Any T34 Drivers out there

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timshatz

Chief Master Sergeant
3,912
23
Mar 29, 2006
Phila, Pa
Guys,

Going to get back into flying but am not sure which aircraft I want to get. Was kicking around getting a Beech T-34 Mentor but know next to nothing about it. I have heard it is a very easy flyer. Also heard it has a zillion ADs on it. Have owned an AA5B and a Yak 52 before so have some ownership experience.

Anybody out there have experience flying a T34? How about the Maintainence on one (talking the piston jobby, not the turbine). Any ideas on the ADs? What does it burn an hour and what is the real cruise?

I guess mostly, I'm just looking for anybody's experience with them.

Not sure this is going to be the bird (Arrow Turbo looks good and might do the job too) but I'm in the info gathering stage so all the info I can get, the better.
 
I've got about 30 hours in T-34As and Bs - sweet flying aircraft. Most of the T-34 fleet was grounded because of a wing spar AD - to me this was only relevant if your doing wild aerobatics in the thing. Several guys pulled the wings off putting 6gs on them. If I remember fuel burn on the O-470 was about 10 - 12 GPH. Maintenance was pretty straight up and if you got one that didn't have a lot of acro time on it you probably would have less airframe problems to worry about. It flies like a straight tail Bonanza except you're sitting in tandem.

Hope this helps, make sure the spar AD has been complied with...
 
I've got about 30 hours in T-34As and Bs - sweet flying aircraft. Most of the T-34 fleet was grounded because of a wing spar AD - to me this was only relevant if your doing wild aerobatics in the thing. Several guys pulled the wings off putting 6gs on them. If I remember fuel burn on the O-470 was about 10 - 12 GPH. Maintenance was pretty straight up and if you got one that didn't have a lot of acro time on it you probably would have less airframe problems to worry about. It flies like a straight tail Bonanza except you're sitting in tandem.

Hope this helps, make sure the spar AD has been complied with...

Thanks for the info Flyboy, I appreciate it. I have heard that the O-470 was a low powered engine for the configuration of that bird and they should be upgraded to a 285/300hp if you want the climb rate to keep up past 6-8K. Did you find the 470 run out of punch around there? Heard also that the takeoff could be a bit on the long side. Any idea on the cruise?

How about the Arrow Turbo, any time in that? Or the regular Arrow for that matter.
 
Thanks for the info Flyboy, I appreciate it. I have heard that the O-470 was a low powered engine for the configuration of that bird and they should be upgraded to a 285/300hp if you want the climb rate to keep up past 6-8K. Did you find the 470 run out of punch around there? Heard also that the takeoff could be a bit on the long side. Any idea on the cruise?

How about the Arrow Turbo, any time in that? Or the regular Arrow for that matter.

The T-34s with the stock engine are a bit anemic - I had a T-34C pull up along side me and leave me in the dust. A 300 hp T-34 would move at a good clip especially if you want to fling it around. The one I flew cruised at about 125 -130 kts indicated - VA was 110, VNE was 219 knots (I just found my old T-34 checklist). I found the take off about what you expect in an older Bonanza.

I've flown Turbo Arrows - great airplane and easy to fly especially if you flown any other low wing Piper. The turbo system could be a little problematic if you don't keep the maintenance up. Also the MLG scissor links elongate if you land crabbed. Aside from that it's a good little airplane.
 
The turbo system could be a little problematic if you don't keep the maintenance up. Also the MLG scissor links elongate if you land crabbed.

Flyboy,

Thanks again for you input. Appreciate it. Couple of questions.

What's the maintenance like on a turbo vs a regularly aspirated engine? I know the oil gets changed more often the TBO is about 600 hrs shorter. Is there anything else? Also, the turbo has a cruise of about 30mph higher than the regularly aspirated engine. Is that because of the turbo producing better power at altitude or is there another reason? And the MLG scissor links, what are they? Not familiar with them.

Probably going with the Arrow just for simplicity's sake. More to do, bang for the buck, all that. Thing about it is after coming out of Yak, I don't want to get a bird that I spend all my time just punching holes in the sky (which is what a lot of flying is but nobody tells you until you get up there, on your own, with a 500 mile flight ahead of you).
 
Flyboy,

Thanks again for you input. Appreciate it. Couple of questions.

What's the maintenance like on a turbo vs a regularly aspirated engine? I know the oil gets changed more often the TBO is about 600 hrs shorter. Is there anything else? Also, the turbo has a cruise of about 30mph higher than the regularly aspirated engine. Is that because of the turbo producing better power at altitude or is there another reason? And the MLG scissor links, what are they? Not familiar with them.
On any GA aircraft with a turbo, there is a tendency to overboost the engine, especially on takeoff, that's why you find them getting them overhauled earlier. Air leaks in the ducting and around the turbo unit is the most common cause of problems. Turbo Arrows do produce more power at altitude that's why they're faster than normal Arrows. Below is a photo of the scissor link on the MLG. Also watch for fuel leaks, this picture looks like this bird had one.


Probably going with the Arrow just for simplicity's sake. More to do, bang for the buck, all that. Thing about it is after coming out of Yak, I don't want to get a bird that I spend all my time just punching holes in the sky (which is what a lot of flying is but nobody tells you until you get up there, on your own, with a 500 mile flight ahead of you).
I think you're smart in going with the Arrow. A T-34 could be troublesome, especially after the wing spar fiasco. Also keep in mind that depending in what part of the country you're in you're a target for a ramp check. The FAA loves to ramp T-34s becuase of the ADs.

A Turbo Arrow would be a great p[lane for cross country flight especially if you get one with a good IFR package. Personally I love flying instruments and although i have no IFR time in an Arrow, I think it would be a great IFR aircraft. Although there may be concerns about the turbo, i think over all the Arrow will be a lot more reliable than the T-34.
 

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Thanks Flyboy, appreciate the input. It will be helpful. Good point about the Ramp Checks. Forgot about them. Used to get them in the Yak and, luckily, I was never around. Found out after the fact.

Am off for my BFR this weekend. Will probably fly everything they've got over there before making my decision. Am a fan of low wings (not as hairy in a crosswind) vs high wings but, then again, I've got no time in anything larger than a 152. There's a couple of rental 172s out at the field and I might take them out a bit but just to confirm what I already think. Low wing is better, IMHO.
 
I know it's cheaper to go in a 152, but try to stay in a 172 - if flies like a real plane.

Low wing/ high wing, all the same to me - I do like Warriors, my favorite low wing is a Dakota.

Glad I could help, good luck on your flight review!
 
Thanks guys. Got my nose in Kershner's Student Pilot manual trying to remember all the SOB about VORs. Been wrapped into GPS to long I no longer get into it. Been at least a decade since I did any VOR hopping to my destination.
 
I don't let my students use GPS. I have a handheld that i use for my reference, I don't let the student see it...


Just as well, pretty smart actually. Batteries run out, the thing gets dropped, a million mishaps can happen. Better to look at a map and get a line on things. Even though I use the GPS all the time, I still do it by map before and during. Want to see exactly what is going on. Fly out East and there is always some restricted airspace or military reservation you can get too close to. Camp David is less than 50 miles away and they are VERY touchy about some joker wandering around. As my instructor told me, "You can probably fly through once and nothing will happen but turn around to fly back and your asking for a Stinger or Sidewinder".

Avoid it like the plague.
 
Tim,
I have 100 hours in a T-34C. Sorry I missed this thread earlier, and it's been a while since. Any questions that you may have, I'd be happy to answer.

T-34C is a very nice aircraft. 550 shp at full torque w/ max prop rpm. Handles very nicely, and performs aerobatics nicely.
 
I own a 1954 T-34A and wanted to clear up some of the questions regarding owning/operating one.

1. Engine - Almost all civilian T-34's are now converted to the "big" engines of IO-520 (285 hp) or IO-550 (300 hp). This will give you climbs of about 1500 fpm up to 10,000' and a 165 KTAS cruise on 15 gph. You can go LOP and get 12.5 gph and 155 KTAS.

2. Crashes - The wing AD's were due solely to the loss of 3 aircraft, all of which were involved in commercial "Air Combat" activity. There has never been a structural failure of a civilian T-34 NOT involved in dogfighting, including Julie Clark who has literally thousands of hours on her T-34 performing airshows. There is some evidence to indicate all of the accident aircraft were over-g'd (beyond 6 g's) and if memory serves all had several THOUSAND hours of dogfighting. This is of course in addition to the thousand's of hours already on the airframes. To put this into perspective F-16's and F-15's are "thrown away" after 8,000 hrs of high g flying. Some of the accident aircraft
Sky Warriors Crash, April 19, 1999
Texas Air Aces First Crash, November 19, 2003
Texas Air Aces Second Crash, December, 7, 2004

3. Wing AD - There are now 3 fixes for the wings. Each crash resulted in a fleet AD so basically 3 "stages" to the now current permanent fix. To return the aircraft to the full envelope of airspeed g you can have the "Parks Spar H Beam", "T-34 corporation doubler, ALEC, and WS66 doubler", "Baron or "Common" Spar, ALEC, WS66 doubler", or the least popular "Saunders Strap". I have the Parks Spar H Beam.

4. Operating Cost - Annual is about $1,500 per year. Wing AD's have 3,000 hr inspection requirements so not a real issue. Not many other recurring AD inspections other than lube uplock rollers (100 hrs) and inspect magnesium elevator attach points for cracks (100 hrs). Both require less than an 1 hr of labor together. Fuel is 12.5 - 15 gph for 155 - 165 KTAS. It is by far the most economical warbird to operate that has retractable gear and is comparable to the cost to operate a V-35, F-33 Bonanza.

5. Operating Experience - It flied just like it should. I change my oil every 35 hrs, put fuel in and go. It has ample luggage, comfortable cockpits, good speed, good control harmony/feel, great formation aircraft, adequate aerobatics, and is a stable IFR platform. Great visibility from bubble canopies and a great organization and support network in the T-34 Association (Welcome To T-34 Association). It is the best all around aircraft I have ever found in more than 20 years of looking if you do not require more than 2 seats.

6. Ramp checks - I have never had one and all of the wing AD's are "internal" fixes that can't be seen on a ramp check. I do however get lots of visitors who love the aircraft and even some from guys and gals who used to fly them in the military! If you fly your aircraft in airshows then yes, expect a ramp check.

7. Runway requirements - 1,500' of runway is sufficient for most operations and it has great T/O Ldg performance. Will vary based on density altitude of course but it is not a real concern.

I provide dual instruction in mine if someone out there is looking to "test drive" one before they buy (Fast Aircraft :: Home).

Sorry I did not see this thread sooner!
 
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T34 Drivers... I was thinking of tanks drivers when I saw this, oh well, the T34 is nicer to look at.
Is there any news back from Fast Aircraft - seems the pic scarred him off.
Might there be any old pics of your kites that could be viewed here?
 
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I thought I recognized that website. Welcome aboard, Todd. I was going to recommend the T-34 Assocation while reading through this thread (then realizing it was a bit dated, but good to see it revived). I have about 125 hours of GIB time in the T-34 (photographer/ballast) and while I don't normally fly the airplane, I find it a fun airplane this flies great. I have been in formations for 2 to 10 airplanes and with the mix of engines, it wasn't an issue for formations as long as everyone knows what the other aircraft have in them. The wing spar AD issues really put a damper on a lot of T-34 operations. Now that it is behind most of the aircraft, they appear to be making a bit of a comeback. If you want to fly formation in a warbird and have a heck of a lot of fun, the T-34 is a great choice for an economical warbird.
 
Sorry. I do not check into this forum often.

Yes that is my aircraft! That was just prior to my purchasing it (June of 2009). It now looks slightly different as it has tip tanks and a full EFIS cockpit.
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