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North American T-6 Texan

The North American Aviation T-6 Texan is an American single-engine advanced trainer aircraft used to train pilots of the United States Army Air Forces, United States Navy, Royal Air Force, Royal Canadian Air Force and other air forces of the British Commonwealth during World War II and into the 1970s.

The United States Army Air Corps and USAAF designated it as the AT-6, the United States Navy the SNJ, and British Commonwealth air forces the Harvard, the name by which it is best known outside the US.

Starting in 1948, the new United States Air Force (USAF) designated it the T-6, with the USN following in 1962.

The Texan’s ancestry goes back to the North American NA-16 prototype which was first flown on April 1, 1935.

In 1935, NAA submitted this design for the U.S. Army Air Corps Basic Trainer Competition.

NAA also targeted the export market.

Modified as the NA-26, it 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 550 hp (410 kW) Pratt & Whitney R-1340 Wasp and could accommodate two .30 in (7.62 mm) guns.

With minor alterations, 177 unarmed NA-36s would enter service as the BC-1 with a R-1340-47 engine from 9 June 1937.

Roughly 30 were modified as BC-1-I instrument trainers.

The BC-1A (NA-55-1) followed as an armed version, primarily for Air Corps Reserve and National Guard units, and the 83 built could be equipped with a .30 in (7.62 mm) machine gun on the nose, and a flexible gun in the rear cockpit.

The US Navy received 40 NA-28 aircraft based on the BT-9, which it designated the NJ-1, as well as 16 NA-52s, designated the SNJ-1, 36 NA-65 as SNJ-2s, and 25 NA-79 also as SNJ-2s.

In March 1937, the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation of Australia purchased an NA-32 (NA-16-1A, with fixed undercarriage) and an NA-33 (NA-16-2K with retractable undercarriage) along with a manufacturing license.

The first CAC Wirraway, based on the NA-33, flew on 27 March 1939, of which 755 were built.

In August 1937, Mitsubishi Jukogyo K.K. purchased a single NA-16, NA-16-4R (NA-37), powered by the 450 hp (340 kW) Pratt & Whitney R-985-9CG, including manufacturing rights.

A second N-16, NA-16-4RW (NA-47), powered by a smaller Wright engine, was ordered in December 1937.

After being evaluated by the Imperial Japanese Navy, Kyusu and K.K. Watanabe Tekkosho chose to ignore the NAA design almost entirely and built 176 of the somewhat similar K10W1 from 1941 to 1942 which the Allies gave the code name Oak.

After WWII, the Japanese Air Self Defence Force operated 195 Texans (9 T-6Ds, 11 T-6Fs, and 175 T-6Gs) and the Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force operated 62 (10 SNJ-4s, 41 SNJ-5s, and 11 SNJ-6s).

According to Dan Hagedorn, “the BC-1A series may be regarded as the true beginning of the modern AT-6 series.”

In December 1938, the British Commonwealth started receiving the first of 400 Harvard Mark Is (NA-49), for use in the Central Flying School.

They were powered by the 600 hp (450 kW) Pratt & Whitney R-1340-S3H1 Wasp.

In May 1939, the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) ordered 30 Harvard Mark Is (NA-61).

Then in November 1939, the British Purchasing Commission ordered the first of eventually 1275 Harvard Mark IIs (NA-66, NA-75, NA-76, and NA-81) for the Royal Air Force and RCAF.

On 23 April 1939, NAA received a contract for 251 BT-14s and 94 AT-6s.

The BT-14 (NA-58) was a fixed gear aircraft with a metal skinned fuselage 14 inches longer than the BT-9.

In 1941, 27 BT-14s were refitted with the 400 hp (300 kW) R-985-11 and designated as BT-14A-NAs.

In June 1939, NAA received an order for 94 AT-6-NAs (NA-59), powered by the wright R-1340-47 and able to mount two .30 in (7.62 mm) machines guns.

The USAAC AT-6A, and the U.S. Navy SNJ-3, were based on the NA-77 and NA-78 designs. Pratt & Whitney R-1340-49 Wasp radial engine powered the USAAC aircraft, while R-1340-38s powered the Navy aircraft.

The USAAC received 1847 AT-6As, and the Navy received 270 SNJ-3s.

The AT-6B (NA-84) was built for armament training and could mount a .30 in (7.62 mm) machine gun on the right nose cowl, right wing, and in the rear cockpit, and could carry a light bomb rack.

The aircraft was powered by the 600 hp (450 kW) R-1340-AN-1 engine.

The USAAC received 400.

The NA-88 design was used to build 2970 AT-6Cs (747 of which went to the British Commonwealth as Harvard IIas), 2401 SNJ-4s, 2604 AT-6Ds (537 of which went to the British Commonwealth as Harvard IIIs), and 1357 SNJ-5s.

The first AT-6C aircraft was delivered on 12 February 1942.

The 12-volt electrical system was changed to a 24-volt system in the AT-6D, for standardization amongst the service.

The AT-6D, which was also armament capable, and early versions included a wing gun camera, and a high-pressure oxygen system.

The AT-6D used two toggle starter switches, rather than the foot pedal starter, and the first AT-6D was delivered on 22 July 1943.

The Navy received an additional 630 AT-6Ds direct from the USAAF, redesignating them SNJ-5s, for a total of 1987.

Similarly, the NA-121 design was used to build the final wartime Texans and included 800 AT-6Ds (of which 211 went to the Navy as SNJ-5s), and 956 AT-6Fs (of which 411 went to the Navy as SNJ-6s).

They were capable of carrying a 20 US gal (76 l; 17 imp gal) centreline drop tank.

From 1942, Canada’s Noorduyn built 2557 R-1340-AN-1-powered Harvard IIs under license, paid for by USAAF Lend-Lease funds as the AT-16, but designated as the Harvard II.B.

After WWII, many remained in service with the RCAF.

The NA-168 series consisted of remanufactured AT-6s and SNJs for the USAF, starting in 1949.

The Air Training Command received 641 aircraft, designated T-6G-NT, of which 416 eventually were sent to U.S. Military Assistance Program countries. 

U.S. National Guard units received an additional 50 aircraft, of which 28 eventually were sent to France.

An additional 59 aircraft were Liaison/Trainer aircraft, designated LT-6G-NA, for the Korean War.

These aircraft could be deployed with 2 detachable .30 in (7.62 mm) machine gun pods, and 4 HVARs, or 4 100 lb (45 kg) bombs, plus a 55 US gal (210 l; 46 imp gal) auxiliary drop tank.

Alternatively, they could carry the gun pods and 12 2.25 in (57 mm) SCA markings rockets, or 6 100 lb (45 kg) bombs.

The T-6G-NAs had a 140 US gal (530 l; 120 imp gal) fuel capacity, while previous models had a 110 US gal (420 l; 92 imp gal) capacity.

The rear cockpit also had the same instruments as the front cockpit.

Then, in 1951, the USAF placed an order for 824 T-6Gs, designated T-6G-1-NH, for the Air Training Command.

The Canada Car and Foundry built 285 Harvard 4s, designated NA-186 under the Mutual Defence Assistance Program (MDAP) and an additional 270 directly for the RCAF.

In April 1951, the USAF ordered an additional 107 T-6Gs for the MDAP, designated NA-188.

They placed an order for 11 training aircraft in March 1952, designated NA-195, and then a final batch of 110 aircraft in June for MDAP, designated NA-197.


BT Series


Basic Trainer with 400hp Wright R-975-7 Whirlwind and new canopy.

Dangerous stall resulted in a variety of unsuccessful fixes, 42 built.


Armed BT-9 with one cowl gun and one rear flexible gun, and modified canopy, 40 built.


Minor changes from BT-9, unarmed, 117 built.

1 modified as sole BT-9D which was modified as a prototype for BT-14 with new outer wing panels and other alterations.


Wright R-975-7, similar to the BT-9A with minor changes, 66 built


One prototype only, intermediate step in development of the BT-14.


600hp Pratt & Whitney R-1340-41.

First aircraft of batch of BT-9C completed as Y1BT-10.


Production version of Y1BT-10 – cancelled


Lengthened all metal fuselage and new canopy, Pratt & Whitney R-985-25, 251 built.


27 BT-14s were re-engine with 400 hp (298 kW) Pratt & Whitney R-985-11.

BC Series

North American BC-1

Basic Combat trainer version initial production version with 600hp R-1340-47 engine, Early examples had round rudder, later examples had square bottom rudder, 177 built


New longer semi-monocoque fuselage, new outer wing panels angled forward slightly, squared-off wingtips and triangular rudder, 93 built.

Identifiable from later types by blister fairing between undercarriages.


One BC-1A fitted with an AT-6A wing centre section.


BC-1s converted to instrument trainers, 30 modified


Similar to BC-1A and AT-6, modified from NA-36 with details from NA-44, 3 bladed propellers.

AT Series (Texan)

AT-6 Texan

Advanced Trainer – same as BC-1A with minor changes, powered by a 600hp R-1340-47 and armed with forward-firing 0.3in machine gun, nine original started as BC-1As and 85 built.


Same as AT-6 but with 600hp R-1340-49 and removable wing centre section fuel tanks, 1847 built with 298 transferred to the United States Navy as the SNJ-3.

Survivors re-designated T-6A in 1948.


Same as AT-6A but with 600hp R-1340-AN-1 and dorsal gun fitted as standard, 400 built.


Same as AT-6B but with material changes to low-alloy steel and plywood, 2970 built including transfers to the United Kingdom as the Harvard IIA.


Same as AT-6B but with a 24V DC electrical system, 4388 built including transfers to the United States Navy as the SNJ-5 and to the United Kingdom as the Harvard III.

Redesignated T-6D in 1948.


One AT-6D re-engine with a 575hp V-770-9 V-12 inline engine for trials.


Same as AT-6D but with a strengthened airframe and minor modifications, 956 built including transfers to the United States Navy as the SNJ-6, Redesignated T-6F in 1948.

Clear fixed rear canopy.

Some went to Russia via Lend-Lease.


Noorduyn built lend-lease Harvards, 1800 built

North American A-27

Two-seat attack version of AT-6 with a 785hp R-1820-75 engine and five 0.3in machine guns (two in nose, one on each wing and one dorsal).

Designation used for ten aircraft for Thailand impressed into United States Army Air Corps use.

T-6 (Texan)


AT-6As re-designated in 1948.


AT-6Cs re-designated in 1948 including 68 re-builds with new serial numbers.


AT-6D re-designated in 1948 including 35 re-builds with new serial numbers.


AT-6F re-designated in 1948.


Earlier model AT-6/T-6s re-built between 1949-1953 with improved cockpit layout, increased fuel capacity, steerable tail wheel, updated radios and a 600hp R-1340-AN-1 engine.

Identifiable by simplified canopy framing, 2068 modified.


T-6Gs converted for battlefield surveillance and forward air controller duties, 97 modified.

Nicknamed Mosquito.


T-6Fs converted T-6G standard.


A single T-6F damaged in a crash during the Korean War that was rebuilt as a floatplane by the Republic of Korea Navy.

Bacon Super T-6

A single AT-6F converted in 1956 with tricycle gear, bubble canopy and tip tanks; no production followed.

NJ/SNJ Texan


United States Navy specification advanced trainer powered with 550hp Pratt & Whitney R-1340-6.

Some re-engined with later versions of R-1340.

Similar to BT-9, 40 built.

The SNJ-3C/-4C/-5C versions had an arrester hook for carrier landings.


Similar to Harvard I but with BC-1 wing centre section, metal-covered fuselage and late T-6 type wing, 16 built.


Same as SNJ-1 but with a R-1340-56 engine and changes to carburettor and oil cooler scoops, 61 built.


Same as AT-6A, 270 built and 296 transferred from USAAC.


SNJ-3 converted as deck landing trainers with tail hook arrester gear, twelve modified.


Same as AT-6C, 1240 built.


SNJ-4s converted as deck landing trainers with tail hook arrester gear.


AT-6Ds transferred from the USAAC, 1573 aircraft.


SNJ-5s converted as deck landing trainers with tail hook arrester gear.


AT-6Fs transferred from the USAAF, 411 aircraft.


Early models modified to T-6G standards in 1952.


An armed variant of the SNJ-7.


Order for 240 cancelled.


Harvard I

Similar to BC-1 but without rear gun and with a 600hp R-1340-S3H1 engine, 400 aircraft.

Harvard II

Similar to BC-1A, 526 built, again without provision for rear gunner.

Harvard IIA

(RAF & Commonwealth)

AT-6C, many with wooden rear fuselages when first delivered.

Harvard IIA


‘Armed’ Harvard II – Any RCAF Harvard II or IIB fitted with wing guns, rockets or bombs.

Harvard IIB

Noorduyn built Mk.IIs, some to US orders as AT-16s for lend-lease.

Transfers back from the USAAF (1800) and 757 built.

Harvard T.T. IIB

Target Tug – 42 aircraft built for the RAF by Noorduyn.

Number probably included in II totals.

Harvard IIF

Bombing/gunnery trainer

One-off modified from Mk.II with bomb aimer’s blister and AT-6 type cockpit.

Harvard III

AT-6D, 537 aircraft for RAF.

Harvard 4

Canadian development of Harvard II paralleling the T-6G, and built by Canadian Car & Foundry, 270 for the RCAF and 285 for USAF.

Some publications refer to these as T-6J however the aircraft record cards do not use this designation.

Harvard 4K

Belgian designation for Harvard IIs and IIIs upgraded to roughly Harvard 4 specifications.

Harvard 4KA

Belgian designation for armed variant of 4K.





29 ft (8.8 m)


42 ft (13 m)


11 ft 8 in (3.56 m)

Wing area

253.7 sq ft (23.57 m2)

Empty weight

4,158 lb (1,886 kg)

Gross weight

5,617 lb (2,548 kg)


1 × Pratt & Whitney R-1340-AN-1 Wasp radial engine,

600 hp (450 kW)


Maximum speed

208 mph (335 km/h, 181 kn) at 5000 ft (1,500 m)

Cruise speed

145 mph (233 km/h, 126 kn)


730 mi (1,170 km, 630 nmi)

Service ceiling

24,200 ft (7,400 m)

Rate of climb

1,200 ft/min (6.1 m/s)

Wing loading

22.2 lb/sq ft (108 kg/m2)


0.11 hp/lb (kW/kg)


Provision for up to 3 × 0.30 in (7.62 mm) machine guns



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