INDEX OF NAVAL AIRCRAFT

 

  Beech UC-43 Traveller 
(Beech GB-2 Traveller)
 

History

The Beech Traveller was an american built light military transport biplane with negative or backward staggered wings, which derived from the civilian Beech Model D-17 as a staff transport and designated as the JB-1. The original Beech Model D-17 was built in 1932, as early as 1933 had won the Texaco Trophy race in Miami, Florida. The 'Travellers' were also known as 'Staggerwings' because of their unconventional wing configuration with the lower wing forward of the upper. This design gave them excellent maneuverability and stall characteristics but made it difficult to land.

Three examples of the popular Beech commercial Model 17 "Staggerwing" aircraft, delivered in June 1939 for US Army evaluation, were designated YC43s. These were assigned to the US air attaches at the American Embassies in London, Paris, and Rome in 1939 and were operated by US Army Air Corps personnel.

In 1942 the US Army ordered the first of 270 Model 17s for service in America and overseas re-designated as UC-43s. These differed only in minor details from the commercial model. The US Navy designated them the GB-2 and used them for administrative and logistic operations. They were also procured for lend-lease delivery to Britain and classified as the Beech UC-45 Traveller, 105 sent under lend-lease, the majority (75) of British deliveries went to the FAA.

The Fleet Air Arm ordered 75 Beech Traveller under Lend-Lease on Contract No AC-31386 C 90. Thsse aircraft were shipped from Newark, New Jersey and the shipment arrived in the UK on 16 February, 1944. The first of the aircraft, FT461,  was sent to C & SD squadons of A&AEE, Boscombe Down for assessment from 20 March 1944 specifically for handling tests and for writing the Pilots Notes, then this aircraf was retained for communications (ft461)

The Traveller was then distributed to 700 series units. First first unit to receive the Traveller was 781 sduadron, Admiralty Flight at Heath Row in May 1944 (eg FT465). The aircrfat was used until after the war and then the majority were returned to the US Navy. A few went on to the British Civil register, including FT535 which became G-AIHZ, FT475 which was returned to the USN as Bu32784 but subsequently became N11193V/G-BRVE, FT473 returned to the USN and then became LN-HAK/G-ALNN/F-OACT/F-BATL, and FT465 which became G-AHXI.

Versions
       YC-43                    Civil D-175s purchased for evaluation
       UC-43                    Stanard service variant
       UC-43A/H/J/K     Impressed civil models & various power plants
       GB-1/2                   USN equivalents of UC-73s
       Traveller                RAF and FAA equivalent of above. 105 lend-lease


           Fleet Air Arm history
            Beech Traveller
          Total FAA 1939-1945:             75
            First delivered to RN:              2.1944
            First squadron 1939-1945:        3.1944 A&AEE, 781 sqdn 5.1944
            Last served with RN                1946, more than half returned to USN in 1945-1946
 

Aircraft Type:
Beech UC-43 Traveller (Beech GB-2 Traveller) 
Mark:
I
Primary Role:
Light Transport & Communications
First Flight: 
1932 as Model D-17, 1939 as GB-2 
Date operating with FAA squadrons:
1944-1946
Manufacturer:
Beech
Engine:
One 450hp Pratt & Whitney R-485-An-1 or 3 engine
 Wing Span: Length: Height: Wing Area: 
Wingspan  9.75m
Length 7.97m
Height 3.12m
Wing Area 27.5 sq m
Empty Weight: Max.Weight:
Empty Weight 1400kg
Maximum Take Off Weight 2132kg
Speed: 

Ceiling: 

Range:

Speed 312km/h  at 1525m
Range  800km
Service Ceiling 6100m
Armament: 
None
Crew:
1-4
Squadrons:
701,712,725,730,740,776,778,781,782,787,799
Battle honours:
None with FAA
Additional references and notes:
-

Battle Honours and Operational History
None with FAA


Surviving aircraft and relics

Over 100 Beech Travellers survive worldwide, mainly in the USA. Many Beech Travellers returned from the RN to the US after the war and were renumbered. A few of these former Fleet Air Arm aircraft may be still extant although there has been no research to confirm whether any survive.

Examples of preserved Travellers serving with naval aviation forces includes the aircraft at the National Naval Aviation Museum (USA), and former military examples of the Beech UC-43 Traveler on display at the USAF Museum and another at the National Air & Space Museum.


Traveller GB-2 BuNo 23688 preserved at the NNAM (USA)
National Naval Aviation Museum: The "Traveller" on display (BuNo 23688) was restored and acquired in 1984 through Roy Reagan of Chico, California.
The aircraft on display at the USAF Museum, Dayton, OH (USA), donated by Major Richard River, USAF (Ret.) of Chillicothe, Ohio, was flown to the Museum in May, 1974. It was procured by the US Army during WW II but was assigned to the US Navy as a GB-2. It is painted and marked as a UC-43 assigned to the 8th USAAF in England in 1943 as a liaison aircraft.

Staggerwing Serial No 1: the first Beech aeroplane built in 1932. preserved at the Staggerwing Museum.

BEECH STAGGERWINGS FOR SALE

Beech El7B - Manufactured 1938 serial # 198 - NC 57829 TT
Sell at loss $210,000. Consider trade down to Bonanza. Prefer Cash Sale.
Owner: James Bohlander (847)683-3352
EMail Jim in Illinois if you want more (casa11@juno.com) Summer


Associations and reunions
FURTHER INFORMATION
 
Tullahoma's Staggerwing Museum  Staggerwing Museum Various versions of the streamlined, executive transport, "Staggerwing" bi-planes are on display. Those include the restored Serial Number 1, the first airplane built by Beech Aircraft. The first airplane built by the newly-formed Beech Aircraft Corp. in 1932. 
 Sturtivant, R. & Burrow, M (1995) 'Fleet Air Arm Aircraft 1939 to 1945'  Published by Air Britain (Historians) Ltd, 1995 ISBN: 085130 232 7 
Created 3-4-1999, Modified 3-4-2000

 

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