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Robert Royes
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Qu-22B Pave Eagle II, Minicraft 1/48 Beechcraft Bonanza /scratch.

February 23, 2020 · in Aviation · · 8 · 3.4K

The QU-22 was another civilian craft adapted by the military. Based on the Bonanza of which 27 being modified. It seemed that if it had wings they'd find a mission for it. Flown by 553/554 Recon. Wing Det. 1,Based at Nakhon RTAB in Thailand. In operation between 1970 and 1972, Designed to fly unmanned, to pick up movement signals along the Ho Chi Min trail, but due to equipment unreliability they usually were flown with a pilot. Because of a number of losses caused by mechanical malfunctions[none were ever lost to enemy action] the program was cancelled. My interest in the aircraft goes back to my senior year at Aviation High School in NYC. The USAF apparently donated three of them to our school to misuse and abuse learning aircraft mechanics. All the electronic equipment was of course gone but I due remember an explosive bolt warning placard affixed inside it.

The kit is a Beechcraft Bonanza , Modified with extended wing tip tanks, a hump on the engine cowl[it housed an extra generator for the added electric equipment]. Eliminated the aft windows and not that you can see, scribed rear access doors on the right fuselage side. There's not a lot of info on this bird so I've improvised a bit. Apparently Minicraft Issued for a short time a kit of a YQU-22A a predecessor to the QU-22B. I've seen it listed on Scalemates but nowhere else. The later photos are of one at the USAF museum, another from my high school, and the mystery Minicraft kit.

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8 responses

  1. Interesting subject, Robert. This is one I’ve never heard of. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Good choice of subject here! - Isn't the fairing due to the engine being geraed to lower the noise from the propeller? That might explain the mechanical malfunctions you mention.

  3. When I was going through USAF pilot training in 1971, a QU-22B assignment following graduation was the only thing more feared than a B-52 or KC-135 slot. The thought of flying around alone in a modified general aviation airplane at night over the Ho Chi Mihn Trail in Laos would scare anyone. Add to that the fact that if the cockpit door opened inadvertanly in flight (like they did at times), you had a very short amount of time to jump out before the demolition charges, designed to destroy the sensitive electronics surveillance gear, exploded...and did I say that you would be jumping out in the middle of the night over the Ho Chi Mihn Trail in Laos? I'm Glad I got an F-111A assignment...

    • I was assigned the QU-22B right out of pilot training (I had hoped to get a FAC slot). I flew 100+ missions in the little plane and it was quite an adventure. I was in the Air Force for 5+ years and the year at NKP was the best. Recently hosted a couple of my buddies from the 554th Recon Sq. and had a super time.

  4. Interesting build! Looks great.

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