From Secret Navy Bomber to Flying Camper

The Beech 18 was a workhorse during the war years.

“It has been estimated that 90% of American bombardiers and navigators in World War II were trained in military model Beech 18s,” according to Jane’s Encyclopedia of Aviation.

The aircraft was sturdy and versatile. It could be configured as a bomber trainer (the M18R and AT-11) by fitting it with a gun turret and bomb rack; as a navigation trainer (AT-7) by installing Plexiglas windows in the floor and a dome on top; or as a transport (C-45) by adding seats.

After the war, many of the aircraft were retained. Navy versions were known as JRB Expeditor transports and SNBs, which servicemen joked stood for “Secret Navy Bomber.”

Some were declared war surplus, demilitarized, and converted into executive transports or cargo haulers.

A great many are still used as cargo ships today or as “flying campers” by their lucky owners.

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