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Beechcraft King Air

The Beechcraft King Air is a line of American utility aircraft produced by Beechcraft.

The King Airline comprises a number of twin-turboprop models that have been divided into two families.

The Model 90 and 100 series developed in the 1960s are known as King Airs, while the later T-tail Model 200 and 300 series were originally marketed as Super King Airs, with the name “Super” being dropped by Beechcraft in 1996

(Although it is still often used to differentiate the 200 and 300 series King Airs from their smaller stablemates).

Military King Air versions


The Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force (JMSDF) has operated a total of 40 C90 and C90A King Airs, with deliveries beginning in 1973.

These have been given various designations by the JMSDF and consist of 34 TC-90 trainers, five LC-90 transports and a single UC-90 which is configured for photographic aerial survey.

The TC-90s and the UC-90 are operated by the 202nd Naval Air Training Squadron (JMSDF) based at Tokushima Air Base, while the LC-90s are attached to various Lockheed P-3 Kokutai (Squadrons) and Air Transport Squadron 61 as liaison aircraft.

In late 2005 the JMSDF marked 500,000 accident-free flying hours of the TC-90 trainer fleet.

The JMSDF made plans to lease at least five TC-90 aircraft to the Philippines to conduct maritime patrols.

Two aircraft were transferred free of charge in March 2017.

From November 2016 to November 2017 six Philippine Navy pilots were trained to fly the aircraft at Tokushima Airport.

Maintenance staff were also trained.

United States

The U.S. military has used King Air 90s in various roles, primarily VIP and liaison transport, with designations including the VC-6A, the T-44 Pegasus, and the U-21 Ute.

The U-21 Ute used by the US Army was the most common version.

Most U-21s were unpressurized Model 87 derivatives, but there were also five U-21Fs based on the A100 King Air; and three U-21Js, which Beechcraft designated Model A100-1, but were actually the first three production Model 200 Super King Airs.

The majority of U-21s were delivered as U-21As, but there were also four RU-21As, three RU-21Bs, two RU-21Cs, 18 RU-21Ds, 16 RU-21Es, and 17 RU-21Gs.

The RU-21Es (except one written off) were later converted to U-21Hs and RU-21Hs, with two U-21Hs and an RU-21H being further converted to JU-21Hs.

In 1993, the three surviving RU-21As that remained in military service were retired and sent to JW Duff Aircraft Salvage in Denver Colorado.

On November 14, 2015, one of aircraft, was donated by Dynamic Aviation to the 138th Aviation Company Memorial to restore the aircraft to be displayed at Orlando International Airport.

The majority of the U-21 series were retired in the second half of the 1990s and most are now owned by Dynamic Aviation of Bridgewater, Virginia.

Some have been modified as spraying aircraft and are used on insect control work

The T-44A Pegasus is a trainer version, designated the Model H90 by Beechcraft, used to train United States Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and Air Force pilots to fly multi-engine aircraft.

A total of 61 were delivered to the US Navy between 1977 and 1980.

In August 2006, the Navy announced that after 29 years of operation, the T-44A fleet would be upgraded with modernized avionics systems, and redesignated T-44Cs.

Two VC-6A aircraft were operated by the US military.

One was a Model 65-A90 operated by the US Army and serial 66-15361 the other a B90, designated as a VC-6A (66-7943), was operated by the United States Air Force and used by President Johnson.

Air Force One

During the administration of President Lyndon Johnson, the United States Air Force acquired a Model B90 King Air “off-the-shelf”.

With the military designation VC-6A, the aircraft, serial 66-7943, was used to transport President Johnson between Bergstrom Air Force Base (near Austin, Texas) and the Johnson family ranch near Johnson City, Texas.

When Johnson was aboard, the aircraft used the call sign Air Force One.

After Johnson left office, the aircraft continued to serve in the 89th Military Airlift Wing as a VIP transport until its retirement in 1985.

This aircraft is now on display, with other presidential aircraft, at the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio.

Military designations


Modification of L-23 Seminole with PT6A-6 turboprops.

U-21A Ute

Utility aircraft for US Army, with fuselage of Queen Air 65-80 and wings of King Air 65-90, powered by 550 hp (410 kW) PT6A-20s. Beechcraft Model 65-A90-1.


Conversion of at least five U-21As as radio relay aircraft for use over Vietnam.

Later re-converted to U-21A standard.


Conversion of three U-21As with Left Jab Signals intelligence (SIGINT) system.

One of the system aircraft, (67-18065) with callsign “Vanguard 216” was shot down by a Surface to Air Missile near the DMZ on March 4, 1971.

All 5 crew members were declared KIA Bodies Not Recovered.

Two later re-converted to U-21A standard.


Conversion of four U-21As to carry Direction finding equipment as part of Cefirm Leader program, to work with RU-21B and RU-21C aircraft.


Signals intercept aircraft as part of Cefirm Leader program.

Powered by 620 hp (462 kW) PT6A-29s and with modified undercarriage.

Beechcraft Model 65-A90-2.


Similar to RU-21B but carrying jamming equipment as part of Cefirm Leader.

Beechcraft model 65-A90-3. Two built.


SIGINT aircraft system known as “Laffing Eagle” “V-Scan”, deployed to Vietnam, after the war many were converted to Guardrail RU-21H models, and others having their electronic equipment removed to become U-21D utility aircraft.

Beechcraft Model 65-A90-1.


ELINT version with Guardrail II, IIA or IV systems.

Beechcraft Model 65-A90-5.


Five King Air A100s used by US Army as transport/utility aircraft.

U-21G Ute

U-21A with modified cockpit, mainly used as utility aircraft, 17 conversions.


Three U-21Gs fitted with Guardrail I ELINT system.


Conversion of 21 RU-21D, E and F aircraft to carry Guardrail V ELINT system.

Higher gross weight.

U-21H Ute

Modification of 23 RU-21E and G aircraft replaced in the ELINT role by later aircraft to utility aircraft.


Two former RU-21Es converted as test aircraft.


Two B90 King Airs, powered by 550 shp (410 kW) PT6A-20s.

One used as transport by US Army, and one by USAF as VIP transport for President Lyndon B. Johnson.

T-44A Pegasus

Model H90 as a Multi-engine training aircraft for US Navy.

T-44C Pegasus

T-44A upgraded with the Rockwell Collins Pro Line 21 series avionics suite.


(King Air B100)




13 Max


39 ft 11 in / 12.17 m


45 ft 11 in / 14.0 m


15 ft 5 in / 4.7 m


279.7 ft2 / 26.0 m2

Empty Weight

7,092 lb / 3,212 kg


11,800 lb / 5,352 kg


2xTPE-331-6-251B or -252


715 shp / 533 kW


4 Bladed

Cruise TAS

237 kn / 463 km/h


265 kn / 491 km/h

Stall IAS (flaps down)

78 kn / 145 km/h


1,325 nmi / 2,455 km

Fuel consumption

2.08 lb/nmi (0.51 g/m)


24,850 ft / 7,574 m

Climb rate

2,140 ft/min / 10.87 m/s

Wing loading

42.2 lb/ft2 / 205.84 kg/m2


0.121 hp/lb / 199.17 W/kg

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