The T-34 Mentor is the military version of the Beech Bonanza aircraft. In civilian hands it is a popular low wing aerobatics aircraft. The Air Force received 450 Mentors and the Navy 420. The Mentor was also used by the military forces of at least 10 friendly foreign nations as a trainer. The "Y" designation indicates an aircraft procured for service testing prior to the award of a production contract.
The U.S. Air Force moved to all-jet training during the years from 1960 to 1964, when most of the civilian owned Mentors came on to the market. Curiously, after all-jet training was deemed a failure by the Air Force, it turned to Cessna's 172 Skyhawk, a slow, high-wing prop plane, for the first 30 hours of training.
The aircraft on display at Castle Air Museum was one of three procured in 1950 for testing and evaluation. It served at Randolph, Goodfellow, and James Connally Air Force Bases in Texas. In July 1953, it became a ground instructional airframe at Goodfellow AFB. Production contracts for the T-34 came in 1953. Many Navy T-34s were upgraded with turbo-prop engines.
By kjfitz @ 2007-03-10 14:33:39