The Beechcraft Model 18 (or “Twin Beech”, as it is also known) is a 6- to 11-seat, twin-engined, low-wing, tailwheel light aircraft manufactured by the Beech Aircraft Corporation of Wichita, Kansas. Continuously produced from 1937 to November 1969 (over 32 years, a world record at the time), over 9,000 were built, making it one of the world’s most widely used light aircraft. Sold worldwide as a civilian executive, utility, cargo aircraft, and passenger airliner on tailwheels, nosewheels, skis, or floats, it was also used as a military aircraft.
During and after World War II, over 4,500 Beech 18s were used in military service—as light transport, light bomber (for China), aircrew trainer (for bombing, navigation, and gunnery), photo-reconnaissance, and “mother ship” for target drones—including United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) C-45 Expeditor, AT-7 Navigator, and AT-11 Kansan; and United States Navy (USN) UC-45J Navigator, SNB-1 Kansan, and others. In World War II, over 90% of USAAF bombardiers and navigators trained in these aircraft.
In the early postwar era, the Beech 18 was the pre-eminent “business aircraft” and “feeder airliner”. Besides carrying passengers, its civilian uses have included aerial spraying, sterile insect release, fish stocking, dry-ice cloud seeding, aerial firefighting, air-mail delivery, ambulance service, numerous movie productions, skydiving, freight, weapon- and drug-smuggling, engine testbed, skywriting, banner towing, and stunt aircraft. Many are privately owned, around the world, with 240 in the U.S. still on the FAA Aircraft Registry in August 2017.
Military SNB versions
- SNB-1: Similar to AT-11; 110 built
- SNB-2: Navigation trainer similar to AT-7, 299 built
- SNB-2C: Navigation trainer similar to AT-7C, 375 built:
- SNB-2H: Ambulance conversion
- SNB-2P: Photo-reconnaissance trainer conversion
- SNB-3Q: Electronic countermeasures trainer conversion
- SNB-5: Remanufactured SNB or JRB
- SNB-5P: Remanufactured SNB-2P
Made in USA. First flight in 1937.
Motor: 2 x Pratt & Whitney R 985
Power: 2 x 450 HP
Max. speed: 370 km/h