The Beech Model 25 project was designed to provide the Army Air Force with a small, twin engine trainer suitable for developing pilot skills in retractable landing gear twins. It was to be produced with primarily wood construction because there was fear that aluminum suitable for airframes would become scarce as the war progressed. The original model 25 prototype crashed on May 5, 1941. Despite the accident, the design was promising, so Beech went ahead with further development of the design. Work on the trainer, now designated Model 26, began the next day. 1
Deliveries began in February 1942 and ended in 1943 after 1,771 were completed by Beech. Another 600 were produced by Globe Aircraft in 1944.
The Wichita, as it was named, was an important step in the development of twin engine fighter and two and four engined bomber crews, acting as an intermediate airplane between light, single engine trainers and the heavy, high performance twins.