Beech Model 55 / 56 / 58 Baron
|TOURER||Virtual Aircraft Museum / USA / Beech|
The 'leap-year' Beech Model 95-55 Baron, first flown on 29 February 1960, was developed from the earlier Modet 95 Travel Air. It differed primarily in having more powerful engines, but also in design refinements that included swept vertical tail surfaces, and improved all-weather capability. Deliveries began in November 1960, and ready acceptance of this new twin-engined four/five-seat aircraft resulted in further improvement and development of the type. The Model B55, introduced in 1963, had four-seat and optional five/six-seat accommodation, and in 1965 an additional Model C55 was made available with more powerful 213kW Continental IO-520-C engines. The Model C55 incorporated a number of other improvements, including increased tailplane span and an extended nose baggage compartment, and was developed later as a separate Baron model distinct from the B55.
A few months before the introduction of the C55, the US Army announced that the Model 95-B55 had been chosen for military service as an instrument trainer, which was ordered in an initial quantity of 55 under the designation T-42A Cochise. Ten more were procured for US Army service plus, in 1971, five for delivery to the Turkish army under the Military Assistance Program. By 1984, production of civil and military 95-B55 Barons was in excess of 2,400 and 1,201 examples of the Model E55 (formerly C/D55) had been delivered when production ended.
In September 1967 deliveries began of a new Model 56TC Baron. This introduced turbocharged power, in the form of two 283kW Avco Lycoming TIO-541-E1B4W engines, providing much improved performance. Air-conditioning was available as an option, Beech claiming this to be the first time that such a system had been offered on a lightweight twin. However, the higher cost of this version of the Baron attracted only 93 sales, and production ended in December 1971.
Before that date the range was extended when, in late 1969, Beech introduced the larger Model 58 Baron. First flown in June of that year, it had the fuselage lengthened by 0.25m to provide a more spacious cabin, and related to this was an extension of the wheelbase. Double doors on the starboard side of the fuselage gave easy access to baggage/cargo space behind the rear seats, and powerplant consisted of two engines as installed in the Model E55. Ready acceptance of this improved Baron, with delivery figures that have averaged about two per week for more than 12 years, resulted in the introduction of a pressurised Model 58P, with first deliveries in late 1975. It was something of a composite airframe, combining Model 95-B55 wings. Model 58 tail unit, a strengthened Model 58 fuselage to cater for pressurisation, and main landing gear units as developed for the Model 60 Duke. Power was provided by two Continental turbo-charged engines, currently TSIO-520-WB units with propeller synchrophasers as standard. The most recent addition to the range came with initial deliveries in June 1976 of the Model 58TC which, apart from being unpressurised, is generally similar to its immediate predecessor, and retains its turbo-charged powerplant.
The Baron has proved to be a popular twin, and by January 1989 2,182 Model 58s had been delivered. In addition to these Beech production Barons, at least two turboprop conversions have been developed by other constructors. These include the SFERMA Marquis, produced in small numbers in France, and combining Beech-built Baron airframes with 328kW Turbomeca Astazou engines; and the American Jet Industries Turbo Star Baron powered by two 298kW Allison 250-B17 turboprops.