The newest addition to the collection of the Military Aviation Museum is an SNB-1. At the end of November Chief Pilot Mike Spalding flew the aircraft from California all the way to Pungo, Virginia. The Navy version of an AT-11 Kansan, this sometimes overlooked warbird had an outsized impact on the war. The AT-11 was the standard bombardier trainer for the US Army Air Forces during World War II and was used to train around 90% of the more than 45,000 bombardiers trained during the war. An AT-11 pilot himself, John Hess was instrumental in helping the museum find a Kansan for the collection.
In wartime, the AT-11/SNB would typically have been equipped with 10x 100lb M38A2 practice bombs filled with sand. The Army Air Forces required a minimum accuracy of 22% hits for a trainee to pass the program. While the Norden Bombsight and Bombardier-controlled C-1 Autopilot were capable by the standards of the day, the pilots flying the aircraft were instructed to take evasive maneuvers for the 10 miles preceding their arrival over the training target. Using the same systems that were present in aircraft like the B-17 and B-24 made the AT-11 a very high-quality bombing run simulator.
The Military Aviation Museum has exciting plans for their SNB-1, and while the airplane has been officially welcomed to the collection, it will be receiving some much-needed TLC over the next few months. The airplane has spent some time outside in California, and although airworthy is not display-ready. The museum’s aircraft is BuNo 39926, and was accepted for US Navy service on March 27, 1943 with its first duty station being NAS Corpus Christi, Texas. As restoration continues on the aircraft we will certainly be sharing more information.
For more information about the Military Aviation Museum, visit www.militaryaviationmuseum.org.