Model Airplane News

Planes Worth Modeling: North American AT-6 Texan

- By the Model Airplane News crew

A single-engine, two-seat advanced trainer aircraft used to train pilots of the U.S. Army Air Forces (USAAF), U.S. Navy, Royal Air Force, and other air forces of the British Commonweal­th during World War II, and variants of the North American Aviation AT-6 Texan were used into the early 1970s. Known by various designatio­ns, the Air Corps (USAAC) and USAAF designated it as the AT-6, the U.S. Navy the SNJ, and British Commonweal­th air forces the Harvard. Starting in 1948, the new USAF Air Force (USAF) designated it the T-6, with the USN following in 1962.

The Texan originated from the North American NA-16 prototype (first flown on April 1, 1935). In 1935, NAA submitted this design for the U.S. Army Air Corps Basic Trainer Competitio­n. The modified NA-26 was submitted as an entry for a USAAC “Basic Combat Trainer” aircraft competitio­n in March 1937. Based on the NA-18, but with a foot longer wingspan, it was the first of the NA-16 series with retractabl­e gear. It was similar to the BT-9, but with a larger engine, the 550hp Pratt & Whitney R-1340 Wasp, and could accommodat­e two .30-cal guns. The BC-1 (NA-36) was the production version, with 177 built using R-1340-47 engines, the first delivered on June 9, 1937. Some 30 were modified as BC-1-I instrument trainers. The armed version, the BC-1A (NA-55-1), carried a .30-cal M-2 machine gun on the starboard nose, and a flexible M-2 in the rear. The 83 BC-1As built, used a NACA 2215 airfoil at the wing root, and a NACA 4412 airfoil at the tip, with a 178 gallon fuel capacity.

Today, the T-6 remains a very popular warbird aircraft used for airshow demonstrat­ions and static displays. A total of 15,495 T-6s of all variants were built.

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