Beech T-34 Mentor
Designed in 1948 as a private venture by Walter Beech, the Model 45 Mentor was pitched to the armed services as a less expensive and easier to fly alternative to the North American Texan used in the 1940s. At the time, many of the armed forces were undecided as to whether to continue training pilots in prop-driven aircraft, or whether to used jet-powered aircraft in all phases of pilot training. Luckily for Beech, the gamble paid off. In 1953 the USAF selected the T-34A Mentor as its new primary trainer, and ordered 450 of the aircraft. In 1954, the Navy followed suit and ordered 423 of the T-34B.
The T-34 was also used by air forces in Canada (25 built), Argentina (75), Japan (124), and the Philippines (36), and was supplied by the U.S. government to Spain and Saudi Arabia.
An armed version of the T-34 was designed, mounting two 7.62mm fixed MGs (Light Aircraft MGs) in the wings and underwing hardpoints for six rockets or two 150-lb. bombs. None were ever produced.
The T-34 was phased out by the USAF in 1960 with the advent of all-through jet training, but retained by the USN as the turbo-prop T-34C until the 1990s. It had become a popular civilian "warbird," with over 200 Mentors being flown by private individuals and organizations (for example, the Lima Lima Flying Team in Naperville, Illinois).
The T-34 burns 4.35 gallons of aviation fuel per hour at routine usage. A full load of fuel costs $6.
Beech T-34A/B Mentor
Subassemblies: Light Fighter chassis with Good streamlining +3; Light Fighter wings +2; 3 retractable wheels +0.
Powertrain: 168-kW HP gasoline engine with 168-kW prop and 45-gallon fuel tank [Body]; 4000-kW battery.
Occ.: 2 CS Body
Cargo: 5 Body
Armor F RL B T U
Body: 2/4 2/4 2/4 2/4 2/4
Wings: 2/4 2/4 2/4 2/4 2/4
Wheels: 2/3 2/3 2/3 2/3 2/3
Body: Medium radio transmitter and receiver, navigation instruments, autopilot, backup driver.
Size: 26'x33'x9' Payload: 0.35 tons Lwt.: 1.45 tons
Volume: 144 Maint.: 96 hours Cost: $4,379
HT: 8. HPs: 50 Body, 70 each Wing, 5 each Wheel.
aSpeed: 189 aAccel: 3 aDecel: 17 aMR: 4 aSR: 1
Stall Speed: 57 mph. Take-Off Run: 361 yards. Landing Run: 325 yards.
gSpeed: 172 gAccel: 9 gDecel: 10 gMR: 0.5 gSR: 2
Ground Pressure: Very High. 1/8 Off-Road Speed.
Historical wing area was 178 sf. The fuel capacity was based on the historical load minus crew weight; this made design payload and historical payload identical. Design loaded weight was decreased 4% to the historical. Design aSpeed was 192 mph. Performance calculations were based on historical values for wing area and loaded weight.
Current planes are probably fitted with better engines. Lima Lima's planes feature a 261-kW engine; upgrading the powerplant to an aerial HP engine (319 lbs.) and a TL7 prop (giving 3.5x thrust) would increase the plane's performance as well as reduce design weight.
Japan license-built the T-34 as the LM-1 and LM-2 (a four-seat liaison version), also referred to as the "Fugi."
The T34C Turbo-Mentor featured a 298-kW turbocharged engine. The plane had a top speed was 246 mph and a loaded weight of 4,300 lb. 352 built, with the last being delivered in 1990. The T-34C-1 included four underwing hardpoints with a total capacity of 1,200 lb. for use in forward air control and tactical attack training.
From the Aerodrome for GURPS
© 2008 by Jim Antonicic