T-6 Texan



North American T-6 / Navy Marine Corps SNJ "Texan"

The title of AT-6 refers to this aircraft’s well deserved designation as a World War II Advanced Trainer. The T-6 was and remains an excellent pilot trainer. During takeoff, and especially landing, it can be unforgiving of any inattention or incompetence in pilot technique. Ground looping is an “occupational hazard” of flying these airplanes. The higher wing loading of 20-23 lbs/ft² compared with that of the Stearman PT-17 (8.8 lbs/ ft²) and J-3 Cub (6.8 lbs/ ft²) made the AT-6 a good transition trainer to the larger military aircraft such as the P-51 Mustang which has wing loading of 39 lbs/ ft².

During World War II, a military student might start flight training in a Primary Trainer such as Boeing Stearman PT-17 (220hp) and progress to a Basic Trainer like the BT-13 (450hp). The last phase of training would be the AT-6 (600 hp) with features such as retractable gear, flaps, and a constant speed propeller. In 1940 the syllabus required 200 hours for the cadet to receive his wings, the last 75 hours being in the AT-6. For a brief period in the late 1940s-early 1950s, the USAF started students in the T-6G. The expected time to solo was 27 hours.

Although the AT-6’s primary mission was training pilots to fly, it served in other roles. A cowling mounted .30 Cal. machine gun or wing mounted guns allowed its use for pilot gunnery training. By using a forward folding rear canopy and an aft swiveling rear seat, a .30 Cal machine gun could be mounted on the aft turtle-deck and used to train aerial gunners. Bomb racks could be mounted under the wings. During the Korean War, the LT-6G (Mosquito) was fitted with rocket launchers and used as a Forward Air Controller, spotting and marking targets for fighter/bombers and artillery. Numerous Air Forces have since used the T-6 as trainers and some as fighter/bombers.

Our example today is the Navy/Marine Corps version of the WWII AT6 called the SNJ.  The SNJ on display at Cherry Point is painted to reflect target tug towing aircraft based at NAS Guantanamo Bay Cuba. This particular aircraft was built in 1943, and is flown by Retired US Navy Capt. James T. Ostrich from Ocala, Florida.


T-6 Texas