USAF T-36A trainer (Beechcraft Model 46 / Canadair CL-60)

EEP1A

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My second post is regarding Beech T-36A, a twin-engine trainer-transport in the early 1950’s. According to ‘Aerofiles’, ‘Two 2300hp P&W R-2800; span: 70'0" length: 52'2". Gross wt: 25,000 lb. Intended to replace C-45s in Air Training Command, a batch of 195 aircraft was ordered, but canceled June 1953 when the first flight of the prototype was a matter of only hours away. 2 built as T-36A, but neither was flown. ‘

This photo was taken at the USAF mock-up inspection of T-36A.
For reference the well known drawing of T-36A is also included.

Anyone has photo of the un-flown prototypes?
 

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Stargazer2006

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From "The Beeches that got away" in Daryl Murphy's "Planes & People" © 2003

"Beech won a 1951 Air Force competition that called for a twin-engine combination trainer-transport with a new look that seemed unrelated to any previous Beech design.

As a transport, the aircraft could carry 12 passengers and a crew. As a trainer, room was provided for three students and an instructor. Powered by twin 2,100 hp P&W R-2800s, it could exceed 300 mph.

With a contract in hand and a huge backlog of both military and commercial business, Beech expanded its work force at a rate of 500 new employees per month and spent millions of dollars building and acquiring new properties to get ready to meet the Air Force' demanding delivery schedule.

Then, just three days before the scheduled first flight of the prototype, the Department of Defense notified Beech (and Canadair, which Beech had licensed to build the T36A in Canada) that the program had been cancelled. $300 million worth of annual business had disappeared overnight. The airplane never flew and was also never seen again."


NOTES:

- the T-36 was to be partly built by Canadair as the CL-60.
- the version of the engine was to be the R-2800-52W.
- the T-36 was Beechcraft's Model 46.
- attachment below from Flight dated 4 January 1952, page 21.
 

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Bailey

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The cancellation was quite a blow to Beech.

Not the best looking aircraft.

3 view from an unknown source, but I suspect it is from Putnam's Beech aircraft and their predecessors.

Regards Bailey.
 

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Stargazer2006

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Then, just three days before the scheduled first flight of the prototype, the Department of Defense notified Beech (and Canadair, which Beech had licensed to build the T36A in Canada) that the program had been cancelled. $300 million worth of annual business had disappeared overnight. The airplane never flew and was also never seen again.
How come no photo of that prototype seems to have surfaced to this day? Did Beech destroy the prototype and all files pertaining to the T-36 on learning it had been cancelled?
 

Stargazer2006

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From the "Wings Over Kansas" website

"With the beginnings of hostilities in Korea, there was a rising demand again from the military forces for aviation support. Beechcraft resumed its role as a supplier of training, transport and utility aircraft. In 1951, an Air Force contract valued around $100 million was offered to design, develop, test and manufacture a twin engine trainer T-36A. Beechcraft constructed Plant III as an assembly plant for T-36 production. On June 10, 1953 the department of Defense abruptly cancelled production of the trainers, just hours before its scheduled maiden flight."

 

Stargazer2006

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(continued)

According to Aerofiles, two prototypes were built:

T-36 1953 = 4-12pClwM rg; two 2300hp P&W R-2800; span: 70'0" length: 52'2" v: 300+. Gross wt: 25,000#. Intended to replace C-45s in Air Training Command, a batch of 195 aircraft was ordered, but canceled June 1953 when the first flight of the prototype was a matter of only hours away. POP: 2 built as T-36A, but neither was flown.
 

Stargazer2006

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(continued)

From Beech Aircraft and their Predecessors by A.J. Pelletier. Putnam Aeronautical Books/Naval Institute Press, 1995, p. 111.

"On 11 July 1951 the USAF selected Beechcraft to design and build a new high-performance twin-engine transport-trainer aircraft to replace the Beech C-45s then operated by the Air Training Command. The new aircraft was designated the T-36A and would have been powered by two 18-cylinder 2300-horsepower Pratt & Whitney R-2800 radial engines driving three-bladed propellers for a cruising speed over 300 mph. In the training role, the T-36A would have carried three students and an instructor or as a light transport, it would have carried 12 passengers and a crew of 2.

By November 1951 the Air Force Inspection Board reviewed the full-scale mockup at Beech's facilities in Wichita. By that summer Beech began construction of a new production facility at Beech Field for T-36A production. In January 1953 the final details were fixed and production planned to start for the first batch of 195 aircraft for the USAF with Canadair in Montreal as the main subcontractor.

On 10 June 1953 with the maiden flight of the prototype only an hours away the Department of Defense canceled the T-36A contract and ordered all development activities to cease. Two aircraft were complete, the prototype that was being readied for its maiden flight and a complete static test airframe. Both airframes were scrapped on site in major blow to Beechcraft."
 

Stargazer2006

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(continued)

From Flight, dated 17 August 1951:

"Canadair, meanwhile, is gearing its assembly lines to build the entirely new T-36A, a twin-engined trainer-cum-transport. The Canadair deal, still short of finalization, is the result of three factors:

(1) The production experience and the uncommitted plant space of the Canadair firm;
(2) the lack of plant space at Beechcraft's Wichita, Kansas, factory;
(3) the increasing pressure felt by Washington from Canada's Defence Production Department.

While the estimated quantity for export is 300 aircraft, it is highly probable that Canadair will receive extra orders for the trainer from the R.C.A.F."
 

Stargazer2006

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Bailey said:
Not the best quality....but the best we've got.
No more so! Look what I just found!

This was found in Google's cache for a HyperScale Forums page that no longer exists! The contributor was a Mark Aldrich.
 

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Bailey

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Deleted, we both got there at the same time ;D
 

Stargazer2006

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Whoops! Great minds! The page is up again and I was going to share the link but you beat me to it!!! LOL

Now we've got two great pics of this extremely rare bird. Thanks for sharing!

Link: http://www.network54.com/Forum/149674/thread/1213418209/1213466886/What+is+it-
 

Mark Nankivil

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I happen to know Mark Aldrich and fired off an e-mail to him. That is the only photo he has but here is the artwork used in the article. Thanks Mark!

Enjoy the Day! Mark
 

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Stargazer2006

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Beautiful! Nothing beats teamwork folks! ;)

I'm intrigued by the strong tail dihedral on the hangar photograph as opposed to the artistic renderings which show much less slanted rudders...
 

Jos Heyman

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It is also interestintg to note that the hangar photo does not display a serial or civilian registration. Surely, if this was the prototype to be flown, it would have had some identification os fome sorts. May be the hangar photo was the mock-up. Btw, does anybody know the serials?
 

Stargazer2006

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Not only the military serials for the prototypes are unknown (though I suspect 51-398/399 as a possible candidate, or perhaps 52-2125/2126), but the Beechcraft manufacturing numbers are also undocumented. It really seems like everyone wanted to obliterate that bird from memory... :-[
 

Stargazer2006

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No trace of an order for 195 aircraft anywhere in 1951 or 1952. The closest is 52-5531/5728, which represents 197 aircraft (perhaps the first or last two of that slot were prototypes for a different type?).
 

Bailey

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The other question that has not been answered, is were there any competitors for the contract, who were they and what were they? Cessna and Fairchild perhaps?
 

Jos Heyman

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As far as the serials are concerned: I have 51-398/399 as cancelled KC-97F. Perhaps 52-5531/5728 is the best bet.
 

walter

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Stargazer2006`s remark that the T-36A could also have been ordered by the RCAF, may be substantiated by attached picture. I got it from my friend Nico Braas who added that it comes from official Canadair PR material.
Enjoy it and don`t you love all this digging in history? ;D
 

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EEP1A

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Bailey said:
Found. a photo to prove it did exist ! :D

From here http://www.sim-outhouse.com/sohforums/showthread.php?t=17&page=93

Not the best quality....but the best we've got.
Actually I started a thread of Beech Aircraft T-36A on November 2006, without any reply.

http://www.secretprojects.co.uk/forum/index.php/topic,1109.0/highlight,t-36.html

At that time I posted the same photo which I took from an old US aviation magazine (forgot the name). This is an advertisement of Beech Aircraft Corporation and it clearly states that this is a photo of Mock-up Inspection group posed in front of the dummy or mock-up T-36A prototype.

EEP1A
 

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Stargazer2006

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Thanks for the info, and sorry for not finding your initial thread via the search engine.

The fact that some pictures depict the mock-up and not one of the two prototypes may account for the different dihedral of the rudders.
 

frank

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It looks like his subject is "T-36A" where this one is "T-36". IIRC this search engine is fairly sensitive to designation, so if you searched for only "T-36", it's no wonder it didn't find "T-36A". The same issue wouldn't have found "T36" w/o the dash or "T.36", with a period, as many posters use.


Stargazer2006 said:
Thanks for the info, and sorry for not finding your initial thread via the search engine.

The fact that some pictures depict the mock-up and not one of the two prototypes may account for the different dihedral of the rudders.
 

Jos Heyman

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1. Flight issue of 19 June 1953 (p. 772) states that 227 Canadair T-36As were cancelled.
2. Serials 52-5531/5728 represents 198 aircraft, not 197 aircraft. The formula for calculation this is 5728-5531+1. (Always include both numbers in the calculation, eg 10-1 is 9 according to mathematics, but it represents 10 fingers on your hand).
3. There are too many unknown serials blocks in FY 1952 to make educated guesses.
4. Just a thought. Did Beech actually built an aircraft or only a mock-up and static models. This may account for the absence of a serial number on that one photo we have. Note that the aircraft on that pghoto is supported by struts, a good indication that it is a mock-up.
5. Please check the reference again that suggests that the cancellation was made 'hours before the first flight', an improvement over 'three days' as quoted in the other source. Common sense tells me that if after all that work of building an aircraft and making preliminary tests (assuming these took place), you are not going to stop the first flight because your customer does not want the aircraft anymore. At least proof that your design functioned well. May be somebody assumed the 'hours before first flight' idea at one stage and that happily became 'fact' with the passing of time. Would not be the first time.....
 

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By the way, Canadair knew the T-26A as CL-15. There is also a reference to the CL-15A with 2 Armstrong Mamba engines. This might have been the RCAF version.
 

Stargazer2006

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Jos Heyman said:
By the way, Canadair knew the T-26A as CL-15. There is also a reference to the CL-15A with 2 Armstrong Mamba engines. This might have been the RCAF version.
Then why the CL-60 designation mentioned elsewhere?
 

Stargazer2006

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Jos Heyman said:
Did Beech actually built an aircraft or only a mock-up and static models.
From what we can read in the various sources:
- one full-scale mock-up (seen in at least one photograph)
- one flyable prototype (the one whose flight was reportedly cancelled "hours before" — seen in the photos, or is it the mockup?)
- one static test prototype (possibly not completed at that time?)
 

Jos Heyman

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Stargazer wrote: Then why the CL-60 designation mentioned elsewhere?

Yep, that one appears on my list as well - as XT-36. Did not appreciate that it might occur twice. Unfortunately I have this list only as reference (probably from Secret Projects :) ) and I know too little about Canadair aircraft to explain why it is on there twice.
 

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frank said:
It looks like his subject is "T-36A" where this one is "T-36". IIRC this search engine is fairly sensitive to designation, so if you searched for only "T-36", it's no wonder it didn't find "T-36A". The same issue wouldn't have found "T36" w/o the dash or "T.36", with a period, as many posters use.
Nice theory, but completely incorrect.

If you search for "T-36", you will find the topic as it contains "T-36" in it.
If you search for "Beech 36", you will find the topic.

Yes, if you search "T.36" it won't work, as this word isn't found in the topic.

This is a good tip for searching generally. Be too specific and you exclude possible results.
 

Stargazer2006

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overscan said:
frank said:
It looks like his subject is "T-36A" where this one is "T-36". IIRC this search engine is fairly sensitive to designation, so if you searched for only "T-36", it's no wonder it didn't find "T-36A". The same issue wouldn't have found "T36" w/o the dash or "T.36", with a period, as many posters use.
Nice theory, but completely incorrect.

If you search for "T-36", you will find the topic as it contains "T-36" in it.
If you search for "Beech 36", you will find the topic.

Yes, if you search "T.36" it won't work, as this word isn't found in the topic.

This is a good tip for searching generally. Be too specific and you exclude possible results.
You're right. I'm positive I DID a search beforehand and I couldn't find it. Also I NEVER use the dot for US aircraft, only the hyphen. I think what happened is I searched for "Beechcraft T-36" while the title of the other topic contains only "Beech T-36". Blast!

Perhaps both topics could be merged?
 

EEP1A

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overscan said:
Thank you Overscan for merging the topic. And also thank you Stargazer for proposing the merging. I appreciate very much your politeness.

Regarding the Canadair designation of T-36, the article “Nearly, but not quite - Canadair’s Paper Planes’ (Air Enthusiast No. 68, Author: Brian Walters) has some information.

“The CL-15 became a joint venture with Beech, for a twin-engined crew trainer. Intended for use as primarily a navigation trainer, the T-36 was a low-wing aircraft with a pressurized fuselage which could also accommodate up to 14 passengers and powered by two Platt & Whitney R-1820s. Canadair on their own could not bid for the T-36 programme, but in collaboration with Beech – with Canadair as a major subcontractor – this was possible, the type also being seen as a possible ‘export’ to the RCAF for general duties.
Canadair was on the point of making its proposal when the USAF decided that it wanted the more powerful P&W R-2800. The Canadian company revised its submission (re-designated CL-60) and the Beech-Canadair combined was judged to be the winner gaining a contract to supply the USAF with 227 T-36. The American company did not have the capacity to meet the production schedule – hence the tie-up – so Canadair undertook about 40% of the design and built three pre-production sets of components, as well as assembling the prototype. Metal was cut on the first three pre-production shipsets, but alas that is as far as it got because the T-36 became a victim of the US 1953 defense cuts. No USAF serial numbers ever appear to have been allocated to the T-36s, an unusual occurrence considering the status of production. Canadair considered the installation of Armstrong-Siddeley Mamba turboprop, in place of the piston engines and even toyed with the idea of adapting the aircraft as CL-42 executive aircraft, it was judged to be too difficult to change the military features for civilian certification.”

EEP1A
 

Stargazer2006

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Excellent source of information! Thank you so much, I think we're really getting somewhere piecing the puzzle of the T-36. I find it hard to believe, though, that an order for 227 aircraft could have been placed without any serials being allocated...
 

Stargazer2006

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I've compiled several new sources into this short article which complements what's already been written previously in this topic:

In January 1953, the last details were fixed in order to start full-scale production of the largest aircraft ever designed by Beechcraft. Canadair was allocated 40% of the detail design and 60% of production because of the larger capacity of its Montreal plant, while a new factory was completed by Beechcraft in Wichita especially for the remainder of the contract.

However, the T-36 was canceled on June 10, 1953, just as the prototype was ready to fly. Canadair's US$100 million contract called for 227 aircraft, Beechcraft's contract was for 193 aircraft (not including the 2 prototypes), for a planned total of 420 production aircraft. According to the official announcement at the time, the T-36 was reviewed as part of a $5,090,000,000 reduction in the 1954 USAF appropriation, and was eventually eliminated as being "not essential to the Air Force pilot, navigator, and bombardier's training program" on the grounds that its duties could be "handled by other types". Beechcraft was nevertheless supposed to complete two aircraft, but apparently this never came to be.

Overnight, half of Beechcraft's order backlog was lost, and the employment level of 13,000 was also reduced by half. The company eventually made up for the loss by subcontracting more, and also by expanding its activity to the field of pilotless vehicles, drones, and still taking the lion's share in military sales of general aviation types. Employment at Canadair was also reduced from approximately 12,000 in 1953 to only 10,000 the following year. Some of the workers were soon rehired when Canadair received a contract to build a maritime reconnaissance version of the Bristol Britannia later in the year, and employment further rose with the start of the North American Sabre and Lockheed T-33 production.


Main sources:
- Aeroplane and commercial aviation news, Volume 85
- A history in the making by Donald M. Pattillo
- Beech aircraft and their predecessors Par Alain J. Pelletier
- United States Congress. House Committee on Appropriations hearings
 

Apophenia

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EEP1A said:
...the article “Nearly, but not quite - Canadair’s Paper Planes’ (Air Enthusiast No. 68, Author: Brian Walters)
BTW, that AI article is a paraphrasing of selected texts from Ron Pickler and Larry Milberry's "Canadair: the First 50 Years", CANAV Books, Toronto, 1982.
 
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