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Beechcraft Model 38P (Lightning)


Experimental Turboprop General Aviation Aircraft [ 1982 ]



The Beechcraft Lightning was the result of several design combinations - the body of a Baron, the wings of a Bonanza, and a turboprop engine.



Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 12/08/2021 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site.

GO TO SPECIFICATIONS [+]
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The utility-minded Model 38P "Lightning" was a long-nose turboprop developed by Beechcraft for the General Aviation (GA) market, appearing alongside contemporaries in the Pipe "Malibu Meridian" and the SOCATA "TBM" (both detailed elsewhere on this site). Despite showcasing extreme promise for the civilian marketplace, the design was doomed by the U.S. economic downturn that affected industry by the end of the 1980s. In the end, the aircraft was suspended from further development and ultimately cancelled in full - with just two being completed.

In the Model 38P (the "P" signifying "Pressurized"), the Beechcraft "Baron" Model 58P fuselage stood in as the base framework for this unique aircraft. Mated to the non-engine wings of a Beechcraft "Bonanza", the sleek passenger hauler was completed with a Garrett AiResearch TPE-331-9 turboprop engine at the nose. The result was a well-streamlined, high-performance GA aircraft worthy of note.

In this original configuration, the aircraft went airborne for the first time on June 14th, 1982 and successfully completed no fewer than 133 total flights. The program hit a snag, however, when it was decided to replace the original turboprop with the Pratt & Whitney Canada (PWC) PT6A-40 type which delayed its return into the air for some eighteen months. In this new guise, the aircraft went airborne for the first time on March 9th, 1984 and flew into August of that year for its part in the Lightning story.

As finalized, the aircraft seated its crew of one in a side-by-side arrangement behind the long nose assembly and could carry up to five passengers in the cabin. Overall length reached 29.10 feet with a wingspan of 37.9 feet. The PT6A-40 series turboprop outputting a useful 550 to 650 horsepower to drive a five-bladed propeller unit at the nose. The mainplanes were low-mounted along the fuselage sides and sported slight sweepback. The tail unit comprised a single vertical fin and low-mounted horizontal planes. For ground-running, a retractable tricycle undercarriage was used.

In testing, the aircraft exhibited cruising speeds up to 316 miles-per-hour and could range out to 1,285 miles. Its service ceiling was rated to 25,000 feet.

After the project was suspended, it was not restarted - resulting in any customer deposits on the product being returned. One example of the Model 38P resides in good condition at the Beechcraft Heritage Museum in Tullahoma, Tennessee.
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Specifications



Service Year
1982

Origin
United States national flag graphic
United States

Status
CANCELLED
Development Ended.
Crew
1

Production
2
UNITS


National flag of the United States United States (cancelled)
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
Commercial Aviation
Used in roles serving the commercial aviation market, ferrying both passengers and goods over range.
X-Plane (Developmental, Prototype, Technology Demonstrator)
Aircraft developed for the role of prototyping, technology demonstration, or research / data collection.


WING SWEEPBACK
Mainplanes, or leading edges, features swept-back lines for enhanced high-speed performance and handling.
HIGH-SPEED PERFORMANCE
Can accelerate to higher speeds than average aircraft of its time.
HIGH-ALTITUDE PERFORMANCE
Can reach and operate at higher altitudes than average aircraft of its time.
EXTENDED RANGE PERFORMANCE
Capability to travel considerable distances through onboard fuel stores.
SUPER PERFORMANCE
Design covers the three all-important performance categories of speed, altitude, and range.
CREWSPACE PRESSURIZATION
Supports pressurization required at higher operating altitudes for crew survival.
ENCLOSED CREWSPACE(S)
Features partially- or wholly-enclosed crew workspaces.
RETRACTABLE UNDERCARRIAGE
Features retracting / retractable undercarriage to preserve aerodynamic efficiency.


Length
29.9 ft
(9.12 m)
Width/Span
37.8 ft
(11.53 m)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the Beechcraft Model 38P production variant)
monoplane / low-mounted / swept-back
Monoplane
Design utilizes a single primary wing mainplane; this represent the most popular mainplane arrangement.
Low-Mounted
Mainplanes are low-mounted along the sides of the fuselage.
Swept-Back
The planform features wing sweep back along the leading edges of the mainplane, promoting higher operating speeds.
(Structural descriptors pertain to the Beechcraft Model 38P production variant)
Installed: 1 x Pratt & Whitney Canada (PWC) PT6A-40 turboprop engine developing 550-650 horsepower driving a five-bladed propeller unit at the nose.
Max Speed
396 mph
(638 kph | 344 kts)
Cruise Speed
317 mph
(510 kph | 275 kts)
Max. Speed Diff
+80 mph
(+128 kph | 69 kts)
Ceiling
24,934 ft
(7,600 m | 5 mi)
Range
1,286 mi
(2,070 km | 3,834 nm)


♦ 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


(Showcased performance specifications pertain to the Beechcraft Model 38P production variant. Compare this aircraft entry against any other in our database or View aircraft by powerplant type)
None.


Model 38P - Base Project Designation.
"Lightning" - Base Project Name.


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