C-45 Lil Raider Gulf Coast Wing
Conroe/North Houston Regional Airport, Conroe, TX
|Role||Trainer / Utility|
|Power||2 × Pratt & Whitney R-985-AN-1 "Wasp Junior" radial engines, 450 hp|
|Length||34 ft 2 in|
|Height||9 ft 8 in|
|Wingspan||47 ft 8 in|
The 1947 Beechcraft model D18S arrived at Hooks Airport in Spring, Texas in August of 2016 from her former home in Ft. Worth. Routinely referred to as a “Twin Beech,” over 9,000 of these aircraft were produced at Beechcraft in Wichita Kansas, making it one of the world's most widely used light aircraft. 4,500 of them saw military service during and after WWII.
Commonly referred to with the military designation of C-45, these aircraft were used in the military as light transports, light bombers, and photo-reconnaissance planes. Large numbers of them also saw service as aircrew trainers for bombing, navigation and gunnery. In World War II, over 90% of USAAF bombardiers and navigators trained in these aircraft, so the aviators who flew in the nose of the Gulf Coast Wing’s B-17 Flying Fortress Texas Raiders almost certainly trained in a variant of the C-45 like this one. About 250 of the aircraft remain airworthy today.
Sporting tail number N197L, the twin-engine tail dragger is painted in Navy livery and marked as a USN JRB Navigator. She carries two Pratt & Whitney R-985 radial engines generating 450 horsepower each. The aircraft was manufactured in 1947 and is now configured inside to seat six, including pilot and co-pilot.
During and after World War II, over 4,500 Beech 18s saw military service—as light transport, light bomber (for China), aircrew trainer (for bombing, navigation and gunnery), photo-reconnaissance, and "mother ship" for target drones—including United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) C-45 Expeditor, AT-7 Navigator, AT-11 Kansan; and United States Navy (USN) UC-45J Navigator, SNB-1 Kansan, and others. In World War II, over 90% of USAAF bombardiers and navigators trained in these aircraft.