Ordered by the Navy in 1940 for use as an aerial photography platform, the Beech 18 eventually served in a variety of other roles, from administrative and logistic support to training. In the latter capacity, the versatile aircraft carried everything from cameras to sophisticated radar and jamming equipment in training aerial photographers and Naval Flight Officers. Many a Naval Aviator not assigned to an operational squadron relied on the "Bugsmasher," as it was affectionately called, to maintain flying proficiency.
With a service life that spanned multiple years, the aircraft was known by a variety of designations and nicknames, including Navigator, Expeditor, and Kansan. In 1962, with the decision to standardize all military aircraft designations, all SNB/JRB aircraft were redesignated C-45s.
Accepted by the Navy on 20 February 1942 as a JRB-2 Expeditor, the Museum's aircraft (BuNo 09771) initially served as a utility plane with Marine Corps units at Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Quantico, Virginia, and Naval Air Station (NAS) San Diego, California, including Marine Aircraft Groups (MAG) 15 and 35. Following World War II it flew at NAS Corpus Christi, Texas, NAS Alameda, California, and NAS Anacostia, D.C., before placement in storage in 1948. Entering active service again at MCAS Cherry Point, North Carolina, in 1950, the aircraft underwent conversion to the SNB-5P Navigator configuration and subsequently served at NAS Willow Grove, Pennsylvania, NAS Glenview, Illinois, NAS Pensacola, Florida, and NAS Atlanta, Georgia. It was redesignated an RC-45J in 1962. The Museum obtained it in 1972 from the Naval Air Technical Training Unit at NAS Pensacola, Florida.
||Beech Aircraft Company
||Two pilots and up to five passengers or students
||Two 450 horsepower Pratt & Whitney R-985-AN-3 engines
Length: 34 ft., 3 in.
Height: 9 ft., 4 in.
Wingspan: 47 ft., 8 in.
Empty: 6,203 lb.
Gross: 8,000 lb.
Max Speed: 209 mph at sea level
Ceiling: 21,500 ft.
Range: 780 miles