Beechcraft P35 Bonanza
United States — Single-engine four/five-seat cabin monoplane


Archive Photos


1962 Beechcraft Bonanza Model P35 (N1797G, s/n D-6975) at the 2005 Camarillo Air Show, Camarillo, CA

Overview


The Beechcraft Bonanza is an American general aviation aircraft introduced in 1947 by The Beech Aircraft Corporation of Wichita, Kansas. As of 2009 it is still being produced in derivative form by Hawker Beechcraft, becoming the longest-running production airplane in history. More than 17,000 Bonanzas of all variants have been built.

Design and Development


At the end of World War II two all-metal aircraft emerged, the Model 35 Bonanza and the Cessna 195, that represented very different approaches to the premium-end of the postwar civil aviation market. With its high wing, seven-cylinder radial engine, fixed tailwheel undercarriage and roll-down side windows, the Cessna 195 was little more than a continuation of prewar technology; the 35 Bonanza, however, was more like the fighters developed during the war, featuring an easier-to-manage horizontally-opposed six cylinder engine, a rakishly streamlined shape, retractable nosewheel undercarriage (although the nosewheel initially was non-steerable, or castering) and low-wing configuration.

Designed by a team led by Ralph Harmon, the model 35 Bonanza was the first truly modern high-performance personal aircraft It was a very fast, low-wing monoplane at a time when most light aircraft were still made of wood and fabric. The Model 35 featured retractable landing gear and its signature V-tail (equipped with a combination elevator-rudder called a ruddervator), which made it both efficient and the most distinctive private aircraft in the sky. The prototype 35 Bonanza made its first flight on 22 December 1945, with the first production aircraft debuting as 1947 models. The first 30-40 Bonanzas produced had fabric-covered flaps and ailerons, after which those surfaces were covered with magnesium alloy sheet.

A series of fatal accidents caused many to suspect flaws in the V-tail structural design. A study by Beech concluded that the cause was primarily use of the Bonanza for long-distance travel in all types of weather, and that the inflight breakups were mainly the result of excursions into extreme turbulence (as might be found in thunderstorms), not any inherent flaw in the design. Other types, such as the Cessna 210, that were similarly employed did not have the same breakup rate as the Bonanza, and a more likely explanation was that the leading edges of the stabilizers were cantilevered too far ahead of the main spars. FAA issued two Airworthiness Directives covering the V-tail. The first (AD 2002-21-13) applied only to the earliest 35, A35, and B35 models built in 1947 to 1950, and mandated a detailed inspection and repair procedure. The second (AD 94-20-04 R2) required a one-time inspection of the empennage structure, reinforced the need for correct balancing of the control surfaces and tensioning of the cables, and included the installation of a cuff securing the leading edge of the stabilizers to the fuselage skins.

In 1982 the V-tail Bonanza was dropped from production, though more than 6,000 V-tail models are still flying today. In general aviation circles, the epithet "fork-tailed doctor killer" became a familiar denigration of the V-tail model. Many V-tailed Model 35 Bonanzas are still flying, and they command a premium price on the used aircraft market.

The conventional-tail Model 33 continued in production until 1995. Still built today is the Model 36 Bonanza, a longer-bodied, straight-tail variant of the original design, introduced in 1968.

All Bonanzas share an unusual feature: the yoke and rudder pedals are interconnected by a system of flexible bungees which assist in keeping the airplane in coordinated flight during turns. The bungee system allows the pilot to make coordinated turns using the yoke alone, or with minimal rudder input, during cruise flight. On takeoff increased right-rudder pressure is still required to overcome torque and P-factor. In the landing phase the bungee system must be over-ridden by the pilot when making crosswind landings and cross-controlled inputs are required to keep the nose of the airplane aligned with the runway centerline without drifting left or right. This feature started with the V-tail and persists on the current production model.

The twin-engine variant of the Bonanza is called the Baron, whereas the Twin Bonanza is a different design and not based on the original single-engine Bonanza fuselage.

QU-22 Pave Eagle


The QU-22 was a Beech 36/A36 Bonanza modified during the Vietnam War to be an electronic monitoring signal relay aircraft, developed under the project name "Pave Eagle" for the United States Air Force. A reduction geared Continental IO-520 engine was used to reduce its noise signature, much like the later Army-Lockheed YO-3A. These aircraft were intended to be used as unmanned drones to monitor sensors along the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Laos and report troop and supply movements. However when the project was put into operation in 1968, the drones were all flown by pilots of the 554th Reconnaissance Squadron.

Six YQU-22A prototypes (modifications of the Beech 33 Debonair) were combat-tested in 1968 and two lost during operations, with a civilian test pilot killed. 27 QU-22Bs were modified, 13 in 1969 and 14 in 1970, with 6 lost in combat. Two Air Force pilots were killed in action. All of the losses were due to engine failures or effects of turbulence.

Variants


Model 33 Debonair/Bonanza (BE33)

Model 35 Bonanza (BE35)

Model 36 Bonanza (BE36)

QU-22

Modifications

Unlicensed Version

Military Operators


Specifications (1953 Model D35)


General Characteristics

Performance

References


  1. Shupek, John. Photos via The Skytamer Archive, copyright © 2009 Skytamer Images. All Rights Reserved
  2. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Beechcraft Bonanza

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