The North American T-6 Texan was known as “the pilot maker” because of its important role in preparing pilots for combat. Derived from the 1935 North American NA-16 prototype, a cantilever low-wing monoplane, the Texan filled the need for a basic combat trainer during WW II and beyond. In all, more than 17,000 airframes were produced to the Texan standards.
U.S. Navy pilots flew the airplane extensively, under the SNJ designation, the most common of these being the SNJ-4, SNJ-5 and SNJ-6. British RAF and Canadian RCAF T-6’s where known as Harvard’s.
During 1946, the Canadian Car and Foundry company developed the Harvard Mk IV trainer to the specifications of the T-6G and produced 285 T-6Js under the same design for the USAF Mutual Aid Program. Designated the T-6G, the Texan saw major improvements in increased fuel capacity, an improved cockpit layout, as well as a steerable tail wheel.
U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy forces in the Korean War modified the Texan under the LT-6G designation and employed it in battlefield surveillance, as Forward Air Controllers (FAC). These aircraft earned the nickname “Mosquito’s” because they where small but had a nasty sting!
Although the US retired the T-6 from active duty by the end of the 1950’s, several nations, including Brazil, China, and Venezuela, utilized “the pilot maker” as their basic trainer well into the 1970’s. The South African Air Force was the last user of the Harvard with the SAAF Central Flying School, Langebaanweg, finally retiring them in November 1995! An amazing 60 years after the first flight of the type. Today, over 350 T-6 Texans remain in airworthy condition.
The aircraft on display is the only former Royal New Zealand Air Force Harvard to ever be imported into the U.S. It is painted in the RNZAF “Red Checkers” aerial display team colors.
Operational History of this Aircraft:
- Engine: Pratt & Whitney R1340-AN-1 Wasp Radial Engine
- Horsepower: 600 hp
- Weight: Empty 4,158 lb
- Max Takeoff 5,617 lb
- Wing Span: 42 ft.
- Length: 29 ft.
- Height: 11 ft. 8 in
- Maximum Speed: 208 mph
- Cruise Speed: 145 mph
- Ceiling: 24,200 ft.
- Range: 730 miles
- Crew: 2 (Instructor and Student)
- Armament: Up to 3x 0.30 in. (7.62mm) machine gun