Boeing / Stearman
(Variants/Other Names: Model 75; NS-1; N2S;
PT-13; PT-18; PT-27)
Wally Falardeau tucks
his Boeing PT-17 Stearman in close to the camera over northern Illinois
on a cloudy summer day in July 2005.
Photo by Buck Wyndham.
History: Even though the US Army Air Corps needed a
new biplane trainer in the mid-1930s, it moved slowly to acquire one because of the
service-wide lack of funding for new airplane purchases. In 1936, following the
Navys lead the previous year, the Army tentatively bought 26 airframes from Boeing
(the Model 75), which the Army named the PT-13. With war on the horizon, this trickle of
acquisition soon turned into a torrent; 3519 were delivered in 1940 alone.
Built as a private venture by the Stearman Aircraft
Company of Wichita (bought by Boeing in 1934), this two-seat biplane was of mixed
construction. The wings were of wood with fabric covering while the fuselage had a tough,
welded steel framework, also fabric covered. Either a Lycoming R-680 (PT-13) or
Continental R-670 (PT-17) engine powered most models, at a top speed of 124 mph with a
505-mile range. An engine shortage in 1940-41 led to the installation of 225-hp Jacobs
R-755 engines on some 150 airframes, and the new designation PT-18.
The US Navy's early aircraft, designated NS-1, eventually evolved
into the N2S series, and the Royal Canadian Air Force called their Lend-Lease aircraft
PT-27s. (The Canadians were also responsible for the moniker "Kaydet," a name
eventually adopted by air forces around the globe).
The plane was easy to fly, and relatively forgiving
of new pilots. It gained a reputation as a rugged airplane and a good teacher. Officially
named the Boeing Model 75, the plane was (and still is) persistently known as the
"Stearman" by many who flew them. It was called the "PT" by the Army,
"N2S" by the Navy and "Kaydet" by Canadian forces. By whatever name,
more than 10,000 were built by the end of 1945 and at least 1,000 are still flying today
Nicknames: Yellow Peril. (Some Stearman owners claim this name resulted
specifically from the Stearman's allegedly challenging ground-handling characteristics,
but most WWII veterans contend that the nickname was more of a generic reference to the
dangerous nature of primary flight training, an endeavor in which the Stearman obviously
played a major role. Other aircraft such as the N3N also carried the
Yellow Peril nickname.)
Engine: One 220-horsepower
Continental R-670-5 piston radial engine (PT-17)
Weight: Empty 1,936 lbs., Max Takeoff
Wing Span: 32ft. 2in.
Length: 24ft. 3in.
Height: 9ft. 2in.
Maximum Speed: 124 mph
Ceiling: 11,200 ft.
Range: 505 miles
Number Built: 10,000+
Number Still Airworthy: 1000+
Stearman Pilot Report by Budd Davisson ]
Aviation -- Stearman restorations and maintenance in Austria.
Resources -- A website full of information about the 450-hp version of
Air Repair, Inc.,
Cleveland, Mississippi, USA -- Stearman and engine parts and restorations.
The Airshow -- Lots of interesting
Big Sky Stearman -- Wood wing kits for
Stearmans, and other services.
Biplane Expo, Bartlesville, Oklahoma, USA
-- Overhaul shop for Stearman instruments.
Biplane Association, Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA
Stearman Fly-In, Galesburg, Illinois, USA
International Biplane Fly-In, Spokane, Washington, USA
Services: Redline Brake Info
Stearman Flight --
Formation flight training organization for Stearmans.
Association (SRA) -- The premiere organization for Stearman restorers, owners and
-- Blueprints, and technical information for "Stearman people."
World Flight -- Robert Ragozzino's around
the-world Stearman flight in 2000.
Company, Inc. (Europe) -- Stearman repair and restoration. Also has
rejuvenated Stearmans for sale.
Stearman: A Pictorial History
By Jim Avis and Martin Bowman
Hardcover, 152 pages
Published August 1997 by Motorbooks/Airlife Publ.
Anyone with just the slightest interest in airplanes
will surely get a kick out of this fine book! Its 150 pages are lavishly illustrated with
color and black-and-white photographs from the late 1920s up to 1996. The history and uses
of the legendary Stearman biplanes are covered in full in chapters on development,
military trainer use, crop dusting use, aircraft restoration, and aerobatics use. Most of
the text is in the form of extensive captions for each photograph. Many of the full color
photos of restored aircraft are quite stunning. [From a reader review.]
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2008 The Doublestar Group, unless otherwise noted.
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