|Type||Privately held company|
|Headquarters||Wichita, Kansas, United States|
Beechcraft Corporation is an American manufacturer of general aviation and military aircraft, ranging from light single-engined aircraft to twin-engined turboprop transports, and military trainers. A division of Raytheon from 1980, and later a brand of Hawker Beechcraft after 2006, Beechcraft has been an independent company since February 2013.
Beech Aircraft Company was founded in Wichita, Kansas, in 1932 by Walter Beech and his wife Ann Mellor Beech. The company began operations in an idle Cessna factory. With designer Ted Wells, they developed the first aircraft under the Beechcraft name, the classic Model 17 Staggerwing, which first flew in November 1932. Over 750 Staggerwings were built, with 270 manufactured for the United States Army Air Forces during World War II.
Beechcraft was not Beech's first company, as he had previously formed Travel Air in 1924 and the design numbers used at Beechcraft followed the sequence started at Travel Air, and were then continued at Curtiss-Wright, after Travel Air had been absorbed into the much larger company in 1929. Beech became President of the Curtiss-Wright's airplane division and VP of sales, but became dissatisfied with being so far removed from aircraft production and quit to form Beechcraft, using the original Travel Air facilities and employing many of the same people. Model numbers prior to 11/11000 were built under the Travel Air name, while Curtiss-Wright built the CW-12, 14, 15 and 16 as well as previous successful Travel Air models (mostly the model 4).
In 1942 Beech won its first Army-Navy "E" Award production award and became one of the elite five percent of war contracting firms in the country to win five straight awards for production efficiency, mostly for the production of the Beechcraft Model 18 which remains in widespread use worldwide. Beechcraft ranked 69th among United States corporations in the value of World War II military production contracts.
After the war, the Staggerwing was replaced by the revolutionary Beechcraft Bonanza with a distinctive V-tail. Perhaps the best known Beech aircraft, the single-engined Bonanza has been manufactured in various models since 1947. The Bonanza has had the longest production run of any airplane, past or present, in the world. Other important Beech aircraft are the King Air/Super King Air line of twin-engined turboprops, in production since 1964, the Baron, a twin-engined variant of the Bonanza, and the Beechcraft Model 18, originally a business transport and commuter airliner from the late 1930s through the 1960s, which remains in active service as a cargo transport.
In 1950, Olive Ann Beech was installed as president and CEO of the company, after the sudden death of her husband from a heart attack on 29 November of that year. She continued as CEO until Beech was purchased by Raytheon Company on 8 February 1980. Ted Wells had been replaced as Chief Engineer by Herbert Rawdon, who remained at the post until his retirement in the early 1960s.
In 1994, Raytheon merged Beechcraft with the Hawker product line it had acquired in 1993 from British Aerospace, forming Raytheon Aircraft Company. In 2002, the Beechcraft brand was revived to again designate the Wichita-produced aircraft. In 2006, Raytheon sold Raytheon Aircraft to Hawker Beechcraft. Since its inception Beechcraft has resided in Wichita, Kansas, also the home of chief competitor Cessna, the birthplace of Learjet and of Stearman, whose trainers were used in large numbers during WW2.
The entry into bankruptcy of Hawker Beechcraft on 3 May 2012 ended with its emergence on 16 February 2013 as a new entity, Beechcraft Corporation, with the Hawker Beechcraft name being retired. The new and much smaller company will produce the King Air line of aircraft as well as the T-6 and AT-6 military trainer/attack aircraft, the piston-powered single-engined Bonanza and twin-engined Baron aircraft. The jet line was discontinued, but the new company will continue to support the aircraft already produced with parts, plus engineering and airworthiness documentation.
By October 2013 the company, now financially turned around, was up for sale.
- Model 16 Single-engined, all-metal training aircraft. Designed and flight tested in Liberal, KS in 1970. The wings and tail section were two feet shorter than the Model 19. It had a Lycoming O-235 engine rated at 125 hp (93 kW). Only one was ever built because Mrs. Beech did not like the aircraft.
- Model 17 Staggerwing Single-radial-engined fabric-covered biplane utility aircraft, tailwheel landing gear
- Model 18 Twin Beech Twin-radial-engined all-metal utility aircraft, tailwheel landing gear
- Model 19 Sport Single-engined, all metal training aircraft, tricycle landing gear
- Model 23 Musketeer and Sundowner Single-engined all-metal training aircraft, nosewheel landing gear
- Model 24 Sierra Development of the Musketeer
- Model 34 Twin-Quad Prototype small airliner; the largest aircraft ever built by Beechcraft
- Model 33 Debonair Development of the Bonanza, with conventional empennage
- Model 35 Bonanza Single-engined utility aircraft, nosewheel landing gear, V-tail
- Model 36 Bonanza Single-engined utility aircraft, nosewheel landing gear, conventional tail
- Beechcraft Model 40 A Twin-engined Bonanza, only one produced unique "over-under" arrangement of engines
- Model 50 Twin Bonanza Twin-engined utility aircraft; despite its name was not a development of the Bonanza
- Models 55, 56 and 58 Baron Twin-engined high-performance utility aircraft; derived from the Model 95 Travel Air, Model 58 with fuselage derived from the Model 36 Bonanza
- Model 60 Duke Twin-engined high-performance utility aircraft
- Models 65, 70, 80 and 88 Queen Air Twin-engined transport aircraft; derived from the Model 50 Twin Bonanza
- Model 76 Duchess Twin-engined development of the Musketeer
- Model 77 Skipper Single-engined two-seat primary trainer with fixed nosewheel landing gear
- Models 90 and 100 King Air Twin-turboprop-engined transport aircraft, developed from the Queen Air
- Models 200 and 300 (Super) King Air Development of the King Air
- Model 95 Travel Air Twin-engine development of the Model 33 Bonanza
- Model 99 Airliner Twin-turboprop-engined small airliner; derived from the Queen Air
- Model 390 Premier Twin-turbofan-engined utility aircraft (Entry Level Jet)
- Model 400 Beechjet Twin-turbofan-engined utility aircraft, originally designed and manufactured by Mitsubishi
- Model 1900 Airliner Twin-turboprop-engined airliner development of Model 200 Super King Air
- Model 2000 Starship Twin-turboprop-engined utility aircraft with canard configuration and pusher propellers.
- UC-43 Traveler Earliest and impressed examples were stock, others had minor alterations to meet Military specifications.
- AT-7 Navigator/C-45/UC-45/CT-128 Expeditor Model 18s built for the Military with minor modifications.
- AT-11 Kansan Military derivative of the Model 18 fitted for training bombardiers and gunners
- CT-134 Musketeer Canadian military derivatives of the Musketeer/Sundowner series.
- AT-10 Wichita Twin-engined trainer built primarily of wood.
- XA-38 Grizzly Prototype 1944 twin-engined attack aircraft.
- T-34 Mentor & T-34C Turbine Mentor Single-engined two-seat trainer loosely derived from straight tail Bonanza.
- U-8A through U-8E Seminole Off-the-shelf Twin Bonanza.
- T-42 Cochise Off the shelf Baron.
- Beechcraft Model 73 Jet Mentor Prototype for two-seat tandem jet trainer.
- C-6 Ute/U-21 Ute Off the shelf King Air.
- U-8F (or later) Seminole Military version of Queen Air.
- C-12 Huron/RC-12 Guardrail/CT-145 Super King Air Super King Air for US and Canadian militaries.
- T-1A Jayhawk Military version of Model 400 used as a trainer for pilots of large aircraft in the US military.
- T-6 Texan II/CT-156 Harvard II redesigned Pilatus PC-9 turboprop two-seat trainer for JPATS competition.
- Beechcraft Plainsman Post-World War II automobile that reached the prototype stage before being cancelled
- AQM-37 Jayhawk Air-launched target drone aircraft with a single rocket engine
- MQM-61A Cardinal Drone aircraft with a single horizontally-opposed two-stroke piston engine and propeller
Beech Factory Airport house Beechcraft's head office, manufacturing facility and runway for test flights.
- Niles, Russ (19 February 2013). "Beechcraft Corporation Emerges From Bankruptcy". AVweb. Retrieved 19 February 2013.
- Peck, Merton J. & Scherer, Frederic M. The Weapons Acquisition Process: An Economic Analysis (1962) Harvard Business School p.619
- Hawker Beechcraft production lists, 1945 – present retrieved 29 November 2008.
- "Hawker Beechcraft Corporation Celebrates Beechcraft 75th Anniversary, American Management Technology". 8 July 2008.
- Pew, Glenn (3 May 2012). "Bankruptcy For Hawker Beechcraft". AVweb. Retrieved 19 February 2013.
- Niles, Russ (17 October 2013). "Beechcraft For Sale". AVweb. Retrieved 18 October 2013.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Beechcraft.|
- Beechcraft web site
- Beechcraft Heritage Museum
- Aerofiles – Beechcraft model information
- Aircraft-Info.net – Beechcraft
- RTP-TV AeroSpace Show: 1942 Beech C-45 Aerobatic Video