|Length:||28 ft 8½ in (8.75 m)|
|Wingspan:||33 ft 3⅞ in (10.16 m)|
|Height:||9 ft 7 in (2.92 m)|
|Wing area:||179.6 ft² (16.69 m²)|
|Empty weight:||2,960 lb (1,342 kg)|
|Max. takeoff weight:||4,300 lb (1,950 kg) (T-34C-1 weapons trainer – 5,500 lb (2,494 kg))|
|Powerplant:||1 × Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-25 turboprop, 715 shp (533 kW) (derated to 400 shp (298 kW))|
|Never exceed speed:||280 knots (518 km/h, 322 mph) (IAS)|
|Cruise speed:||214 knot (396 km/h, 246 mph) max cruise at 17,000 ft (5,180 m)|
|Stall speed:||53 knots (98 km/h, 61 mph) flaps down, power off|
|Range:||708 nmi (1,311 km, 814 mi) at 180 knots (333 km/h, 207 mph) and 20,000 ft (6,100 m)|
|Service ceiling:||30,000 ft (9,145 m)|
|Rate of climb:||1,480 ft/min (7.5 m/s)g limit:+4.5, -2.3|
|Hardpoints:||4 with a capacity of 600 lb (272 kg) inner, 300 lb (136 kg) outer, 1,200 lb (544 kg) total|
The Beechcraft T-34 Mentor is a propeller-driven, single-engined, military trainer aircraft derived from the Beechcraft Model 35 Bonanza. The earlier versions of the T-34, dating from around the late 1940s to the 1950s, were piston-engined. These were eventually succeeded by the upgraded T-34C Turbo-Mentor, powered by a turboprop engine. The T-34 remains in service almost six decades after it was first designed.
Cactus Air Force owns 2 T-34 Mentors.
The G-709 is owned by Cactus Air Force, Wings and Wheels Museum and is in flying condition.
This aircraft is owned by Cactus Air Force and is being restored.
The T-34 was the brainchild of Walter Beech, who developed it as the Beechcraft Model 45 private venture at a time when there was no defense budget for a new trainer model. Beech hoped to sell it as an economical alternative to the North American T-6/NJ Texan, then in use by all services of the U.S. military.
Three initial design concepts were developed for the Model 45, including one with the Bonanza’s signature V-tail, but the final design that emerged in 1948 incorporated conventional tail control surfaces for the benefit of the more conservative military (featuring a relatively large unswept vertical fin that would find its way onto the Travel Air twin-engine civil aircraft almost ten years later). The Bonanza’s fuselage with four-passenger cabin was replaced with a narrower fuselage incorporating a two-seater tandem cockpit and bubble canopy, which provided greater visibility for the trainee pilot and flight instructor. Structurally, the Model 45 was much stronger than the Bonanza, being designed for +10g and -4.5g, while the Continental E-185 engine of 185 horsepower (hp) at takeoff (less than a third of the power of the T-6’s engine) was the same as that fitted to contemporary Bonanzas.
Following the prototype were three Model A45T aircraft, the first two with the same engine as the prototype and the third with a Continental E-225 which would prove to be close to the production version. Production did not begin until 1953, when Beechcraft began delivering T-34As to the United States Air Force (USAF) and similar Model B45 aircraft for export. Production of the T-34B for the United States Navy (USN) began in 1955, this version featuring a number of changes reflecting the different requirements of the two services. The T-34B had only differential braking for steering control on the ground instead of nosewheel steering, additional wing dihedral and, to cater for the different heights of pilots, adjustable rudder pedals instead of the moveable seats of the T-34A.T-34A production was completed in 1956, with T-34Bs being built until October 1957 and licensed B45 versions built in Canada (125 manufactured by Canadian Car and Foundry), Japan (173 built by Fuji Heavy Industries),and Argentina (75 by FMA) until 1958. Beechcraft delivered the last Model B45s in 1959. Total production of the Continental-engined versions in the US and abroad was 1,904 aircraft.
The first flight of the Model 45 was on 2 December 1948, by Beechcraft test pilot Vern Carstens. In 1950 the USAF ordered three Model A45T test aircraft, which were given the military designation YT-34. A long competition followed to determine a new trainer, and in 1953 the Air Force put the Model 45 into service as the T-34A Mentor, while the USN followed in May 1955 with the T-34B.
The US Air Force began to replace the T-34A at the beginning of the 1960s, their role taken over by the propeller-driven T-41 Mescalero and the T-37 Tweet primary jet trainer. Many USAF T-34A aircraft were turned over to the USAF Auxiliary, the Civil Air Patrol, for use as search aircraft. However, the T-34’s low wing limited its utility in a search and rescue role, and maintenance issues, particularly expensive wing spar repairs that became apparent in the late 1990s, resulted in the T-34As being withdrawn from CAP service beginning in 2003.
The U.S. Navy kept the T-34B operational as a Naval Air Training Command initial primary trainer until the mid-1970s and as a Navy Recruiting Command aircraft until the early 1990s when the last examples were retired as an economy move. Others continue to remain under U.S. Navy control as part of flying clubs at naval air stations and marine corps air stations.
As of 2007, Mentors are still used by several air forces and navies.