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Beech AT-11 Kansan


Bomber and Gunnery Trainer Aircraft


United States | 1937



"The effective Beech AT-11 Kansan flying classroom proved an ultra-critical component of the American bomber force effort of World War 2."



Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 06/21/2021 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.
Born from the pre-World War 2 Beech AT-7 navigational trainer of the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) - itself based in the commercial grade Beech Model 18 twin - the AT-11 "Kansan" became the services primary bomber and aerial gunnery trainer in the pre-World War 2 period. The aircraft excelled in its role to the point that some 1,582 units were produced for the USAAF before and during the war. The aircraft introduced rectangular windows along the cabin sides, a glazed-over nose (for the bombardier trainee), an internal bomb bay complete with powered doors, bomb racks, and up to 3 x 0.30 caliber air-cooled machine guns (for gunnery trainees) on trainable mountings.

The aircraft was a twin-engine design of conventional arrangement and typical performance for the period and role. It showcased a short, rounded nose assembly and, aft of this, were the pilots in side-by-side arrangement. The cockpit included control yokes for each pilot with a shared instrument panel interface (including throttle controls along a center console). At the front bombardier's position was installed the famous Norden Bombsight - giving the bombardier full piloting control over the aircraft for the critical bombing run. The fuselage was slab-sided and tapered noticeably towards the rear to which a twin-finned rudder assembly was mounted along a shared horizontal plane. The mainplanes were low-mounted along the fuselage sides and each carried a streamlined engine nacelle which protruded from the leading edge. The engines were in clear view for both pilots. A wheeled tail-dragger undercarriage was featured with the trio of legs being retractable in the design.

For power, the aircraft relied on 2 x Pratt & Whitney R-985 air-cooled radial piston engines developing 450 horsepower each and driving two-bladed metal propellers in tractor configuration. Maximum speed was 215 miles-per-hour while cruising was generally at 150 mph. Range was out to 745 miles with a reported service ceiling of 20,000 feet.

Dimensions included a length of 34.1 feet, a span of 47.7 feet, and a height of 9.7 feet. Weight reached 9,300lb gross.

The primary - and definitive - production model was designated simply as "AT-11" and these were followed by the "AT-11A" which were some 36 AT-11 examples converted to navigational trainers. Initial production models featured a single-gunned (0.30 cal) Beechcraft dorsal turret for gunnery training with later models switching over to a twin-gunned (2 x 0.30 cal) Crocker Wheeler-branded emplacement instead. A tail gunner's training position was also added.

Beyond the state production number associated with the USAAF commitment, an order for another twenty-four was originally placed by The Netherlands to support training but these were taken over by the American service - though eventually serving the Royal Netherlands Military Flying School stateside in the skies over Jackson, Mississippi.

In practice, bomber crews were able to pilot, navigate, bomb, and gun their way to certification. This included evasive maneuvering, the dropping of 100lb sand-filled "ordnance" on dummy targets at altitude, and proper management of key systems including engines. Such was the value of the AT-11 in USAAF service that some ninety-percent of all of its bomber crews were trained on the platform.

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Power & Performance
Those special qualities that separate one aircraft design from another. Performance specifications presented assume optimal operating conditions for the AT-11 Bomber and Gunnery Trainer Aircraft.
2 x Pratt & Whitney R-985 air-cooled radial piston engines developing 450 horsepower each and driving two-bladed propeller units in puller fashion.
Propulsion
214 mph
345 kph | 186 kts
Max Speed
149 mph
240 kph | 130 kts
Cruise Speed
20,013 ft
6,100 m | 4 miles
Service Ceiling
746 miles
1,200 km | 648 nm
Operational Range
1,850 ft/min
564 m/min
Rate-of-Climb
City-to-City Ranges
Operational range when compared to distances between major cities (in KM).
NYC
 
  LON
LON
 
  PAR
PAR
 
  BER
BER
 
  MOS
MOS
 
  TOK
TOK
 
  SYD
SYD
 
  LAX
LAX
 
  NYC
Structure
The nose-to-tail, wingtip-to-wingtip physical qualities of the AT-11 Bomber and Gunnery Trainer Aircraft.
6
(MANNED)
Crew
34.1 ft
10.40 m
O/A Length
47.7 ft
(14.54 m)
O/A Width
9.7 ft
(2.96 m)
O/A Height
5,512 lb
(2,500 kg)
Empty Weight
9,304 lb
(4,220 kg)
MTOW
Design Balance
The three qualities reflected below are altitude, speed, and range. The more full the box, the more balanced the design.
RANGE
ALT
SPEED
Armament
Available supported armament and special-mission equipment featured in the design of the Beech AT-11 Kansan Bomber and Gunnery Trainer Aircraft provided across 2 hardpoints.
OPTIONAL:
2 or 3 x 0.30 caliber Browning air-cooled machine guns on trainable / flexible mountings in dorsal turret and tail gun emplacement.

100lb sand-filled "bombs" for bombardier training.


X X X

X
X
Hardpoints Key:


Centerline
Wingroot(L)
Wingroot(R)
Wing
Wingtip
Internal
Not Used
Variants
Notable series variants as part of the Beech AT-11 Kansan family line.
AT-11 "Kansan" - Base Series Designation.
AT-11A - Navigation conversion models of existing AT-11 stock; 36 examples.
Operators
Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the Beech AT-11 Kansan. Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national aircraft listing.

Total Production: 1,606 Units

Contractor(s): Beech - USA
National flag of the Netherlands National flag of the United States

[ Netherlands; United States ]
Relative Max Speed
Hi: 300mph
Lo: 150mph
Aircraft Max Listed Speed (214mph).

Graph Average of 225 MPH.
Era Crossover
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Showcasing Aircraft Era Crossover (if any)
Max Alt Visualization
Small airplane graphic
Production Comparison
1606
36183
44000
Entry compared against Ilyushin IL-2 (military) and Cessna 172 (civilian) total production.
MACH Regime (Sonic)
Sub
Trans
Super
Hyper
HiHyper
ReEntry
RANGES (MPH) Subsonic: <614mph | Transonic: 614-921 | Supersonic: 921-3836 | Hypersonic: 3836-7673 | Hi-Hypersonic: 7673-19180 | Reentry: >19030
Aviation Timeline
EarlyYrs
WWI
Interwar
WWII
ColdWar
Postwar
Modern
Future
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Mission Roles
Some designs are single-minded in their approach while others offer a more versatile solution to airborne requirements.
GROUND ATTACK
TRAINING
BASIC TRAINING
ADVANCED TRAINING
Recognition
Some designs stand the test of time while others are doomed to never advance beyond the drawing board; let history be their judge.
Going Further...
The Beech AT-11 Kansan Bomber and Gunnery Trainer Aircraft appears in the following collections:
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