Beech AT-10 Wichita - United States, 1942
Detailing the development and operational history of the Beech AT-10 Wichita Twin-Engine Military Trainer Aircraft.
Entry last updated on 2/3/2017; Authored by Staff Writer; Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com
Nearly 2,400 Beechcraft AT-10 Wichita aircraft were built from 1942 to 1944 for the United States Army Air Forces of World War 2.
The Beech Aircraft AT-10 "Wichita" was conceived by the company as a dedicated, low-cost twin-engine military trainer to meet a standing requirement by the United States Army Air Corps (USAAC) (to become the United States Army Air Forces - USAAF - in March of 1942). To facilitate mass production (and head-off a possible shortage of valuable aluminum during wartime), plywood was used throughout the construction of the airframe with metal only applied to the key sections such as the engine and cockpit area. The Wichita, beginning life as the company "Model 25", saw design from 1940 until 1941 and entered service in 1942. The AT-10 was named after the Kansan town of "Wichita" where the Beechcraft facility resided and 2,371 total examples followed with manufacturing handled by Beechcraft (1,771 units) and Globe Aircraft Corporation (600 units).
The original prototype was lost to an accident on May 5th, 1941 during testing by the USAAC and Beechcraft quickly turned around and constructed a second form as the "Model 26". Following the requisite evaluations, trials and certifications, the aircraft was adopted as the AT-10 and entered the USAAC inventory in February of 1942. Nearly 750 were on hand before the end of the year.
Dimensions of the Wichita included a length of 34.3 feet, a wingspan of 44 feet and a height of 10.3 feet. Empty was 4,750 lb with a Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) nearing 6,130 lb. The Wichita was powered by a pair of Lycoming R-680-9 series air-cooled engines delivering 295 horsepower apiece. This propelled the aircraft to speeds of 198 miles per hour out to ranges of 770 miles and a service ceiling up to 16,900 feet.
The AT-10 proved crucial in the training of airmen intended for large aircraft as it stood as a stepping stone to operational-level bombers and transport types of equal or larger size. Production of the series was aided by its simplicity - the largely wooden approach allowed Beechcraft to outsource manufacture to wood-working / furniture plants to help meet demand. Even the all-important fuel stores were wooden with a synthetic rubber liner applied. The aircraft was in constant production until 1944 and the final examples emerged from Globe Aircraft lines (the company evolving to become Temco in the post-war period).
AT-10s operated until the end of the war which arrived in 1945.