North American T-6 Texan
|USAAF AT-6Cs near Luke Field, 1943
||North American Aviation
||1 April 1935
||1995 (South African Air Force)
||United States Army Air Forces
United States Navy
Royal Air Force
South African Air Force
||North American NA-16
||North American A-27
The North American Aviation T-6 Texan is a single-engined advanced trainer aircraft used to train pilots of the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF), United States Navy, Royal Air Force and other air forces of the British Commonwealth during World War II and into the 1970s. Designed by North American Aviation, the T-6 is known by a variety of designations depending on the model and operating air force. The United States Army Air Corps (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. It remains a popular warbird aircraft used for airshow demonstrations and static displays. It has also been used many times to simulate the Japanese Mitsubishi Zero in movies depicting World War II in the Pacific.
An original T-6 Texan aircraft (painted as a US Navy SNJ), right, with the new T-6 Texan II, left, at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas, in 2007
A South African Air Force Harvard under restoration exposing internal structure
Student (L, front) and instructor (R, aft) cockpits
The Texan originated from the North American NA-16
prototype (first flown on April 1, 1935) which, modified as the NA-26,
was submitted as an entry for a USAAC "Basic Combat" aircraft
competition in March, 1937. The first model went into production and 180 were supplied to the USAAC as the BC-1 and 400 to the RAF as the Harvard I. The US Navy received 16 modified aircraft, designated the SNJ-1, and a further 61 as the SNJ-2 with a different engine.
The BC-1 was the production version of the NA-26 prototype, with
retractable tailwheel landing gear and the provision for armament, a
two-way radio, and the 550 hp (410 kW) R-1340-47 engine as standard
equipment. Production versions included the BC-1 (Model NA-36) with only minor modifications (177 built), of which 30 were modified as BC-1I instrument trainers; the BC-1A (NA-55) with airframe revisions (92 built); and a single BC-1B with a modified wing center-section.
Three BC-2 aircraft were built before the shift to the "advanced trainer" designation, AT-6,
which was equivalent to the BC-1A. The differences between the AT-6 and
the BC-1 were new outer wing panels with a swept forward trailing edge,
squared-off wingtips and a triangular rudder, producing the canonical
Texan silhouette. After a change to the rear of the canopy, the AT-6 was
designated the Harvard II for RAF/RCAF orders and 1,173 were supplied by purchase or Lend Lease, mostly operating in Canada as part of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan.
Next came the AT-6A which was based on the NA-77 design and was powered by the Pratt & Whitney R-1340-49 Wasp radial engine. The USAAF received 1,549 and the US Navy 270 (as the SNJ-3). The AT-6B was built for gunnery training and could mount a .30 in machine gun
on the forward fuselage. It used the R-1340-AN-1 engine, which was to
become the standard for the remaining T-6 production. Canada's Noorduyn Aviation built an R-1340-AN-1-powered version of the AT-6A, which was supplied to the USAAF as the AT-16 (1,500 aircraft) and the RAF/RCAF as the Harvard IIB (2,485 aircraft), some of which also served with the Fleet Air Arm and Royal Canadian Navy.
In late 1937 Mitsubushi purchased two NA-16s as technology demonstrators and possibly a licence to build more. However, the aircraft developed by Watanabe/Kyushu as the K10W1 (Allied code name Oak) bore no more than a superficial resemblance to the North American design. It featured a full monocoque
fuselage as opposed to the steel tube fuselage of the T-6 and NA-16
family of aircraft, as well as being of smaller dimensions overall and
had no design details in common with the T-6. It was used in very small
numbers by the Imperial Japanese Navy from 1942 onwards. After the war
the Japanese Air Self Defense Force operated Texans.
The NA-88 design resulted in 2,970 AT-6C Texans and 2,400 as the SNJ-4. The RAF received 726 of the AT-6C as the Harvard IIA. Modifications to the electrical system produced the AT-6D (3,713 produced) and SNJ-5 (1,357 produced). The AT-6D, redesignated the Harvard III,
was supplied to the RAF (351 aircraft) and Fleet Air Arm (564
aircraft). The AT-6G (SNJ-7) involved major advancements including a
full-time hydraulic system and a steerable tailwheel and persisted into
the 1950s as the USAF advanced trainer.
Subsequently the NA-121 design with a completely clear rearmost section on the canopy, gave rise to 25 AT-6F Texans for the USAAF and 931, as the SNJ-6 for the US Navy. The ultimate version, the Harvard 4, was produced by Canada Car and Foundry during the 1950s, and supplied to the RCAF, USAF and Bundeswehr.
A total of 15,495 T-6s of all variants were built.
20 AT-6 Texans were employed by the 1st and 2nd fighter squadrons of the Syrian Air Force in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War,
providing ground support for Syrian troops, and launching air strikes
against Israeli airfields, ships, and columns, losing one aircraft to
anti-aircraft fire. They also engaged in air-to-air combat on a number
of occasions, with a tail gunner shooting down an Israeli Avia S-199 fighter.
The Israeli Air Force
(IAF) bought 17 Harvards, and operated nine of them in the final stages
of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, against the Egyptian ground forces, with
no losses. In the Sinai Campaign IAF Harvards attacked Egyptian ground forces in Sinai Peninsula with two losses.
A USAF T-6 forward air control aircraft in Korea.
The Royal Hellenic Air Force
employed three squadrons of British and American supplied T-6D and G
Texans for close air support, observation, and artillery spotting duties
during the Greek Civil War,
providing extensive support to the Greek army during the Battle of
Gramos. Communist guerillas called these aircraft "O Galatas" ("The
Milkman"), because they saw them flying very early in the morning. After
the "Milkmen", the guerillas waited for the armed Spitfires and
During the Korean War and, to a lesser extent, the Vietnam War, T-6s were pressed into service as forward air control aircraft. These aircraft were designated T-6 "Mosquitos".
No. 1340 Flight RAF used the Harvard in Kenya against the Mau Mau in the 1950s, where they operated with 20 lb bombs and machine guns against the gangs. Some operations took place at altitudes around 20,000 ft above mean sea level.
A Harvard was the longest-serving RAF aeroplane, with an example, taken
on strength in 1945, still serving in the 1990s (as a chase plane for
helicopter test flights—a role for which the Shorts Tucano's high stall speed was ill-suited).
The T-6G was also used in a light attack or counter insurgency role by France during the Algerian war
in special Escadrilles d'Aviation Légère d'Appui (EALA), armed with
machine guns, bombs and rockets. At its peak, there were 38 EALAs
active. The largest unit was the Groupe d'Aviation Légère d'Appui 72,
which consisted of up to 21 EALAs.
From 1961 to 1975, Portugal used more than a hundred T-6Gs, also in the counter insurgency role, during the Portuguese Colonial War. During this war, almost all the Portuguese Air Force bases and air fields in Angola, Mozambique and Portuguese Guinea had a detachment of T-6Gs.
In 1955, Argentine Navy SNJ-4s were dispatched to attack government troops on June 16 during the Revolución Libertadora and one was shot down by a loyalist Gloster Meteor.
Argentine Navy SNJ-4s were also were used by the Colorado rebels in the 1963 Argentine Navy Revolt, launching attacks on the 8th Regimiento de Caballería de Tanques on April 2 and 3, knocking out several M4 Sherman tanks but losing one SNJ to anti-aircraft fire.
In 1957-58, the Spanish Air Force used T-6s as counterinsurgency aircraft in the Ifni War,
armed with machine guns, iron bombs and rockets, achieving an excellent
reputation due to its reliability, safety record and resistance to
The Pakistan Air Force
used T-6Gs in the 1971 war as a night ground support aircraft hitting
soft transport vehicles of the Indian army. In the early hours of 5
December, during a convoy interdiction mission in the same area,
Squadron Leader Israr Quresh's T-6G Harvard was hit by Indian
anti-aircraft ground fire and a shell fractured the pilot’s right arm.
Profusely bleeding, the pilot flew the aircraft back with his left hand
and landed safely. The World War II vintage prop-engined trainers were
pressed into service and performed satisfactorily in the assigned role
of convoy escorters at night.
T-6s remained in service, mainly as a result of the United Nations arms embargo against South Africa's Apartheid policies, with the South African Air Force as a basic trainer until 1995. They were replaced by Pilatus PC-7MkII turboprop trainers.
Recent research testbed
The Harvard 4 has also been recently used in Canada as a testbed aircraft for evaluating cockpit attitude displays.
Its aerobatic capability permits the instructor pilot to maneuver the
aircraft into unusual attitudes, then turn the craft over to an
evaluator pilot in the "blind" rear cockpit to recover, based on one of
several digitally-generated attitude displays.
Main article: North American T-6 Texan variants
WAVES washing an SNJ at NAS Jacksonville, Florida, USA.
Saudi Air Force Have T-6 Texan
- Argentine Army Aviation (SNJ-4)
- Argentine Naval Aviation (SNJ-4 and 30 SNJ-5Cs for carrier operations)
Restored Canadian Harvard II at 2005 Royal International Air Tattoo
- Bolivian Air Force
- Naval Aviation
- Royal Canadian Air Force
- Royal Canadian Navy
- National Research Council (still in use)
Colombian Air Force AT-6 Texan during World War II.
- Republic of China (Taiwan)
- Republic of China Air Force
- Republic of the Congo
- Cuban Air and Air Defense Force
- Dominican Republic
- El Salvador
Restored T-6D in Luftwaffe markings
Formation flying at the Commemorative Air Force Airsho 2008 (sic)
War Dog, an SNJ-5 painted in MCAS El Toro colors, seen during a 2004 airshow.
- German Air Force (Bundeswehr Luftwaffe)
- Hong Kong
- Royal Hong Kong Auxiliary Air Force
- Royal Indian Air Force
- Indian Air Force
- Indonesian Air Force - ex-Dutch aircraft.
- Italian Air Force operated 238 aircraft from 1949 until 1979
- Japan Air Self-Defense Force
- Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force
RNZAF Harvards at Onerahi Aerodrome, near Whangarei, New Zealand in 1961.
- Force Aérienne Katangaise
- Republic of Korea
- Republic of Korea Air Force
- Mexican Air Force Total of 120 delivered, 47 AT-6 and 73 T-6C
- Royal Netherlands Air Force
- Dutch Naval Aviation Service
- Royal Netherlands East Indies Army Air Force - Post war
- Mozambique Air and Air Defense Forces
- New Zealand - 1 maintained for historic flight
- Royal New Zealand Air Force
- Norway - 1 maintained for historic flight
T-6G in Portuguese Air Force museum
- Royal Norwegian Air Force
- Paraguayan Air Force
- Paraguayan Naval Aviation
South African Air Force Harvard IIA (equivalent to the AT-6C) in World War II era markings
- Portuguese Air Force
- Portuguese Naval Aviation
- South Africa
- Southern Rhodesia
- Southern Rhodesian Air Force
- South Vietnam
- Saudi Arabia
Restored Harvard II in RAF desert camouflage colours
- Soviet Union
- Swedish Air Force 145 Harvard IIb as Sk 16A, 106 T-6A, T-6B, SNJ-3, SNJ-4 as Sk 16B and 6 SNJ-2 as Sk 16C.
- Turkish Air Force: 196 planes of various types
- United Kingdom
- Royal Air Force
- Royal Navy
T-6G Texan fly by at 2010 - Hillsboro AirShow in Oregon, USA
- United States
- United States Army Air Corps/Army Air Forces
- United States Air Force
- United States Navy
- United States Marine Corps
- United States Coast Guard
- Uruguayan Air ForceAviacion Naval Uruguaya
T-6G Texan in Uruguayan Air Force Aeronautic Museum in Montevideo, Uruguay.
Line drawings for the T-6/SNJ
Data from Jane’s Fighting Aircraft of World War II
- Crew: two (student and instructor)
- Length: 29 ft (8.84 m)
- Wingspan: 42 ft (12.81 m)
- Height: 11 ft 8 in (3.57 m)
- Wing area: 253.7 ft² (23.6 m²)
- Empty weight: 4,158 lb (1,886 kg)
- Loaded weight: 5,617 lb (2,548 kg)
- Powerplant: 1 × Pratt & Whitney R-1340-AN-1 Wasp radial engine, 600 hp (450 kW)
- Maximum speed: 208 mph at 5,000 ft (335 km/h at 1,500 m)
- Cruise speed: 145 mph (233 km/h)
- Range: 730 miles (1,175 km)
- Service ceiling: 24,200 ft (7,400 m)
- Rate of climb: 1200ft/min (6.1 m/s)
- Wing loading: 22.2 lb/ft² (108 kg/m²)
- Power/mass: 0.11 hp/lb (kW/kg)
- Provision for up to 3× 0.30 in (7.62 mm) machine gun