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Beech Ru-21h Ute

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WarbirdsNews recently reported on progress with the 138th Aviation Company Memorial and their efforts to create a fitting monument to the service and sacrifice of the men and women of their unit from the Viet Nam War […]

As most readers will remember, Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress 44-83718 (N900RW) has been undergoing restoration within a hangar at the Erickson Aircraft Collection in Madras, Oregon since its arrival some three years ago. This aircraft, […]
Over the past year, WarbirdsNews has been following and posting updates on the efforts being made by the 138th Aviation Company Memorial in Orlando, Florida. The small organization is trying to put together a fitting tribute to the […]For the past two years or so, WarbirdsNews has been following the 138th Aviation Company Memorial in their efforts to locate, restore and place a representative aircraft from their unit as a remembrance for their service and […]
Le Beechcraft U-21 Ute est un avion utilitaire bimoteur turbopropulsé développé spécifiquement pour l’US Army. C’est un appareil hybride entre le Queen Air, dont il conserve le fuselage non pressurisé et les vitres de cabine carrées, et le King Air dont il possède la voilure, associée à des turbopropulseurs T74-CP-700 (version militaire du PT6A-20). Malgré leurs désignations les U-21F sont des Model 100 King Air et les U-21J des Model 200 King Air.
The Guardrail I, II, and IIA systems all utilized the specially modified RU-21G airframe, which was based on the Left Foot system’s RU-21E airframe. Guardrail IV utilized a RU-21E airframe with fewer modifications. The US Army procured the first three King Air 200s, designated the RU-21J, in 1971 for use with the Cefly Lancer system. A number of U-21Js for non-SEMA missions were also acquired. Further variants of the King Air 200 series were designated as members of the C-12 series. When the RU-21J aircraft were retired and repurposed for non-SEMA missions, they were redesignated as C-12L. The Guardrail airborne platform consists of a special electronic mission (SEMA) aircraft and its payload. The SEMA aircraft used in the Guardrail system were initially based on the U-21 Ute aircraft, until transitioning to the C-12 Huron aircraft as part of the Improved Guardrail V program. The airframe includes navigation, avionics and survivability equipment.These aircraft were in a long line of SEMA that had made use of the U-21 Ute aircraft, beginning with the the Left Jab JU-21A aircraft deployed to Vietnam assigned to Army Security Agency Group, Vietnam conducting “Radio Research,” a cover story for intelligence gathering operations. Thus began a long line of U-21 based SEMA, including Cefirm Leader RU-21A/B/C, the Laffing Eagle RU-21D, and the Left Foot RU-21E.

The RU-21H aircraft, derived from the RU-21G aircraft or other older SEMA was upgraded with high flotation landing gear for a 10,200 gross maximum weight limit. The aircraft was certified with wing extensions/pods and the other mission airframe modifications. Two 200 amp generators and extra 400 hertz inverters supported the mission electronics and avionics. Twenty-one aircraft were converted to the RU-21H configuration. The mission enunciator panel located on the aircraft instrument panel has the Mission Active switch and indicator lights to warn the pilot of mission faults such as over temperature, loss of link synchronization and processor lock-up. The ARF Status panel located on the mission racks behind the co-pilot shows more detailed mission parameters and has the ARF (1, 2 or 3) designator control. The crews responsibility is only to fly the aircraft and to monitor the health of the mission equipment.In 1976, the Guardrail V system began development in order to develop and provide a supportable Corps level system to the Army, until the planned Cefly Lancer development was completed. The Guardrail V aircraft were converted from earlier Guardrail I/IIA aircraft, Laffing Eagle RU-21Ds, and unmodified U-21G airframes. These new aircraft were designated as RU-21H, the big improvement was the addition of wingtip pods to replace many of the blade antennas of the previous Guardrail aircraft.

It’s one of the C-90 birds, and to my eye, it looks a lot like the RU-21 Ute. What do you think? The fuselage sides look fairly flat, so cutting out the resin and fitting square windows might not be too much of a chore. I’ve had some experience with making windows and gluing them into a resin fuselage using clear epoxy, so that prospect doesn’t scare me off. Let me know what you think.
The primary Airborne Radio Direction Finding Aircraft that served in Vietnam as part of the 224th Avn Bn and subordinate companies were the RU-1A Otter, RU-6A Beaver, RU-8D Seminole (Winebottle System) RU-21D Ute (Laffing Eagle) JU-21A Ute (Left Jab) (one of which was shot down by a SA-2 near the DMZ on 4 MAR 71) and even converted P2-V Neptunes (AP-2E Crazy Cat System)thats definitely the kit to start with. one other thing you will need to do is cut down the wing tips and reshape them. the early king airs like the U-21 had shorter wings.

I think the RVHP King Air C-90A might be close, but the cabin windows in the Ute were square, so that’s a major modification, made even more difficult because it’s a resin kit. Mach 2 makes an RC–12K in plastic, but I it has different engines, a T-tail, and (I think) a different fuselage, not to mention a lot of antenna holes to fill. The US Army flew a lot of these during the Viet Nam War. I’m surprised some manufacturer hasn’t made one, or at least the civilian version, which remains a popular aircraft. Does anyone know how I might go about building one?I ended up ordering a VC-6A from RVHP Models, by way of Hannants. I’m hoping I can make a proper Vietnam-era airplane from it, although I expect that my skills will be put to the test before I’m done. This kit comes with the decals to make the (US Army) airplane that Werhner Von Braun used in 1966, ferrying to and from the White Sands Missile Range, and I expect to be able to use some of them.