When the United States Air Force (USAF) was looking for a new basic trainer, Temco Aircraft returned with their jet-powered Model 51, a straight-winged, single-engined development seating its crew of two in tandem under a large canopy. As the primary trainer stood as the stepping point between classroom instruction and advanced jet trainers for combat aircraft, the Model 51 was deliberately designed with combat fighter-like qualities including a turbojet engine (as opposed to the traditional prop seeing in basic trainer types), retractable tricycle undercarriage and ejection seats. Despite this effort, the service went with the competing Cessna T-37 "Tweet" series and this left just fifteen Model 51 aircraft, known officially as the TT "Pinto", built. After a first-flight on march 26th, 1956 and introduction occurring in 1959, the series was out of service as soon as 1961.
The TT was powered by the Continental Motors (Teledyne) YJ69-T-9 turbojet engine which was buried within the aft fuselage an aspirated by small, half-moon intakes along the sides of the fuselage. This powerplant was a license-built engine of French origin better known globally as the Turbomeca "Marbore" which powered similar aircraft types such as the Fouga Magister and Hispano HA-200. The installation produced 920lb of thrust that allowed the aircraft to reach speeds of 345 miles per hour and cruise at 250 mph. The aircraft's service ceiling reached 30,000 feet (requiring a pressurized cockpit and oxygen for the two crew) and rate-of-climb was 1,900 feet-per-minute.
From 1959 on, the TT was used by the Air Training Command of Pensacola, Florida but did not warrant pursuit as a standardized jet-powered basic trainer. This led to their rather short service lives which ended under the banner of the Naval Air Training Command of the United States Navy (USN). A 1968 initiative by American Jet Industries (AJI) attempted to revive the design with a General Electric CJ610-6 turbojet (2,850lb thrust) as the T-610 "Super Pinto" for service as a light-attack platform. Only the Philippine Air Force showed interest in the reimagined aircraft and planned for its local production. However, only a prototype of this model existed before its official end arrived.
One Pinto example is on display at the excellent National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida.