Plane & Pilot
Saturday, January 1, 2005

The Ultimate V-Tail

This Bonanza has the most famous silhouette in the sky

Despite these niggles, the V-tail Bonanza has inspired as much or more allegiance than virtually any other design, and the basic airplane has served as the foundation for an entire family of Beech airplanes that have spanned nearly six decades. The model 33 was a 35 with a conventional tail, and the 36 was a stretched 33 fitted with six seats, club seating and a double cargo door. Beech developed and flew an unusual over and under twin-engine version of the Bonanza, the model 40, powered by a pair of 180-hp Franklins and driving a single prop, but the FAA's certification requirement for a firewall between the engines doomed the project.

An Oklahoma oil executive tried to market a V-tailed twin as an aftermarket mod, the Super V, but that airplane fell on its sword, as Beech was already selling the model 95 Travel Air with a pair of 180-hp Lycomings and a conventional tail. The 55 and 58 Barons were successful designs,utilizing the straight-tail Bonanza fuselage and engines rated from 260 to 325 hp. The ultimate production Bonanza upgrade was the 58P Baron, a fast, pressurized twin capable of cruising in the flight levels at 230 knots. (There was even a turboprop Bonanza, the Lightning, that never made it into production.)

By the standards of the late 1940s, the basic airplane was a major accomplishment. Even today, in an age of faster, more comfortable composite designs, Beechcraft Bonanzas stand out from the crowd. Whether you're considering a restored, original 1947 "straight" 35 or the final 1982 V35B, Bonanzas are consistently among the most in-demand airplanes in the sky.

They're also among the most modified. Steve Oxman of Riva, Md., owns a 1959 K35 model, although he has made so many mods to it, you might mistake it for a later vintage V35B.

"I bought the airplane in 1996 with a run-out, 250-hp, Continental IO-470, so I knew I'd need to replace it fairly soon," comments Oxman. "But when the time came, I elected to step up to the 285-hp IO-520-DA."

In the intervening years, he has added the long, third side window, tip tanks, speed brakes, a one-piece windshield, a modified panel and every piece of avionics imaginable, including a Sandel EHSI, a Garmin 430, an angle-of-attack indicator, an STEC 60-2 autopilot and an amazing ally in higher density traffic areas, the Ryan TCAD.

The truth be told, the Ryan 9900B TCAD is just as happy anywhere it goes because it's always listening for nearby transponder replies and uses that information to display traffic. An aural "Traffic!" warning alerts pilots to aircraft on a collision course. The 9900B is upgradeable to the full Ryan TCAD, the 9900BX, for pilots who need or want more information.

Labels: Piston Singles


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