Boeing-Stearman BT-17

The Boeing XBT-17 was a design for a training aircraft that used as little aluminium as possible. Early in the massive expansion of military production in the United States there was a shortage of aluminium, and a number of aircraft were designed around other materials.

The XBT-17 was designed by the Stearman division of Boeing at Wichita (producers of the Model 75 Kaydet primary trainer). It was a low wing monoplane with the trainer and pupil in a tandem canopy covered by a glasshouse canopy. The only aluminium structure was the semi-monocoque rear fuselage. The forward fuselage used a steel tube framework, the wings and tail had a wooden framework with a plywood skin.

The aircraft was designed to use two different engines. When given a 225hp Lycoming engine it was a primary trainer, the X-90. When it had a 400hp Pratt & Whitney R-985 engine it was a basic trainer (the X-91).

The US Army purchased the X-91 prototype and in January 1942 designated it as the XBT-17. During 1942 the supply of aluminium improved, the need for the XBT-17 faded and it wasn't ordered into production. Boeing's Wichita division also produced the XAT-15 Crewmaker advanced trainer for the same reasons. This design was ordered into production, but was then cancelled in favour of the Fairchild AT-21. 

With Pratt & Whitney Engine
Engine: Pratt & Whitney R-985-AN-1
Power: 450hp
Crew: 2
Span: 35ft 9in
Length: 27ft 9in
Empty Weight: 3,080lb
Gross Weight: 4,150lb
Maximum Speed: 190mph
Cruising Speed: 160mph
Ceiling: 20,000ft

With Lycoming Engine
Engine: Lycoming R-680-B4D
Power: 225hp
Crew: 2
Span: 35ft 9in
Length: 28ft 6.5in
Empty Weight: 2,101lb
Gross Weight: 2,810lb
Maximum Speed: 140mph
Cruising Speed: 115mph
Climb rate: 800ft/ min
Ceiling: 15,000ft

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (11 September 2014), Boeing-Stearman BT-17 , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_boeing_stearman_BT-17.html

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