The Beechcraft Model 50 Twin Bonanza was a small twin-engine aircraft designed by Beechcraft as an executive transport for the business market. It was developed to fill a gap in Beechcraft's product line between the single-engine Model 35 Bonanza and the larger Model 18. The Twin Bonanza is about 50% larger than the Bonanza, has more powerful engines, and is significantly heavier, while in its earliest form having only half the passenger capacity of the Model 18.
The single-engine Bonanza is one of history's most successful civil aircraft, in production since 1947. Like many light aircraft, a twin-engine derivative was developed in an effort to improve performance, but this was the Model 95 Travel Air (and later the Model 95-55 Baron, its descendant still in production in late 2007 as the Model G58). The Twin Bonanza is not a true twin-engined derivative of the Bonanza, however it superficially resembles the Travel Air (which was designed later).
The Twin Bonanza first flew on 15 November 1949 after a rapid development, only begun in April. The Model 50's type certificate was awarded in 1952, and production began the same year. The United States Army adopted the Twin Bonanza as the L-23 Seminole utility transport, making it the largest fixed-wing aircraft in the inventory at that time. During an initial demonstration flight for the Army, a Twin Bonanza crashed while trying to take off over a 50-foot (15 m) tree line while full of soldiers and sandbags. Everyone on board walked away from the crash. The Army was impressed with the structural strength of the Twin Bonanza, eventually purchasing 216 of the 994 examples produced. It was also the first twin-engine aircraft in its class to be offered to the business market, but the Korean War was raging in the early 1950s and the US Army took almost the entire production for 1952 and 1953.
The Beechcraft Model 65 Queen Air and Model 90 King Air are both direct descendents of the Model 50 Twin Bonanza. All three aircraft share the same basic wing design, as well as landing gear, flaps, instrument panels, fuel cells, and more. The Queen Air added a larger cabin to the design, while the later King Air added turbine power and pressurization. Twin Bonanza production ended in 1963 while the King Air was under development.
Twin Bonanza Association http://twinbonanza.com
Published - July 2009
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