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TEMCO T-35 / TE-1 Buckaroo


Pappy Gunn landed a post-war job as technical advisor to the Philippine Air Force, and leaked word that the PAF just might be in the market for a tiny tandem trainer that could mount a pair of machine guns in the wing to go shoot up rebellious natives or whatever. Robert McCullough, who was then president of TEMCO, asked the sales department whether a commercial version of such a plane would find a market, and when they said yes, the engineers, under Dave Tacke, got busy and hand-built a modification of a standard Swift into what was called the TE-1A.

The only changes in this initial prototype were to install tandem instead of side-by-side seats, tandem controls, a new canopy and a squared off rudder, much like that of the T-6. The sirnilarity was not accidental TEMCO was originally founded to hold together a postwar production team of outstanding skill, and more than 90% of the employees had worked for North American building T-6s and P-51 Mustangs. To come up with something in a hurry, the prototype trainer was designed originally as a converted Swift, which was already in production at TEMCO since Globe went bankrupt.

In late 1948 the first TE-1A prototype was ready to fly, behind a 125-horsepower Continental, when word came that the USAF planned a competition in early 1949 for a new primary basic trainer. There was no time for a major redesign, so they cleaned up the canopy and sent the ship off to Wright Field to compete against the Fairchild T-31 and the Beech T-34, with Fairchild winning that round. Forgetting the Air Force's interest, TEMCO decided to press on with the Buckaroo as a COIN aircraft for smaller foreign governments, brought in a noted small-plane engineer, H.G. Erickson, and went to work on a complete new program to come up with a really first class plane with no restrictions.

Scrapping the original TE-1A design, a whole new aircraft was evolved, still designated the TE-1A, of the same general weight, type, and configuration, but designed to military standards. Starting from scratch with a plaster and steel mockup, they, designed a brand new fuselage and wing center section, bulging the rear fuselage slightly, raising the deck, lengthening the nose and adding three inch's to the overall length. Outer wing panels were stressed to 9 G's and the tips squared off. The only vestige of its Swift lineage was to leave in the leading edge slot assembly, which gave more positive control at low airspeed.

About the only parts of the original airframe left were the cowl and canopy, neither of which survived the initial flight test stage. The canopy became a three-piece sliding type with magnesium framework, and the cowl was redesigned to provide downdraft rather than updraft cooling.

Other changes included a panel redesign to conform to the Air Force Standard Cockpit layout that originated with the T-6 Texan in World War 11, addition of an Aeromatic Model F-200H propeller with altitude control, a 24-voll electrical system, and a single fuel tank of 27.6 gallon capacity.

The finished product looked so good that in late 1949 TEMCO tooled up for limited production of 10 items, with 145-horsepower Continentals' but just then they heard through the grapevine that the Air Force actually wanted to buy three YT-35s, as they were then called, for a new evaluation at Randolph AFB (the earlier USAF contract had been cancelled). So the horsepower went from 145 to 165 and the Buckaroo went to the lists as the TE-1B.

The official policy line was no more taildraggers in the Air Force.

The Israeli Air Force got the first TE-IA in June, 1950, with machine guns and ten 2.75-inch rockets, while the original three TE-1Bs, designated YT-35 Buckaroos, went to the Air Force the next month. Saudi Arabia took delivery of ten more Buckaroos, and that was that.

The three USAF TE-1Bs were finally shipped to San Marcos AFB as instrument trainers for Field Force Liaison Pilots, and ten months later were returned to TEMCO for factory overhaul preparatory to still another round of evaluation tests at Goodfellow AFB, against the YT-34, with a T-6 Texan serving as control ship. Thus it was that Beech beat out TEMCO and the three TE-1Bs (or YT-35s) went up for sale as military surplus.

A Jack Hardwick picked up the three Buckaroos from the government and eventually disposed of them.



Engine: 165 h.p. Franklin 6A4-165-B3
Span: 29 ft. 2 in
Weight: 1,975 lb
Max. Speed: 156 mph



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