIBRARIES, SPECIAL COLLECTIONS AND UNIVERSITY ARCHIVES)
MARCH 2017

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