T-34 Mentor, an American single-engine, propeller-driven military trainer, developed by Beechcraft.

The T-34 was developed based on the single-engine, piston-powered Beechcraft Model 35 “Bonanza”. It made its maiden flight in December 1948, and entered service in 1953. Since the late 1970s, T-34Cs have been used by the Naval Air Training Command to train numerous Naval Aviators and Naval Flight Officers for the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Coast Guard, and numerous NATO and Allied nations. With over 35 years of service, the T-34C has been completely replaced by the T-6 Texan II.

Basically, the T-34 was influenced by the design of World War 2 propeller fighters. The engine was mounted at the front of the fuselage, followed by the tandem-seat cockpit. The student and instructor sit in a bubble canopy with great views. T-34C has an empty weight of about 1.4 tons, maximum take-off weight is 1.95 tons. It has a length of 8.75m, a wingspan of 10.1m, and a height of 9.92m.

T-34C Mentor
T-34C Mentor

The main wings were low-mounted monoplanes under the cockpit, the tail was conventionally arranged with a single vertical tail fin and a pair of horizontal planes. The undercarriage consisted of two main landing legs under each wing, the other in the nose below the engine.

The T-34C is powered by a Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-25 turboprop engine, with 550 hp, driving a 3-bladed Hartzell propeller. The T-34C can reach the maximum and cruise speeds of 518km/h and 396km/h respectively, a range of about 1,300 km, a service ceiling of 9,100 meters and a Rate of climb of 7.5 m/s.

In addition to the training versions, Beechcraft developed an armed version, the T-34C-1, for export. Armed forces that received the T34C-1 include: Argentina Navy, Taiwan Air Force, Ecuadorian Air Force and Navy, Gabon Presidential Guard, Indonesian Air Force, Moroccan Air Force, Peruvian Navy and Uruguayan Navy. It was introduced in 1977.

Despite being a classic aircraft with roots in the 1950s of the last century, the T-34 has proven to be a great trainer for the Navy and Marines. Today, very few T-34s still flying are in original stock configuration.  Most of the planes have had powerplant upgrades to the Continental 520 or 550 engines. T-34 Mentors have become very popular warbirds welcomed at air shows. They are owned by military and civilian flying clubs as well as many individuals. The number of T-34s in military flying clubs is not known. There are currently about 200 T-34s in civilian hands.


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