Beechcraft already had a small commuter aircraft, the Beech 99, but this has no pressurised cabin, making it difficult to compete with for example the Swearingen Metroliner. Therefore the company developed a new aircraft based on the King Air 200 series. Therefore many elements may come familiar - sometimes in a slightly modified way - like the cockpit windows, engine nacelles, landing gear and T-tail. The Beech 1900 has oval cabin windows though, in a somewhat rectangular cross section fuselage. Additions, to increase stability, are fins extending down from the horizontal tail plane and horizontal fins attached to the rear fuselage.
The different versions of Beech 1900 can be distinguished by
- the number of airstair cabin doors on the left
- the presence of a large bagage/cargo door
- the high of the fuselage
- the size of the ventral fins
No more than three examples of the original Beech 1900 were built. It has two airstair doors on the left side, at the front and rear of the fuselage. Beechcraft soon learned that only the front would be sufficient for a nineteen seat aircraft and quickly changed production to the next version.
Beech 1900C & 1900C-1
On the Beech 1900C the rear door was replaced by a large, wider door giving access to the bagage compartment. For the rest it is the same as the original 1900. The 1900C has bladder fuel tanks in the wings, while the 1900C-1 has wet wing tanks, so without bladders. This is not visible on the outside though...
The corporate version of the 1900C was marketed as King Air ExecLiner.
The US Air Force acquired six 1900Cs that received designation C-12J, stressing the commonality with the C-12 Super King Air.
The most popular version of the Beech 1900 family is the 1900D. It has a raised roof, giving more head room for passengers moving around in the cabin. To counter the increased drag winglets were added to the wing tips, while two large ventral fins provide more stability.
Confusion possible with
The Beech 1900 at first looks like a strecthed Super King Air. Indeed both types share the typical King Air cockpit windows, and to a large extent also the wings, engine nacelles and tail. However, apart from the length you can recognise a Beech 350 by the round cabin windows.
Embraer's Brasilia has the same basic configuration as the Beech 1900, but is bigger and with a round fuselage. Additionally it has four curved cockpit windows, two wheels on the nose gear and no stabilising fins on the tail.