The versatile C-45 family of transport and trainer aircraft began life in 1937 as the Beechcraft Model 18 light twin. The Model 18s were widely accepted by commercial aviation operators as a good economical short haul transport prior to the war. The Army Air Corps saw its commercial success and ordered 11 aircraft prior to the beginning of World War 11.
At the outbreak of the war, the Army Air Corps ordered the C-45 into production. Although used primarily as a transport aircraft, the C-45 was also produced in the AT-7 navigational training, AT-11 bombardier/gunnery training and the F-2 photo reconnaissance trainer versions. By the end of the war, Beech had built 4,526 examples of the C-45 and its variants.
The Travis Heritage Center has an example of the C-45H and the AT-11B bombardier/gunnery trainer variant.
Beechcraft built 432 C-45 'H' models of the "Expeditor" at their Wichita, Kansas production line. Our C-45H was built after the war, and was accepted by the United States Air Force on August 16, 1954. She was immediately assigned to the 191st Fighter Bomber Squadron of the Utah Air National Guard as a transport aircraft. In May of 1958, she was transferred to the 151st Consolidated Logistics Maintenance Squadron, also with the Utah Air National Guard. She served with this unit until August 1960, when she was flown to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, AZ., for storage. In February of 1963, our C-45H was dropped from the Air Force inventory and sold to a civilian operator. The C-45H has been restored to mid-1950's United States Air Force markings by the Heritage Center volunteers.
The Heritage Center's AT-11B "Kansan" bombardier/gunnery trainer was also built as Beechcraft's Wichita assembly line. The AT-11 version differed from the C-45 in that it was equipped with the top secret Norden bombsight and a dorsal mounted gun turret. Accepted by the United States Army Air Corps on July 9th, 1942, she was assigned to the 3030th Base Unit at Roswell Field, New Mexico. In November of 1942, she was permanently assigned to the 3009th Base Unit at Carlsbad Field, New Mexico, where she trained gunners and bombardiers until the end of the war. After the Japanese surrender in September of 1945, the AT-11B was sold as surplus by the Reconstruction Finance Corporation.
The AT-11B was recovered from Delaware by volunteers from the Travis Heritge Center and flown to the center in a C-5A by the New York National Guard.
Aircraft specifications are the same except where noted.
Video narration by Dr. David G. Styles, PhD
Video produced by Kim Bolan
Information derived from “Travis Heritage Center” by Nick Veronico copyright Travis AFB Historical Society/Jimmy Doolittle Air and Space Museum Foundation. This book is available from the Jimmy Doolittle Air and Space Museum GIFT SHOP located in the Travis Heritage Center.