Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Attack of the Kansans

To produce the thousands of crews needed by the Army Air Forces to man the B-17s, -24s, -25s and -29s pounding Europe and various Pacific islands, over 1,500 bomber trainers were ordered from Beechcraft. Designated the AT-11 Kansan, they were based on the AT-7 navigator trainer, itself based on the civilian Beech Model C18S.

The nose was modified to accommodate the bombardier, a gun turret was added to the roof, and a  tunnel gun served to train the tail gunner. Before moving into the bigger aircraft, bomber crews would learn the art of high- and low-level formation bombing, and defending themselves against attacking fighters.

Our photo is an official AAF 11x14 print, shot on an unidentified bombing range (presumably Deming Army Airfield in New Mexico; if you recognize it, let me know!) complete with miniature ships, a port, towns and industrial buildings. A formation of five Kansans are  dropping 100-pound sand-filled practice bombs. In order to move on in their training, crews had to demonstrate a 22% on-target proficiency rate. By war's end, over 90% of the more than 45,000 bomber crews had trained in the AT-11.

An interesting article on Deming can be found here. Between when the first class graduated in March 1943 and the school closed in September 1946, over 12,000 cadets received their training at Deming. If you're one of them, please use the comment section below and tell us about your experience there!

(Many thanks, once again, to Brother Eric for finding and acquiring this remarkable image!)

No comments:

Post a Comment