T-34 Mentor

T-34 Mentor

infobox Aircraft
name = T-34 Mentor

caption = A T-34B Mentor aircraft from Training Squadron 5 (VT-5) in 1976
type = Trainer aircraft
national origin = United States
manufacturer = Beechcraft
first flight = 2 December 1948
introduced = 1953
retired =
status =
primary user = United States Navy
more users = United States Air Force Japan Air Self Defense Force Philippine Air Force
produced = 1953-1959
number built = 2,300+
unit cost =
developed from = Beechcraft Bonanza
variants with their own articles =

The Beechcraft T-34 Mentor is a propeller-driven, single-engined, military trainer aircraft derived from the Beechcraft Model 35 Bonanza. The earlier versions of the T-34, dating from around the late 1940s to the 1950s, were piston-engined. These were eventually succeeded by the upgraded T-34C Turbo Mentor, powered by a turboprop engine. The T-34 remains in service almost six decades after it was first designed.

Design and development

The T-34 was the brainchild of Walter Beech, who developed it as the Beechcraft Model 45 private venture at a time when there was no defense budget for a new trainer model. Beech hoped to sell it as an economical alternative to the North American T-6/NJ Texan, then in use by all services of the U.S. military.

Three initial design concepts were developed for the Model 45, including one with the Bonanza's signature V-tail, but the final design that emerged in 1948 incorporated conventional tail control surfaces for the benefit of the more conservative military (featuring a relatively large unswept vertical fin that would find its way onto the Travel Air twin-engine civil aircraft almost ten years later). The Bonanza's fuselage with four-passenger cabin was replaced with a narrower fuselage incorporating a two-seater tandem cockpit and bubble canopy, which provided greater visibility for the trainee pilot and flight instructor. Structurally the Model 45 was much stronger than the Bonanza, being designed for +10"g" and -4.5"g", while the Continental E-185 engine of 185 horsepower (hp) at takeoff (less than a third of the power of the T-6's engine [ [http://www.militaryfactory.com/aircraft/detail.asp?aircraft_id=408 T-6 specifications] Retrieved: 13 November 2007.] ) was the same as that fitted to contemporary BonanzasPhillips, Edward H. "Beechcraft - Pursuit of Perfection, A History of Beechcraft Airplanes". Eagan, Minnesota: Flying Books, 1992. ISBN 0-911139-11-7.] .

Following the prototype were three Model A45T aircraft, the first two with the same engine as the prototype and the third with a Continental E-225, which would prove to be close to the production version. Production did not begin until 1953, when Beechcraft began delivering T-34As to the United States Air Force (USAF) and similar Model B45 aircraft for export. In 1955 production of the T-34B for the United States Navy (USN) began, this version featuring a number of differences reflecting the different requirements of the two services. The T-34B had only differential braking for steering control on the ground instead of nosewheel steering, additional wing dihedral and to cater for the different heights of pilots, adjustable rudder pedals instead of the moveable seats of the T-34AMorris, Frank. [http://www.philfarq.com/t-34/t-34_history.htm A Short History of the Beechcraft Mentor] Retrieved: 13 November 2007.] . T-34A production was completed in 1956, with T-34Bs being built until October 1957 and licensed B45 versions built in Canada (125 manufactured by Canadian Car and Foundry), Japan (173 built by Fuji Heavy Industries), and Argentina (75 by FMA) until 1958. Beechcraft delivered the last Model B45s in 1959. Total production of the Continental-engined versions in the US and abroad was 1,904 aircraft.

Model 73 Jet Mentor

In 1955 Beechcraft developed a jet-engined derivative, again as a private venture, and again in the hope of winning a contract from the US military. The Model 73 Jet Mentor shared many components with the piston-engined aircraft; major visual differences were the redesigned cockpit which was relocated further forward in the fuselage and the air intakes for the jet engine in the wing roots, supplying air to a single jet engine in the rear fuselage. The first flight of the Model 73, registered N134B, was on 18 December 1955. The Model 73 was evaluated by the USAF, which ordered the Cessna T-37, and the USN, which decided upon the Temco TT Pinto. The Model 73 was not put into production.

Turboprop era

After a production hiatus of almost 15 years, the T-34C Turbine Mentor powered by a Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-25 turboprop engine was developed in 1973. Development proceeded at the behest of the USN, which supplied two T-34Bs for conversion. After re-engining with the PT6 the two aircraft were redesignated as YT-34Cs, the first of these flying with turboprop power for the first time on 21 September 1973Taylor, M. J. H. ed. "Jane's American Fighting Aircraft of the 20th Century". Mallard Press. ISBN 0-7924-5627-0] . Mentor production re-started in 1975 for deliveries of T-34Cs to the USN and of the T-34C-1 armed version for export customers in 1977, this version featuring four underwing hardpoints. The last Turbine Mentor rolled off the production line in 1990.

Operational history

The first flight of the Model 45 was on 2 December 1948, by Beechcraft test pilot Vern Carstens. In 1950 the USAF ordered three Model A45T test aircraft, which were given the military designation YT-34. A long competition followed to determine a new trainer, and in 1953 the Air Force put the Model 45 into service as the T-34A Mentor, while the USN followed in May 1955 with the T-34B. The US Air Force began to replace the T-34A at the beginning of the 1960s, while the U.S. Navy kept the T-34B operational until the early 1970s. As of 2007, Mentors are still used in several air forces and navies.

The T-34A and C were used by the Argentine Navy during the Falklands War. [ [http://www.britains-smallwars.com/Falklands/ArgentineAirc.htm#mentor britains-smallwars.com] ] [Morgan 2006, p. 78. Quote: "This changed around midday when Lieutenant Soapy Watson and Sharkey Ward were vectored onto three Mentor light attack aircraft about to attack a Sea King in the area of Berkeley Sound."]

In 2004, due to a series of crashes involving in-flight structural failure during simulated combat flights, the entire US civilian fleet of T-34s was grounded by the Federal Aviation Administration. The grounding has since been eased to a series of restrictions on the permitted flight envelope.

The T-34C is still used as the primary training aircraft for United States Navy and Marine Corps pilots. The T-34C is currently being replaced by the T-6 Texan II but is still the primary aircraft at NAS Corpus Christi and NAS Whiting Field. NAS Pensacola has already completed the transition to the T-6 and the first T-6s are scheduled to arrive at Whiting Field in summer 2009.

The Mentor is the aircraft used by the Lima Lima Flight Team and Dragon Flight, both civilian demonstration teams. It is also used by aerobatic pilot Julie Clark, who flies her T-34 "Free Spirit" (registration N134JC) at air shows.


;YT-34:Prototype, three built.;T-34A:US Air Force trainer. Replaced by the Cessna T-37 around 1960 (450 built).;T-34B:US Navy trainer. Used until early 70s when it was replaced by the T-34C (423 built by Beechcraft).;YT-34C:Two T-34Bs were fitted with turboprop engines, and were used as T-34C prototypes.;T-34C Turbo Mentor:Two-seat primary trainer, fitted with a turboprop engine.;T-34C-1:Equipped with hardpoints for training or light attack. Widely exported.;Turbine Mentor 34C:Civilian version


Military operators

* Argentine Air Force
* Argentine Navy;BOL;CAN;CHI
*Chilean Air Force
*Chilean Navy
* United States Air Force
* United States Navy
* United States Marine Corps
* United States Coast Guard;URY;VEN

Civil operators

* Club Aéreo de Santiago;TUR
* Turkish Aeronautical Association
* Istanbul Havacilik Kulubu;USA:
* Dragon Flight
* Lima Lima Flight Team
* The San Diego Salute [ [http://www.sandiegosalute.org/ The San Diego Salute] ]

pecifications (T-34C)

Aircraft specification|
plane or copter?=plane
jet or prop?=prop
length main=28 ft 6 in
length alt=8.75 m
span main=33 ft 5 in
span alt=10.60 m
height main=9 ft 7 in
height alt=2.92 m
area main=180 ft²
area alt=16.7 m²
empty weight main=2,960 lb
empty weight alt=1,342 kg
loaded weight main=
loaded weight alt=
max takeoff weight main=4,400 lb
max takeoff weight alt=1,950 kg
more general=
engine (prop)=Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-25
type of prop=turboprop
number of props=1
power main=550 shp
power alt=410 kW
max speed main=280 kt IAS
max speed alt=320 mph, 520 km/h
range main=600 nm
range alt=690 mi, 1,110 km
ceiling main=25,000 ft
ceiling alt=7,600 m
climb rate main=1,480 ft/min
climb rate alt=7.5 m/s
more performance=
* "g" limit: 4.5 positive, 2.3 negative

ee also

* Beechcraft Bonanza
* Beechcraft Travel Air
* Beechcraft Baron
* Fuji KM-2
similar aircraft=
* T-6 Texan II
* T-28 Trojan
* Pilatus P-3
* PAC CT/4




* [http://www.kxan.com/Global/story.asp?S=4420707 Corpus Christi 2006 accident]
* Drendel Lou. "T-34 Mentor in Action". Carrollton, Texas: Squadron/Signal Publications, 1990. ISBN 0-89747-249-7.
* Morgan, David. "Hostile Skies: My Falklands Air War". London: Phoenix Publishing, 2006. ISBN 978-0-7538-2199-2.

External links

* [http://www.navy.mil/navydata/fact_display.asp?cid=1100&tid=1800&ct=1 US Navy Fact File: T-34C Turbo Mentor] and [http://www.history.navy.mil/planes/t-34.html T-34 history page on Navy.mil]
* [http://www.raytheonaircraft.com/military/t-34/ Hawker Beechcraft T-34 page]
* [http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/systems/aircraft/t-34.htm T-34 Mentor/T-34C Turbo Mentor on GlobalSecurity.org]
* [http://www.fas.org/man/dod-101/sys/ac/t-34.htm FAS Military Analysis Network: T-34C Turbo Mentor]
* [http://www.t-34.com T-34 Association: Non-profit organization dedicated to "Keep 'em flyin".]

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