T-34 Invader Squadron
Fort Worth Meacham Airport, Fort Worth, TX
The Beechcraft T-34 Mentor is a proven trainer of the United States military being in service now for over 6 decades! Coming off of World War II, Beechcraft was working on providing an updated and more economical trainer for the US military to replace and retire the T-6 Texan.
The T-34 Mentor was a cousin to the Beechcraft Model 35 Bonanza. The T-34 finally entered military service in the early 1950s when the United States Air Force began to replace the AT-6 Texan fleet with this new trainer. The T-34 was first step in a military pilot's training before advancing to the T-28 Trojan.
In the mid 1970s, the US Navy began to operate turbine powered variants, also known as the T-34C Turbomentor, and continued to use these as the primary trainer until the introduction of the T-6 Texan II.
The squadron's T-34B still wears the colors of the Fuerza Aerea Dominicana. It started life as a USN trainer in the mid 1950's, but was moved to the Air Force of the Dominican Republic in the late 1970's.
The former BuNo 140802 was used for training pilots at Base Aerea San Isidro/Santo Domingo in the Escuela la Aviacion Militar. If research is done on the number of T-34's operated by the FAD, the number twelve pops up. This is technically correct. The serial numbers begin with 16 to denote T-34B and 00 is actually number 1 and the numbers continue to 11. The squadron's airplane was 1607 as can be seen on the vertical stabilizer when the light is just right. But wait, Parks Industries in Amarillo converted 13 airplanes to the IO-520 engines, repaired the airframes, updated the radios and instrument panels before delivering them to Santo Domingo. What happened to number 13? It was one of the earliest delivered and a big ceremony was held to welcome the new airplanes. One of the FAD pilots was chosen to demonstrate the airplane for the crowd, but came out of a loop too low and hit the ground, totaling the airplane and pilot. It was never put on the FAD books but written off instead. Before they were retired, two others were lost in accidents. One of our members is a former employee of Parks Industries so that is how we got the inside scoop. And now you know..... the rest of the story!
Around Aug of 2001, 802 was sold and left the Dominican Republic for Florida. Several years later it was donated to the CAF. The wing AD's were complied with at New Smyrna Beach before the airplane was delivered to the Commemorative Air Force - Invader Squadron.
There is a lot of work to be done to return the airplane to its former Navy colors of white and orange. Join the squadron today to help bring this T-34B back to original representation! You will be surprised at what your skills do to help, even if you're not a pilot or a mechanic!