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T-6 Texan

History of the T-6 Texas Trainer

North American AT-6C aircraft in flight
North American AT-6C aircraft in flight

The North American Aviation T-6 Texan was a single-engine advanced trainer aircraft used to train pilots of the United States Army Air Forces, United States Navy, Royal Air Force and other air forces of the British Commonwealth during World War II and the 1950s.

Designed by North American Aviation, the T-6 is known by a variety of designations depending on the model and operating air force. The USAAC and USAAF designated it as the AT-6, the United States Navy the SNJ, and British Commonwealth air forces, the Harvard, the name it is best known by outside of the US. After 1962, US forces designated it the T-6.

The AT-6 family of Advanced Trainers first entered service in 1938, and variants continued in service for decades. About 1,800 of the AT-6A model were built. The naval version of the AT-6 is the SNJ; the approximate equivalent of the AT-6A is SNJ-3, and another 270 of these were built.

AT-6A airplanes were built at the original North American factory in Inglewood, California and at a new plant in Dallas, TX; the Dallas plant was the dominant source of the model. The AT-6A features a 600 HP Pratt & Whitney R-1340-49 radial engine, a variable-pitch propeller and retractable main landing gear. It also could be fitted with machine guns for use in gunnery training.

Later versions of the AT-6 (which was by then referred to simply as the T-6) continued in service after WWII.  In addition to a training role, T-6's were used as forward air control aircraft during the Korean War.  They were often referred to as "Mosquitos" during this action.  Several countries also used armed T-6 airplanes as ground attack or counter-insurgency aircraft.

 

For more than six decades after its design in 1937, the North American AT-6 Texan were used throughout the world as advanced trainers, artillery spotters (in Korea and Vietnam among other theaters), and as counterinsurgency and fighter-bombers by numerous developing countries. The last known military use of the Texan was by the South Africa Air Force as a trainer, in 1995, which gives it a working history of 60 years, a figure virtually unrivaled in the history of military aviation.

North American T-6 Texan TOPPS Card #47
North North American T-6 Texan TOPPS Card #47 (from the TOPPS Wings Friend or Foe Trading Card collection)

Today there are hundreds of Texans flying in private hands, and their value continues to rise.

One reason there are so many T-6s still flying is because so many were built. From 1937 to the early 1950s North American and other manufacturers produced more than 16,000 Texans to satisfy the demand for advanced airplane trainers.

It remains a popular warbird aircraft used for airshow demonstrations and static displays, as seen in the photos below on this page.

T-6 Texan Specifications

Span: 42 ft.
Length: 29 ft. 6 in.
Height: 10 ft. 10 in.
Weight: 5,617 lbs. loaded
Armament: None (some AT-6s used for gunnery/bombing training)
Engine: Pratt & Whitney R-1340 of 600 hp.
Cost: $27,000 (in 1942)
Maximum speed: 210 mph.
Cruising speed: 145 mph.
Range: 770 miles
Service Ceiling: 23,200 ft.

T-6 Texan Photos

North American T-6 Texan, S/N 51-14429, Buzz Number TA-429, N729AM,
operated by the Frontiers of Flight Museum, Dallas, Texas (Staff photo)
North American T-6 Texan, S/N 51-14429, TA-429, N729AM
North American T-6 Texan, "Miss Texas", S/N 51-14429, TA-429, N729AM (Staff photo)
North American T-6 Texan, "Miss Texas", S/N 51-14429, TA-429, N729AM
North American T-6 Texan, S/N 51-14429, TA-429, N729AM,
parked at Pounds Regional Airport, Tyler Texas,
for the 2013 Thunder over Cedar Creek Air Show (Staff photo)
North American T-6 Texan, S/N 51-14429, TA-429, N729AM, parked at Pounds Regional Airport, Tyler Texas, for the 2013 Thunder over Cedar Creek Air Show

 

 

North American T-6G Texan 7725,
restored and operated by the Flight of the Phoenix Aviation Museum, Gilmer, Texas (Staff photo)
North American T-6G Texan 7725
North American T-6 Texan 7725 (Staff photo)
North American T-6G Texan 7725
North American T-6 Texan 7725 (Staff photo)
North American T-6G Texan 7725
T-6G Texan, S/N 42-84216, Buzz Number TA-216, Museum of the U.S. Air Force, Dayton, Ohio (Staff photo)
T-6G Texan, Buzz Number TA-216, Museum of the U.S. Air Force, Dayton, Ohio
T-6G Texan S/N 49-3217, Museum of Aviation, Warner-Robins, Georgia (Staff photo)
T-6G Texan S/N 49-3217
SNJ-4 Texan of the US Navy, BU 51360, at the March Field Air Museum in California (Staff Photo)
SNJ-4 Texan of the US Navy, BU 51360, at the March Field Air Museum in California
T-6G Texan Registration F-AZEF, Melun, France, 2019 (Photo by DELEHELLE Eric)
T-6G Texan Registration F-AZEF, Melun, France
T6 Texan Registration F-AZCM, seen here at Luxeuil in France, 2015 (Photo by DELEHELLE Eric)
T6 Texan Registration F-AZCM, seen here at Luxeuil in France
AT-6D Texan, Registration F-AZRB, Couhé, France in 2016 (Photo by DELEHELLE Eric)
AT-6D Texan, Registration F-AZRB, Couhé, France in 2016
AT-6C Texan, Registration F-AZBE, in flight over Melun, France in 2019 (Photo by DELEHELLE Eric)
AT-6C Texan, Registration F-AZBE, in flight over Melun, France in 2019
T-6 Texan Registration F-AZIB, Belvès, France in 2015 (Photo by DELEHELLE Eric)
T-6 Registration F-AZIB, Belvès, France
Nose view of T-6 Texan, Registration F-AZIB, Belvès, France in 2015 (Photo by DELEHELLE Eric)
Nose view of T-6 Texan, Registration F-AZIB, Belvès, France
T-6G Texan, Registration F-AZAU, at St Dizier France in 2011 (Photo by DELEHELLE Eric)
T-6G Texan, Registration F-AZAU, at St Dizier France
T-6 Texan, Registration F-AZCM, at Luxeuil in France, 2011 (Photo by DELEHELLE Eric)
T-6 Texan, Registration F-AZCM, at Luxeuil in France
T-6 Texan, Registration F-AZAT, at Pontoise, France in 2012 (Photo by DELEHELLE Eric)
T-6 Texan, Registration F-AZAT, at Pontoise, France
Nose art on T-6 Texan "Multipurpose Maid", Registration F-AZQR, at Angers, France (Photo by DELEHELLE Eric)
Nose art on T-6 Texan "Multipurpose Maid", Registration F-AZQR

T-6 Texan, Registration F-AZGS, 432, Reims, France in 2009 (Photo by DELEHELLE Eric)
T-6 Texan, Registration F-AZGS, 432, Reims, France

 

 

AT-6 Harvard Mk-IV of the Alaska Wing of the Commemorative Air Force, RCAF 421, Registration Number N421QB
in flight over the Eagle River in Alaska. (Photo courtesy of Alaska Professional Photography)
AT-6 Harvard MkIV of the Commemorative Air Force, RCAF 421, Registration Number N421QB
AT-6 at Buckley Air Force Base, Aurora, Colorado (photo by Michael Hoschouer)
AT-6 on display at Buckley Air Force Base, Aurora, Colorado