|Tri-gear Beech 18 N6NA sits among wrecks at Opa Locka, Florida, USA in April 2006|
Beech 18 has the distinction of being the aircraft with the longest
production run in history, more than 9,000 being built from 1937 to
Walter Beech's new type first flew on January 15, 1937 and was a conventional design for the time, with two radial engines, metal construction and a taildragger layout. Early machines were powered either by 300hp Jacobs L6s or 350hp Wrignt R760Es, however, the Pratt and Whitney Wasp Junior became the definitive engine from the C18S onwards.
Already successful as a seven to nine passenger feeder airliner before World War II, the US military made wide use of it as a transport and multi-engine pilot trainer during the conflict with more than 5,000 built as C45 Expeditors and AT11 Kansans, while the US Navy amd Marine Corps knew the type as the SNB or JRB. More than 1,100 were operated by the RAF and Royal Canadian Air Force under lend-lease. The final wartime variant was the F2 photo reconnaisance aircraft, with 69 built.
Postwar, large numbers of aircraft entered the civil market while Beech restarted production of the C18S. The company continually updated the type as the D18S, on 1946, the Continental-powered D18C of 1947, the E18S, or Super 18, of 1954, the G18S from 1958 and the H18 with optional tricycle undercarriage from 1962.
The Beech 18 was also the subject of more than 200 US-approved conversions. Volpar offered various tricycle models, including those with TPE331 turboprops and stretched versions, including the 15-seat Turboliner. Hamilton produced the Westwind with Pratt and Whitney Canada PT6 turboprops and also offered stretched models.
PAC developed the Tradewind floatplane in Canada with a lengthened nose and single fin, and this aircraft continues in service.
The type continues in third-level airline operation around the world, while several hundred are flown by warbird operators and many others are in museums.
|Census:||Canada and Latin America||USA||Europe||Africa, Asia and Australasia|