The Boeing Stearman got her name from an American aviation engineer, Lloyd Stearman.
Hit the above button to read about his remarkable career. 

 

Stearman Aviation
De Stearman Aircraft Company was founded in 1926 by Lloyd Stearman. Lloys was a young engineer and learned to fly in World War I.
His company mainly built biplanes for commercial aviation. Air mail was a quick-growing activity in the USA. Airplanes designed by Lloyd Stearman proofed to be highly successful mail planes. Stearman Aviation delivered planes to Varney Airlines and US Mail.

   
   

US Air Mail, 1926
   

One of the first Stearman airplanes, delivered to Varney Airlines in 1926
   

Sold
In 1929 Lloyd Stearman sold his company to “United Aircraft and Transport Company”.
United Airlines, Pratt & Whitney, Hamilton-Standard Propellors, Boeing, Sikorsky and Vought Aircraft were already parts of this company.

Lloyd Stearman stayed for some years as manager and designer. The anti-trust laws of 1934 led to dismantling of the holding. Boeing went forward independently and directly bought the Stearman Factories. From then on the Stearmans officially were called Boeings.

Training plane
In the early 1930’s the American Forces urgently needed pilots and training planes.
The Cloudboy, an earlier design of Lloyd Stearman, almost met the specifications that were put forward by the American Government.
Stearman Aviation ordered two designers, Harold Zipp and Jack Clark, to harmonize the Cloudboy with the specs of the Government. The basic structure and dimensions remained the same, but the looks changed due to different wing tips and a rounded off tail. The fuselage got a more oval shape. A striking novelty was the modern landing gear.


   
   

Stearman Cloudboy
   

Een Amerikaanse cadet en instructeur bij een Boeing Stearman.

The Boeing Stearman
Stearman Aviation called the prototype, Model 70. This finally evolved into model 75, having some minor modifications. The American Government applied the name “Kaydet” instead of the number allocation, as this was easier to understand by the public. Being designed and produced by the Stearman division of Boeing, the common name “Boeing Stearman” was generally accepted.

Thousands of pilots from 1939 till 1945 got their basic flight training on Stearmans. Subsequently they got advanced training to prepare them for flying bombers like the B25 “Mitchell”, the B17 “Flying Fortress” or the B24 “Liberator”. Other pilots were assigned to fly the pursuit planes like the P51 “Mustang”, the P47 “Thunderbolt” or the P38 “Lightning”.
    

Different types
Different types of Boeing Stearmans were produced for the American Forces. Initially the PT-13 with a 225 hp Lycoming R-680 engine. To overcome a lack of these engines, another power plant was introduced in 1940. It was the Continental W670 220 hp radial engine. Planes with this engine were called PT-17’s.
Other “Kaydets” had Jacobs R755 engines, named the PT-18. The US Navy ordered Kaydets and the PT-13 was called N2S-2 or N2S-5.
The PT-17’s of the US Navy were called N2S-1, N2S-3 or N2S-4.
The Boeing Stearman model E75 were accepted by the Army Air Force under the code PT-13D. The US Navy called these the N2S-5.
   

   

American Cadets and a Boeing Stearman

   

Lloys Stearman together with the last Kaydet ever built.

The last Stearman
In total 10.346 Boeing Stearmans were built. The last one rolling of the production line can de admired in the Airforce Museum in Dayton, Ohio.
The Boeing Stearman is the biplane that was built in greatest numbers in the USA.

Worldwide only the Russian Polikarpov PO2 (1930-1941) and the Antonov AN-2 exceed these numbers.
   
   

Surplus
When the war ended, modern training aircraft replaced the aging Stearman. The now obsolete Stearman planes were sold as scrap. Quite a number however, found new ways of living when they were bought by individuals and companies.

The low purchase price (as low as US $ 250), the sturdy structure and the relative easy handling characteristics made the plane extremely well suited as crop sprayer.

New, more powerful, engines were installed as well a chemic container in the cockpit plus spray booms under the wings.
   
   

Surplus Stearmans
Hill Airforce Base, Utah
   

Boeing-Stearman
cropduster

Second career
And this is how the Stearman started a second career. Crop spraying from the air seemed to be the ideal solution to free the immense agricultural land in the USA from unwanted plants and insects. The Boeing Stearmans were the first planes ever to be converted on a large scale to crop sprayers. Quickly they formed the back bone of the agricultural fleet.

Some other Stearmans were put to good use as aerobatic plane.


   
   

A new hobby
In the 1950’s a new hobby emerged; restoring vintage airplanes.
The “Kaydet” got a third career. Owning an antique aircraft suddenly had a charm. The crop sprayers that were phased out carried extreme colour schemes, but many of them were converted back to their original paint schemes that they carried from 1936 to 1945 as a plane of the US Forces.


Stearman in Navy colour scheme.