Sheep in Wolf’s Clothing? Part 2

This Grumman TC-4A Academe started with the Gulfstream 1 civilian executive transport design. For military use, it is a trainer for the Grumman A-6 Intruder; a bomber nose was grafted onto the G-1 for training the bomber/navigator students.

Throughout aviation history, there are many examples of civilian aircraft being adapted for military use. On the other hand, there are many situations where a military aircraft design has seen civilian success too. Here are a number of airframes that have been used by military branches and civilian operators, many times performing the same duties and functions.

Especially during the early years of World War II, civilian designs and already-built aircraft were pressed into military service. As time went on, more specialized designs were produced for military use, due to performance needs (speed, range and ruggedness are just three reasons for specialization). This not-at-all definitive collection focuses on propeller-driven airframes, while last week’s edition focused on pure jet-powered aircraft.

The Cessna O-2 Skymaster was adopted from the Cessna 336/337 Skymaster airframe.
Designed by North American Aviation, with a wing design containing P-51 Mustang heritage, the later Ryan L-17 Navion was a four-place light utility aircraft that found favor in the civilian market too.
The CT-142A navigation trainer of the Royal Canadian Air Force is a modified Dash-8 passenger propliner. The large nose houses a mapping radar.
Lockheed’s PV-1 and PV-2 Harpoon were descendants of the civilian L-18 Lodestar airliner. Army/Navy/Marines UC-60/R5O transports were too.
Beech C-45 transports and trainers were known as the Beech 18 in civilian operations.
The Famous Douglas C-47/C-53 transport was based upon the Douglas DST/DC-3 airliner.
The Lockheed P-3 Orion is based upon the L-188 Electra turbprop airliner.
The Antonov AN-26 is based upon the AN-24, a civilian airliner as well as a military transport.
Britten-Norman BN-2 trainer/liaison and patrol aircraft is a military versions of the widely used Islander utility aircraft in civilian hands.
The Beech C-12 is used for staff transport, as a trainer, and can be employed as a elint/radio relay aircraft in the military. It is one of the first civilian high speed turboprop transports as the Super Kingair 200 as well.
The Beech C-12J is a transport version of the Beech 1900 airliner.
The Fokker 27 found itself performing transport and maritime patrol duties in the military, and this Dutch design also favor worldwide as a passenger airliner too. This U.S. Army C-31A was one f to that carried the Army’s Golden Knights parachute team aloft.
The Cessna C-172 Skyhawk is used by the U.S. military as the T-41 trainer.
The Cessna 182 Skylane is a common Civil Air Patrol aircraft as well. The CAP is a U.S. Air Force Auxiliary unit.
The DeHavilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter is known as the CC-138 in Canadian military usage, where it is used for search and rescue duties.
The Dehavilland Canada Dash 8 is used for staff transport in Canadian military service too.
This Cessna-Reims C-406 is a French-built version of an American Cessna 404 with turboprop engines.
The Embraer EMB-121 Xingu is a light civilian transport which is used by the French Navy for training and transport duties.
The Fokker 50 is an upgraded FK-27 Friendship that is used as a transport and maritime patrol aircraft; the Fokker 50 is also a passenger airliner in civil use.
The Howard DGA-15 was a fast piston transport built just before World War II, the Navy used their GH-3 version as an air ambulance.
The Jetstream T.1 is a military multi-engined trainer, in civilian use, it was the original Handley-Page HP-137 Jetstream airliner.
After the successful L-410, the Let L-610 didn’t garner many, if any civilian orders. The few built became military staff transports.
In civilian terms, this is a DHC-2 Beaver… in U.S. military use, it was the L-20A or later, the U-6A.
The Nord 262 is a French transport designed for the French military, it was successful as a turboprop airliner in the U.S. as the Nord 262, and modified as the Mohawk 298 wit U.S.-built engines too.
The U-1B Otter was purchased by the U.S. Army as a rugged transport and light cargo carrier, the DHC-3 civilian version is still is at home in Alaska and Canadian bush country, where it began its career.
The Swiss Pilatus PC-6 is a light transport that has found favor for its STOL capabilities in military use. It is used as a parachute mount in civilian use, as well as a transport in mountainous terrain.
The Saab 340 airliner has been modified as an airborne warning and control aircraft by Sweden… and purchased buy a few other countries.
Lockheed’s C-69 Constellation was originally an airliner design converted into transports for the military during World War II. Later military models were known as the C-121, civilian L-1049 and L-1649 passenger airliners came after the war too.
The Swearingen or Fairchild Merlin IV/Metroliner small airliners are utilized as the RC-26 elint and small personnel transport, mainly by the U.S. Air National Guard.
This Belgian Air Force Merlin transport is a version of the SA-226T Merlin III in civilian hands.
The Shorts C-23 Sherpa is a modification to the Shorts 3-30 airliner. Some larger Shorts 360 airliners were later modified into military transports with different tail structures and a loading ramp added.
This Stinson 10 -a civilian light plane before World War II, was utilized as an anti-submarine patroller during the early years of the war by the fledgling Civil Air Patrol.
The Cirrus T-53A is used at the Air Force Academy for flight instruction… the civilian SR-20 is used similarly.
This VC-131 is a Navy version of the Convair 580 airliner. Other Convair big twins used by the U.S. military included the T-29 navigator trainer and the C-131 transport.

Ken Kula

Assignment and Content Editor, writer and photographer A New Englander all of my life, I've lived in New Hampshire since 1981. My passion for all things aviation began at a very early age, and I coupled this with my interest of photography during college in the late 1970s. I spent 35 years in the air traffic control industry, and concurrently, enjoyed my aviation photography and writing adventures, which continue today. I've been quite fortunate to have been mentored by some generous and gifted individuals. I enjoy contributing to this great site and working with some very knowledgeable and equally passionate aviation followers.

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