Periodically, we have presented reports from Chuck Cravens detailing the restoration of an ultra-rare Beechcraft AT-10 Wichita WWII advanced, multi-engine trainer. As mentioned in previous articles, the project belongs to the Cadet Air Corps Museum and comprises the remains of several airframes, but is primarily focused upon Wichita 41-27322. The restoration is taking place at world-renowned AirCorps Aviation in Bemidji, Minnesota, and here is their latest update on progress with the Wichita as it stands presently….


This great WWII color image of an AT-10 appears to show a ground crewman adjusting its flaps. (image via AirCorps Aviation)

Over the past few months, most of the work on the AT-10 involved the cockpit section, the main fuselage, and the vertical fin. Indeed a major milestone saw the cockpit section mounted to the main fuselage!

Cockpit

A view inside the AT-10’s cockpit showing the location where the instrument panel will mount. (image via AirCorps Aviation)
The flat anti-glare black paint over and ahead of the instrument panel is visible in this photo. Aaron was working on restoring the windshield frame at this time. The clecoes are holding the parts together for riveting. (image via AirCorps Aviation)
The throttle console and main electrical box are masked for painting. (image via AirCorps Aviation)
The cockpit section as it looked following painting prep. (image via AirCorps Aviation)
The cockpit interior looks great after painting. The dark green is an unusual color, but was matched exactly to a protected color sample from the original cockpit. (image via AirCorps Aviation)

Fuselage

Work on the fuselage included attaching handholds and footsteps. Once that was completed, the restoration team prepared the two main fuselage sections for mating together. 

The AT-10 has a handhold just over the trailing edge of the wing. Another handhold is mounted between the porthole windows. (image via AirCorps Aviation)
These eight large bolts help attach the aluminum cockpit section to the wooden fuselage. (image via AirCorps Aviation)
The first test mating of the cockpit section to the main fuselage was successful. (image via AirCorps Aviation)
Project manager Aaron Prince looks happy with the fit between the cockpit section and the main fuselage. (image via AirCorps Aviation)
This AT-10 tailwheel is New Old Stock, and has never been mounted on an aircraft before. It came in a box which was packed in 1952. (image via AirCorps Aviation)
The fuselage has been moved to another area of the workshop to make room in the woodworking area for restoring the wing center section and the horizontal stabilizer. (image via AirCorps Aviation)
This is a view from the rear of the tailwheel mount. (image via AirCorps Aviation)
A side view of the tailwheel mount. (image via AirCorps Aviation)
An original AT-10 abbreviated pilot’s checklist card and case are mounted to the side of the throttle console. (image via AirCorps Aviation)
The other side includes navigation and frequency information for Freeman Army Airfield near Seymour, Indiana. (image via AirCorps Aviation)

Vertical Fin

Project manager Aaron Prince finished the vertical fin’s internal structure. After completing this task, he had to cut and shape the skins so that they conformed to the fin’s structure; the compound curvature near the top of the rudder was especially challenging.

The rudder hinges have been installed. (image via AirCorps Aviation)
A skin section is soaked in ammonia and water to make it sufficiently pliable for forming over the curved sections. (image via AirCorps Aviation)
After drying, the curve induced by the soaking and forming process is visible in this vertical stabilizer skin. (image via AirCorps Aviation)
The compound curvature is clearly visible in this concave side of the vertical stabilizer skin. (image via AirCorps Aviation)
Epoxy coats the areas of the skin which will not have glue applied. (image via AirCorps Aviation)
The left side skin has been permanently glued to the
vertical fin frame. (image via AirCorps Aviation)
The gluing strips help hold the skin tightly in place while the epoxy hardens. (image via AirCorps Aviation)
Aaron has glued on the second skin and used nailing strips to hold it in place. (image via AirCorps Aviation)
The vertical fin structure is essentially complete in this image, needing only another hinge and its fabric covering. (image via AirCorps Aviation)
Here is the vertical with the rudder frame attached. (image via AirCorps Aviation)
The fin and rudder are in place on the fuselage as the fit is checked. (image via AirCorps Aviation)
Here is a view from the left side of the fin and rudder sitting on the fuselage. (image via AirCorps Aviation)
It is great to see the main fuselage with the tailcone, fin, and rudder in place. (image via AirCorps Aviation)

Want to get involved?

AirCorps Aviation is constantly looking for new technical material related to the AT-10. Due to the rarity of this aircraft, and the relatively low number produced, acquiring engineering drawings, parts catalogs, maintenance manuals, and other documentation has been much more difficult than with our past restorations. If you have any AT-10 material or know someone who does, the team would love to hear from you!

Be a part of helping the AT-10 return to the skies! Contact Ester Aube, by email or phone [email protected] or 218-444-4478

Furthermore, should anyone wish to contribute to the Cadet Air Corps Museum’s efforts, please contact board members:

Brooks Hurst: phone: +1 816 244 6927, e-mail: [email protected] Todd Graves: e-mail: [email protected]

Contributions are tax-deductible.


And that’s all for this edition of the AT-10 Restoration Report. Many thanks to Chuck Cravens and AirCorps Aviation for this article.