One of the best-know American biplanes and presently the most numerous, the Stearman "Kaydet" has had three separate careers and the end is not yet in sight.
The name "Kaydet" was bestowed in 1941 when the government was promoting the use of popular names instead of the actual type numbers for public reference to military aircraft. Designed by Harold Zipp and Jack Clark, the "Kaydet" prototype Model 70 appeared in 1933. The Model 70 featured an airframe stressed to much higher load factors than it was ever expected to encounter.
The original US Army "Kaydet" was the PT-13 with the 220 Lycoming R-680 engine. In 1940 to avoid a shortage of Lycomings, the Army specified an alternate engine, the 220 Continental R-670. This resulted in a change of airplane designation to PT-17. Other Army "Kaydets" using the 225hp Jacobs R-755 engine were designated PT-18.
When the Navy ordered duplicates of the PT-13, they were designated N2S-2 and N2S-5 in their system. The Navy equivalent of the PT-17 became N2S-1, N2S-3 and N2S-4. The only complete standardization of an Army and Navy production design during WWII was achieved with the Boeing Stearman E-75, which served the Army as the PT-13D and the Navy as the N2S-5.
The last Kaydet delivered was an E-75, a special PT-13D fitted at Army request with electrical system, radio, and additional instrumentation. The c/n was 755963, Army serial number 42-17794. Following a special factory rollout ceremony in February, 1945, 42-17794 was used by Headquarters personnel of the Army's Midwest Procurement District which was in Wichita.
After the war, when it became desirable to have a Kaydet at the Stearman plant for company use, a special effort was made to obtain this particular Kaydet rather than buy one on the surplus market. With civil registration number N41766 issued to Boeing June, 1946 and carrying lettering that proclaimed it to be the 10,346th Kaydet, the last of the many, it was used at Wichita for utility and publicity purposes for 13 years before it was donated to the US Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio. To cap his long association with Stearman biplanes, J.E. Schaefer rode from Wichita to Dayton on the last company-conducted biplane flight to make the presentation. The museum accepted the plane on September 28, 1958 and it is now on permanent display in prewar trainer colors.
The "Kaydet's" second career began right after the war when thousands were sold on the surplus market. The majority of the "Kaydets" on the civil register in 1948 were the backbone of the agricultural fleet. Most of these dusters and seeders were refitted with the 450 hp Pratt & Whitney R-985 engine. A handful of "Kaydets" found a career as airshow performers.
In the 1950's a new hobby emerged - antique airplanes and the "Kaydet" found it's third career. Old airplanes suddenly had status. Many of the restored "Kaydets" sport a variety of individualistic color schemes and many owners seek to recapture even more of the spirit of a bygone era by painting their birds in the colorful US Army or Navy markings of the 1936-1942 period.
"Kaydets" will be seen in numbers in skies for a long time to come - fitting tribute to the company that produced a truly great and historic airplane.
|The Kaydet Cockpit,
Pilot's Handbook for Army Model PT-13D and Navy Model
August 1, 1945
|Front Cockpit - Side View
|Rear Cockpit - Side View
|Manufacturer's and military designations for the Model 75 Stearman|
|Model||Army Model||Navy Model||Powerplant|
|A75||PT-13A, B, C||None||R-680-7|
|Military Markings||Kaydet Military Images|
|Stearman Model 70 Prototype||Stearman
With 450hp Pratt & Whitney Engine
|All of the information on this page and some of the photos were taken from Stearman Guidebook by Mitch Mayborn and Peter M. Bowers- Flying Enterprise Publications, 3164 Whitehall, Dallas, Texas 75229|