T-6 Texan / SNJ / Harvard
(Variants/Other Names: See History
North American SNJ-5 N3645F
by Buck Wyndham
History: 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. The original
order of 94 AT-6 Texans differed little from subsequent versions such as the AT-6A
(1,847) which revised the fuel tanks or the AT-6D (4,388) and AT-6F
(956) that strengthened as well as lightened the frame with the use of light alloys. In
all, more than 17,000 airframes were designed to the Texan standards.
North American's rapid production of the T-6 Texan
coincided with the wartime expansion of the United States air war commitment. As of 1940,
the required flights hours for combat pilots earning their wings had been cut to just 200
during a shortened training period of seven months. Of those hours, 75 were logged in the
U.S. Navy pilots flew the airplane extensively, under the SNJ
designation, the most common of these being the SNJ-4, SNJ-5
British interest in the Texan design was piqued as early as
1938 when it ordered 200 under the designation Harvard Mk I or
"Harvard As Is" for service in Southern Rhodesia training under the Commonwealth
Air Training Program. As the Harvard Mk I (5,000+) design was modeled after the early BC-1
design, the subsequent Harvard Mk II utilized the improvements
of the AT-6 models. During 1944, the AT-6D design was adopted by the RAF and named the Harvard
MK III. This version was used to train pilots in instrument training in the
inclement British weather and for senior officers to log required airtime. Much to the
chagrin of the Air Force High Command, the Harvard "hack" was often used for
non-military activities like joy-riding and unofficial jaunts across the English
During 1946, the Canadian Car and Foundry company developed
the Harvard Mk IV trainer and
produced 285 of them 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 tailwheel.
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.
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. Today, over 350
T-6 Texans remain in airworthy condition. Most of the former "hacks" are based
in North America and are a reminder of the importance of simplicity in training and
Nicknames: Pilot Maker; Old
Growler (USA); Window Breaker (UK); Mosquito (Korean war USAF LT-6G
Forward Air Control aircraft); J-Bird (SNJ)
Engine: One 600-hp Pratt & Whitney R-1340-AN-1 radial piston engine
Weight: Empty 4,158 lbs., Max
Takeoff 5,300 lbs.
Wing Span: 42ft. 0.25in.
Length: 29ft. 6in.
Height: 11ft. 9in.
Range: 750 miles
Number Built: 17,000+
Number Still Airworthy:
[ "Flying the T-6", a
Warbird Alley special feature by John Hyle.]
T-6 Pilot Report by Budd
[ T-6 Photos ]
AD# 2005-12-51 -- Airworthiness Directive regarding the wing attach
-- Step-by-step restoration log of an AT-6 at Chino, California, USA.
Biplane Adventures, Ltd, San Diego,
California -- SNJ-4 rides.
Canadian Harvard Aircraft Association
"J's Bird" -- John Hyle's
Harvard, available for airshows and instruction.
Supply, Dallas, Texas, USA -- Extensive spare parts inventory for T-6,
SNJ and Harvard aircraft.
Museum, Rexburg, Idaho, USA -- Offers T-6 flight training.
The Mosquitos (6147th Tactical Control
North American Trainer Association
"A Roll in the Sky
with a Navy SNJ" -- A pilot report by Rob Guglielmetti.
T-6 Racing Association
T-6 Rides in Front Royal, Virginia, USA
T-6 Texan History -- North
American Aviation's official history of the aircraft.
Classic AT-6" -- Wonderful photo essay by Max Haynes.
[ Click for more great books
the T-6 / SNJ / Harvard. ]
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