OSH Warbirds in Review Part #1 80 Years Young, North American’s Texan
All photos by Scott Jankowski – mainly from the EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2018 event, with additional file photos – Ed.
On September 18th 1938 the first of an eventual 15,495 North American Aviation Texans took to the sky. The Texan is known by many different names including the AT-6 by the United States Army Air Corps, the SNJ by the United States Navy, and the Harvard by the British Commonwealth Air Forces. The T-6 designation would be officially adopted by the United States Air Force in 1948, the United States Navy would also adopt the T-6 designation in 1962. The Texan would become the primary single engine trainer of thousands of U.S. and Allied Pilots through World War II.
Texans were used by over 60 different countries in a variety of roles including combat operations. The United States Air Force would use the Texan in combat operations during the Korean War and to a lesser extent the Vietnam War. These Texans would be designated as T-6D Mosquito’s and were used as FAC’s (Forward Air Control) aircraft. Texans would serve until 1995 when the South African Air Force finally retired the type for a more advanced model of trainer. The Texan is powered by a single 600 Horsepower Wasp Radial Engine that gives the Texan a top speed of 208 mph. Texans have also starred in Hollywood movies and Television shows as well. Texans have been converted into replica Japanese Zero’s and have appeared in Tora,Tora,Tora, The Final Countdown, and Black Sheep Squadron.
AirVenture 2018 celebrated the Texan featuring Three Aerobatic Teams that fly the Texan. Those were the Geico Skytypers, Aeroshell, and the Canadian Harvard Aerobatic Team. Texans also flew in the daily Warbird Airshow, usually in mass formation flyovers. There are over 500 Texans of all models still flying around the world today.
The Texan name lives on today in the form of the Raytheon Beechcraft T-6 Texan II. The Texan II first flew in 2000 and was introduced into service with the US Military in 2001. The Texan II also fulfills the role of Primary and Intermediate Trainer. Texan II’s fly with the United States Air Force, United States Navy and many other air forces around the world. Approximately 850 Texan II’s are currently in service.
The Texan trained thousands of pilots and played a vital part in World War two, and continues to fulfill that training mission today. Until next time, “Blue skies to all!”