Beech C-45/SNB Expeditor 
Fleet Air Arm Expeditor KP110 (ex 44-86991)(c/n 4744) the Admiral's barge with 782 squadron , August, 1945


The Beech C-45 Expeditor was a military version of the civil Beechcraft Model 18 light transport aircraft, one of the most adaptable and versatile twin-engined aircraft built by the USA. The type first flew in 1937 and orders for military versions were placed in 1941 with a total of 5024 being delivered during the war in the variants: AT-7, AT-11, UC-45, C-45, JRB and the SNB.

They were produced, for example, as an advanced trainer in 1941 under the designation AT-7 "Navigator." Many, as C-45Bs, served as transports. Large numbers were lend-leased to the British who called them MK 1 "Expeditors." Yet another version, identifiable by its glassed-in nose, was produced as the AT-11 "Kansan" for training bombardiers. A model fitted out for photographic duties was called the "Discoveror." SNB was the US Navy designation, the latter also called the "Bugsmasher" as it was affectionately named by the USN.

236 Expeditors were supplied to the RAF, RCAF and an additional 73 served with the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm under lend-lease. The allied air forces used them in a wide variety of roles including navigational training, bombing and gunnery training, utility transport, search and rescue and aerial photography. As a passenger transport, they were typically configured to carry six people.

Ordered by the US Navy in 1940, the intended use of the C45 as a photography platform was expanded to include administrative and logistic support, the transport of patrol aircraft crews, and as a training aircraft for photo reconnaissance crews. Pilots not assigned to operational squadrons relied on the SNB, to maintain flying proficiency for the purpose of collecting "hazardous duty" pay. As a result, SNB time appears in the log books of most Naval Aviators during the course of the aircraft's thirty years service.

Development of  Standard US navy bombing trainer of WW2.  RAF machines were primarily used in SEAC command.

C-45 Civil B-18s purchased by USAAF
 C-45A 8 seat version
 C-45B Redesigned interior
 C-45C/E Impressed civil variants
 C-45F 7 seat version, lengthened nose
 AT-7A/C & At-11 Trainer versions
 AT-7A/C & At-11  Trainer versions
 F-2; Civil B-18s modified photo-reconnaissance version; two .3in guns, ten 100lb bombs
 JRB-1/4 and SNB-1/2  USMC versions of C-45 and At-7/11
 Expeditor  British and Canadian designation; 430 lend-lease deliveries.

Expeditor C-45 No. 435 of the USAF postwar

The Fleet Air Arm ordered 73 Expeditor CI and CII under Lend-Lease contract No AC-40082 and AC-3213. The first Expeditor, FT985, was delivered to US NAS Anastocia in February 1944 for the British Embassy  in Washington DC, and subsequently others delivered to TOC RN Cochin 13 May 1944 (eg FT982).

The first second-line squadron to receive the Expeditor was 782 squadron at Donibristle from 21 May 1944 (eg FT979, and many were subsequently delivered to 742 squadron at Coimbatore/Sulur throughout 1944 and into 1945. One Fleet Air Arm Expeditor KP110 of 782 squadron detached at  Lee-on-Solent served as the Admiral's barge during August and September, 1945. Others were given individual names by 782 squadron, including :"Merlin 20" (FT977), "Merlin 23" (HB162) and "Merlin L" (HD760).

The type saw service until after the end of WW2 and some returned to the USN in March 1946.

Fleet Air Arm history

     Beech Expeditor
     Total FAA 1939-1945:       73
     First delivered to RN:         2.1944
     First squadron 1939-1945:   782 sqdn 1944
     Operational squadron:         None
     Last served with RN           742 squadron 1945

Aircraft Type:
Beech Expeditor 
Primary Role:
First Flight: 
January 1937
Date operating with FAA squadrons:
1944-end of WW2
Beech Manufacturing Co.
Two 450-hp Pratt & Whitney Wasp R-985-AN-1 engines
 Wing Span: Length: Height: Wing Area: 
Wingspan: 14.5m
Length: 10.4m
Height: 2.8m
Wing Area: 32.4 sq m 
Empty Weight: Max.Weight:
Empty Weight:2672kg
Maximum Take Off Weight:3560kg



Speed: 362km/h 
Ceiling: 6250m 
Range: 1630km
Crew: 1; Freight: 5 or 7 seats.
701,723,724,728,730,733,742,755,781,782, 791,799
Battle honours:
None with FAA
Additional references and notes: See Aviation Enthusiast Corner Museum/Aircraft Reference for Beech

Battle Honours and Operational History
None with FAA

Expeditor SNB-2 in USN markings

Surviving aircraft and relics
There are a number of Expeditors and other Beech 18 marks in existence around the world, although probably less than ten in Airworthy in Europe and Canada. The single airworthy Expeditor on the European display circuit is G-BKGL rebuilt by ARC at Duxford (UK), static examples are also at the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum, Nanton Museum (Canada), and the Aero Space Museum Association of Calgary. A number are also exhibited in Europe and in the USA.

Beech 18 'Expeditor' G-BKGL.rebuilt by ARC Duxford (UK)

Nanton Museum preserved Expeditor CF-MPI

The Nanton Museum Beech-18  Expeditor CF-MPI played a significant role with the aviation division of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Expeditor RC-45J Kansan BuNo09771 Preserved at the NNAM (USA)

Associations and reunions
No information

Nanton Museum and the Beech Expeditor  Details of the example in the Nanton Museum in Canada.
Sturtivant, R. & Burrow, M (1995)  'Fleet Air Arm Aircraft 1939 to1945'  Published by Air Britain (Historians) Ltd, 1995 ISBN: 085130 232 7 
 Beechcraft C-45 Expediter   Photographs of the C-45
Warbird Alley Warbird Alley, an online reference source for information about privately-owned, ex-military aircraft. Includes details and specs and a summary total of airworthy aircraft including the Kansan/Expeditor/Navigator
        Last Modified: 3-4-2000


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