Friday, November 18, 2011

Museum Piece

Museum Piece Photo Chris Lord

I took the original image of this aircraft (this picture was the first in my "Flights of Fancy" series) during a visit to the Science Museum in London where it was hanging from the ceiling. This was many years ago and unfortunately I neglected to find out or makes notes as to it's identity. A Google search for images from the museum brings up several photographs of the plane and it's environment in the Hall of Progress but nobody bothers to mention what this plane actually is. So I am unable to enlighten you as well. Perhaps if anyone reading this knows the identity of this plane you might email me with it or leave a comment here on the blog. I would appreciates that. Meanwhile I fooled around with this picture some time ago and here it is for your viewing pleasure.


Well after all this time I finally have an answer to the mystery. Many thanks to Dave Godden who has pointed me in the right direction and informed me that this is a Beech 18.

The Beechcraft Model 18 (or "Twin Beech", as it is also known) is a six to 11-seat, twin-engined, low-wing, tailwheel light aircraft manufactured by the Beech Aircraft Corporation of Wichita, Kansas. Continuously produced from 1937 to November 1969, (over 32 years, the world record at the time), over 9,000 were produced, making it one of the world's most widely used light aircraft. Sold worldwide as a civilian executive, utility, cargo aircraft, and passenger airliner on tailwheels, nosewheels, skis or floats, it was also used as a military aircraft.

During and after World War II, over 4,500 Beech 18s saw military service -- as light transport, light bomber (for China), aircrew trainer (for bombing, navigation and gunnery), photo-reconnaisance, and "mother ship" for target drones -- including United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) C-45 Expeditor, AT-7 Navigator, AT-11 Kansan; and United States Navy (USN) UC-45J Navigator, SNB-1 Kansan, and others. In World War II, over 90% of USAAF bombardiers and navigators trained in these aircraft.

In the early postwar era, the Beech 18 was the pre-eminent "business aircraft" and "feeder airliner." Besides carrying passengers, its civilian uses have included aerial spraying, sterile insect release, fish seeding, dry ice cloud seeding, aerial firefighting, air mail delivery, ambulance service, numerous movie productions, skydiving, freight, weapon- and drug-smuggling, engine testbed, skywriting, banner towing, and stunt aircraft. Many are now privately owned, around the world, with over 300 in the U.S. still on the FAA Aircraft Registry in December 2014 

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