1955 C-45H s/n AF-276 Static Display
The C-45 was the WW II version of the popular Beechcraft Model 18 commercial light transport. Beech built a total of 4,526 of these aircraft for the Army Air Forces between 1939 and 1945 in four versions, the AT-7 Navigator navigation trainer, the AT-11 Kansan bombing-gunnery trainer, the C-45 Expeditor utility transport and the F-2 for aerial photography and mapping. During the early 1950’s, Beech completely rebuilt 900 C-45’s for the Air Force. They received new serial numbers and were designated C-45 Gs and C-45Hs, remaining in service until 1963 for administrative and light cargo duties.
The aircraft on display is one of 432 rebuilt as C-45Hs. N87689 and N87692 had been based at the Benjamin O. Davis Aviation High School at Burke Lakefront Airport, Cleveland, Ohio, since 1980. Formerly owned by the Navy and later used by the U. S. Department of Agriculture, the airplanes were deactivated and donated to the school for its aircraft/engine mechanics’ training. When the school was closed in the late 1980’s, the Beeches sat idle.
Chuck Reed, a private pilot and owner of an aviation museum, purchased the two C-45s and brought them to his Pheasant Run Airport in Madison, Ohio. Chuck’s dream of a completed C-45 at Pheasant Run proved to be unrealistic and upon his death in 2008, his wife and friends began looking for a new home for the Beeches. They were acquired by the Grimes Flying Lab Foundation which operates N8640E, a beautifully restored C-45H known as the Grimes Flying Lab, (also based at the Urbana Grimes Airport).
Having fulfilled it parts support purpose, N87689, a 1955 C-45H, s/n AF-276 was donated to the Champaign Aviation Museum where it was painted in Air Force livery and placed on external display in front of the museum.