Beech Model 18

The Beech Model 18, feeder-liner first flew in January, 1937 at Wichita, and was an immediate success. It followed Walter Beech’s Staggerwing into production with a variety of engine options (Wringt, Pratt & Witney, Jacobs), and the last model came off the line in November, 1969; a longer production run than even the mighty DC3!!

The US military soon noticed this agile little transport and ordered it in a variety of guises, such as the AT7, AT11, F.2, SNB-1 to 5, JRB1 to 4, plus later 3n, NM and –TM variants, and these variants were used throughout WW2 as trainers for a multitude of uses. The C45 (-A to –F) and UC45 transport versions were used extensively as small transports and VIP aircraft, and served throughout the 40’s, 50’s, 60’s and 70’s in the training and transport role. They were operated by the RAF in SE Asia Command and by the Royal Navy, that had some 300 of the type for use as ‘Admiral’s Barges’!! The USAF continued to use the type into the 1970’s and it rendered good service to the service during the Korean War and also to many Western Air Forces post WW2.

GBKGL

History of "GBKGL"

Beech 18-3TM

Beech18 – 3TM, registered as G-BKGL on the UK register, which was built at some stage during WW2 and ‘re-manufactured’ in 1951 by the Beech company for delivery to the RCAF with the c/n CA164. It was taken on charge by the RCAF on 24th April, 1952 and given the Serial No 1564 but was later re-numbered 5193, and posted to the Air Defence Command at Chatham, New Brunswick on 29th April, 1952. On 3rd March, 1958 she moved to No 104 Communications Flight at St Hubert, Quebec, and later on to the Canadian Armed Forces Mobile Command at the same location. On 31st October, 1966 she moved to No 3FTS at Portage la Prairie, Manitoba and was operated both there and also at Winnipeg by No 5Air Navigation School. Until 5th February, 1970, when she was flown to Saskatoon for disposal by the Crown Asset’s Disposal Corporation, who declared her ‘surplus’ on 17th February, 1971.

Her civilian life began in Saskatoon when she was purchased by the Giltaur Space Research Corporation on 2nd May, 1971 and registered C-FQPD under Canadian Type Approval No A100, and FAA Type Approval A765. Giltaur did not keep her long, and sold her on 19th October, 1972 to Capital Air Surveys of Pembroke, Ontario, with whom she was painted in an all-red scheme. This company carried out a lot of aerial survey work, and during one of their missions to Europe, with three Beech 18’s, the company went bankrupt, and the three machines, including C-FQPD found themselves in open storage at Prestwick during their ferry flight from North Africa.

Meanwhile, at Duxford, home of the British Aerial Museum (BAM), Graeme Warner had been looking for a Beech 18 to act as a support aircraft for their Blenheim re-build project, and also as a pilot-trainer for this unique and historic British aircraft. Graeme heard about the aircraft stranded at Prestwick, and visited the airfield where he found three nice Beech 18’s but owned by two different finance companies, so negotiations were protracted! One aircraft, C-FDTN was in very good shape with low hours and metal covered control surfaces, and it was this machine that Graeme wanted. However, its owner wanted the same sum of money for this single aircraft as the other finance company wanted for their pair, of C-FQPD and C-FSUQ (c/n CA203), so Graeme bought the pair with the idea of using ‘UQ as a spares ship. Registered G-BKGL and G-BKGM, the two machines were prepared for a ferry flight to Duxford, whilst the third eventually became G-BKRN and found its way to the Scottish Aircraft Collection at East Fortune. When the pair arrived at Duxford, Anthony Hutton persuaded Graeme to part with ‘GM and this now flies with Anthony’s collection in Wales in a snappy USAF SAC Scheme.

Meantime, the BAM teal under John Romain, stripped ‘GL down to bare metal, overhauled the entire airframe and engines, removed the square Model G wing tips, renewed the cabin floor, and deleted the auto-pilot, cabin heating and de-icing systems. The Cabin was refurbished and fitted with new seating, and the whole aircraft finished in a 1943 US Navy scheme of Dark Sea Blue over Dove Grey with the correct US markings. A UK CAA Standard Airworthiness certificate was applied for, and the aircraft appeared on the UK Air Show circuit from 1983 onwards. She was a delight to fly and was very popular as well as useful in her role as a Blenheim Trainer.

In 1989 the BAM decided to thoroughly overhaul the aircraft again, and this work was carried out over a year with interior fittings being either totally refurbished or replaced, and a 1942 USAAC all silver scheme painted on with the correct insignia. At this time, the BAM became the Aircraft Restoration Company (ARC), and they continued to own and operate the ‘twin-Beech’ as she is known. However, in the late 1990’s with the Blenheim on yet another re-build, it was decided to dispose of the Beech 18, and in 1998 she was bought by Tim Darrah, another Cathay Pacific Boeing 747 Captain and colleague of Martin Willing’s. Together with Martin’s T28, G-BKGL became part of Radial Revelation, and is still a proud member of this company today.