C-45  Beech 18

The following is a partial history of my C45H (Ex. AT-11)

It was actually re-manufactured in 1954 but the order was placed in the 1952 fiscal year so the AF serial number reflects the fiscal year in which it was ordered rather than a delivery year.

History of C-45H, AF-815

It began as AT-11, Beech c/n 3360, delivered to the USAAF Bombardier Training School at San Angelo Army Field, TX on 25Nov42 as 42-36080.  The AT-11 was distinguished by the large clear plexiglass nose with upside-down U shaped flat bomb sight glass in the lower center, a rectangular window on each side of the nose, four small round windows on each side of the cabin, opening and large rectangular eyebrow windows over each cockpit side window.  On the cabin roof was a covered circular opening with a metal cover where a Crocker-Wheeler turret could be mounted.  This AT-11 served in the USAF until authority was granted for it to be re-manufactured on 19May53.  Re-manufacture was completed in Sep54.

Between 1951 and 1955, Beech, under a series of USAF contracts, put nine-hundred World War II production, AT-7 (289), AT-11 (420),  C-45B (13) and C-45F (178) aircraft through a process of re-manufacture.  Many flew in for the occasion while at least 385 arrived in boxcars from Air Material Command bases such as Hill AFB, Ogden, UT (143) and Norton AFB, San Bernadino, CA (170).  The first stop for all arrivals was the former Air Force base at Herington, KS about seventy-five miles north of Wichita.  Beech leased it as the Korean Conflict broke out and at times, as many as one-hundred, duty-worn USAF Beech 18's could be seen there on the ramp.

Inside the Herington Beech plant a kind of reverse assembly line was in operation.  Both airworthy and box car arrivals had their wings and tail assemblies removed, engines removed and all accessories stripped from the fuselage.  The only fuselage and center section parts that were reconditioned for reuse were the cabin door, No. 9 bulkhead door, nose baggage door, landing gear doors and some flooring.  What remained of the fuselage was then placed in the bone yard outside the plant to be reclaimed for the price of the metal in them.

The suitable wings and tail surfaces were rebuilt at Herington and along with the rest of the reusable and reconditioned parts shipped by railroad to the factory in Wichita.  There the rebuild surfaces and parts were placed on new fuselage/center sections on the regular production line and sandwiched between commercial D18S models.  Surplus and reconditioned P&W R-985 engines were used because new ones were no longer being manufactured.  Hamilton Standard Hydromatic propellers and other parts not available from the Herington operation were purchased or obtained from government stocks.  All wiring, control cables, hosed, fabric control surfaces, wing and tail attachment nuts and bolts were replaced.  The reconditioned steel parts of the outer wings and tail were magnafluxed, ie, magnetically inspected. 

What emerged from the program of re-manufacture were, zero-time aircraft that had: a new model designation, C-45H new USAF serial number 52-10765, new Beech construction number AF-695 and an aircraft that outwardly resembled the D18S.  It seems clear that these re-manufactured aircraft were considered as new aircraft by both Beech and the USAF.  The main changes noticeable when compared with the models that were disassembled at Herington were:

1.   The upper engine nacelle sections were extended further aft giving a more streamlined look and smoother airflow.

2.   The wing leading edge was extended between the fuselage and nacelles.  This increased the wing area and smoothed out the airflow  which improved the                      aerodynamic qualities of the aircraft.

3.   Flush riveting was used on the nose section, nacelles, cowling and nacelle fairing.  It was also used on the leading edge of the top and bottom of the wings                   extending aft to the first stringer back of the wing spar.

4.   New tailwheel and main gear struts and shocks including hydraulic, oleo, main gear drag legs, called walking gear.  A new Goodyear external disc brake.

Not evident at a glance were: a stronger center section and landing gear, new instruments and avionics, separate flight instruments and brake systems for the pilot and copilot and electric fuel booster pumps.  All of the above resulted in: 20% faster cruise, longer range, improved fuel consumption, gross weight of 9300 pounds (increase of 7% to 15% depending on earlier model compared to) and better handling at slow speeds, single engine climb and on the ground. 

It was powered by the same basic engine as its ancestors the P&W R985-AN-14B rated at 450 horsepower and the C-45H had provisions for two crew and four passengers in two seats on each side of the cabin.  Passenger parachutes were stowed on the back of each seat.  Propeller Anti-icing and leading edge wing and tail deicing boot systems were also standard.

It was delivered to the USAF South Carolina Air National Guard, 157th Fighter Interceptor Squadron at Congaree Airbase, Eastover, SC on 16Sep54.  The 157th FIS was equipped with the Lockheed F-80C's at this time.  In Oct 60 it was donated to the Civil Air Patrol at Congaree, SC with

a civilian registration of N498E.  However by Nov61 it had been transferred to the Indiana State Police & Civil Defence Dept., Indianapolis, IN.  By Jun63 it was with the Aeronautics Dept. Purdue University, Lafayette, IN.

Still with the University, by Jan66, it had been re-registered as N480P.

The NTSB accident brief records (1958 - current) don't seem to include anything for AF-815

Subsequent owners:

R.M. Victory, Houston, TX 72, 73

Boatman Hall Ltd, Houston, TX 75, 77

Harran Aircraft Sales Muskogee, OK 79

Titusville Cocoa Flight Center Titusville, FL 80

Robert E. James, Merritt Island, FL 82, 98

   On display at the Valiant Air Command Museum, Tico, FL, Since about 1992

Cecil R. Shuman, Chugiak, AK rgd 19Feb98, 2005

Paul Mattson and Carl Mattson, Frisco, CO May05 - Mar07

Paul Mattson, Frisco, CO Mar07 - Sept12

Don and Lynn Kiel, Whitelaw, WI Sept12 - Present