The urgent need for a training aircraft for bomber crews in World War II was answered by several manufacturers but the standard trainer for bombardiers was the Beechcraft AT-11. Deliveries began in December 1941. By the end of the war, over 45,000 bombardiers, a full 90% had been trained in AT-11s.
The trainer was an adaptation of the Beechcraft Model 18. Changes included a, bomb bay. bomb racks and mounts for machine guns used in gunnery training. Most noticeable was a transparent nose, later versions often had a Norden bomb sight mounted within. The set up was meant to provide a realistic simulation of the bombardier station in a B-17 or B-24.
Some AT-11s were used for navigator training. A position for the navigator trainee was located in the rear of the fuselage on the right side. Close to 200 AT-11 had factory installed navigator stations and a field modification kit was also available.
Gunnery training was accomplished with a power turret located above and behind the cockpit and a tunnel gun that was in a flexible mount on the rear underside.
One interesting facet of bomber training in the AT-11 was that Women’s Army Service Pilots or WASPs often flew them as the various trainees worked on mastering bombing, gunnery, or navigation. In this way, WASP pilots fulfilled part of their mission of covering non combatant pilot assignments so more male pilots were free for combat.
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Activated 15 November 1942. Conducted bombardier training for USAAF Gulf Coast Training Center (later Central Flying Command). The first class of bombardiers graduated on 6 March. In the next three years an estimated 12,000 cadets passed through the Deming Qin school. The bombardier trainer used was the Beech AT-11 Kansan.
Assigned to Second Air Force 16th Bombardment Training Wing on 31 December 1944. Conducted B-29 Superfortress group bombardment training until the end of World War II, when the training program at Deming wound down and was inactivated 18 December 1945. Airfield was closed on 31 January 1946. Eventually discharged to the War Assets Administration (WAA) and sold.
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