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 AT-6.
U.S. Navy pilots flew the airplane extensively, under the SNJ designation, the most common of these being the SNJ-4, SNJ-5 and SNJ-6.
Although the U.S. retired the T-6 from active duty by the end of the 1950's, several nations, including Spain, South Africa, Brazil, China, and Venezuela, utilized "the pilot maker" as their basic trainer well into the 1980's. Today, over 600 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 function. [History by James A. Jensen]
Nicknames: Pilot Maker; J-Bird (SNJ); Old Growler (USA); Window Breaker (UK); Mosquito (Korean war USAF LT-6G Forward Air Control aircraft)
Engine: One 600-hp Pratt & Whitney
R-1340-AN-1 radial piston engine
Weight: Empty 4,143 Max Takeoff 5,300 lbs.
Wing Span: 42ft. 0.25in.
Length: 29ft. 6in.
Height: 11ft. 9in.
Maximum Speed: 205 mph
Ceiling: 21,500 ft.
Range: 750 miles
Armament: Two 30-caliber machine guns, one flexible in the rear compartment with 500 rounds per gun (rpg), one fixed in the cowling and one fixed in the right wing, both with 200 rpg. The aircraft could also carry ten 20-pound or four 100-pound bombs under the wings.