FAA grounds T-34 fleet

Full article here.

That’s too bad. The T-34 is one of my favourite airplanes. Indeed, I was fantasizing about having one while I was driving back from Phoenix. It would have made for a much shorter trip than the Jeep!

The T-34 Mentor first flew in 1948 and entered service in 1953 as an ab initio trainer for the Navy (T-34B) and Air Force (T-34A), and was basically a development of the Beechcraft Model 35 Bonanza (an airplane that has had its own inflight breakup issues, which have been corrected). It is powered by a six-cylinder Continental engine. The Navy version had a more powerful engine than the Air Force version, and had a little more dihederal in the wings.

In 1973 the T-34C Turbo Mentor was added with its Pratt & Whitney turbine engine, and the first student trainied in it in 1978. AFAIK, no ex-military T-34Cs have been sold to the public, but Beechcraft perceived a demand for them and made an unsuccessful attempt to market them in the '80s or '90s. Unfortunately, the price tag of $1.34 million each was too dear and I believe they never sold any. (The last time I looked, in the early-to-mid-1990s, a completely restored ex-Navy T-34B sold at auction at Santa Monica Airport for $250,000.)

I hope that Raytheon Beechcraft will find a solution that will keep these pretty little aircraft flying.

Incredibly, this happened right after the publication of this Smithsonian Air & Space article about several independent efforts to fix the original wing spar problem after Beech essentially punted. Look for yet more Alternative Means of Compliance certification efforts now that a new failure location has been identified.

Damn, the link disappeared. Here: http://www.airandspacemagazine.com/ASM/Mag/Index/2005/DJ/svmt.html

Incidentally, there have been a few turbine conversions undertaken by T-34A or T-34B owners. IIRC, they usually use an Allison engine.

When I saw this thread, my first thought was “Why would they be flying Russian WW2 battle tanks around in the first place?”

T-34c, AKA the Turbo Mentor.



What I was saying is that some T-34A and T-34B aircraft, which were originally delivered with Continental piston engines, have been converted to turbine power by their civilian owners. These conversions are readily recognised by the different vertical stabilizers, lack of, or different profile to the ‘skeg’ under the empanage, and a different profile on the cowling. The military T-34C uses a Pratt & Whitney PT6-25A turbine, but I think the civil conversions use an Allison.

Ugh. That’s what I get for not reading carefully.

I’ve got about five hours in a T-34, including some aerobatics. I’m beginning to think I dodged a bullet.

Nice airplane. Easy to handle, good in acro. Too bad this may be strike three for the type.

It comes from thousands of hours playing Tony Hawk video games. You start to think you can do any damn thing.