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North American T-6 Texan

Two-Seat Advanced Trainer Aircraft


The Texan series saw production numbers surpass nearly 16,000 by the end of its run.

Detailing the development and operational history of the North American T-6 Texan Two-Seat Advanced Trainer Aircraft.  Entry last updated on 5/15/2018. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©
The T-6 Texan was and is a world famous single-engine aircraft primarily known for its use as a trainer. A product of the North American Aviation Company, the T-6 Texan appeared during the years spanning World War 2, survived the Korean conflict, served for a time during the Vietnam War and is still in some operational service to this day. The sheer longevity of the system have made her a popular aircraft at air displays and with airplane aficionados the world over. First flight was attained on April 1st, 1935.

The T-6 Texan first appeared as the NA-16 in prototype form. The NA-16 was a conventional low-wing monoplane system of all metal design and open cockpits. The undercarriage was fixed and power was a single Wright-brand R-975 series radial piston engine of 400 horsepower. With a few modifications including a glazed cockpit canopy, the aircraft (designated by North American as the NA-18) was accepted by the United States Army Air Corps (USAAC - the forerunner to the modern day Air Force) into their "Basic Combat" aircraft competition with the T-6 was now designated by North American as the NA-26, a further developed version of the modified core aircraft now sporting a more powerful Pratt & Whitney R-1340 radial piston engine of 600 horsepower, updated cockpit equipment and retractable landing gear (including the tail wheel). The type went into production as the AT-6 Texan (though for a time known as the BC-1) and SNJ. The aircraft was also received by several export customers including the RAF and Commonwealth allies (as the "Harvard I") and Canada (as the "Yale").

Throughout her production life, the AT-6 differed in roles, powerplants and on basic internal improvements as needed. For instance, the AT-6C and D models were known to have a completely redesign internal structure to compensate for the need specialized metals elsewhere in the American war effort. Role-specific models included a gunnery trainer platform and a multi-role performer. The T-6G appeared in a post-war form and featured an all new powerplant, revised cockpit layout and positional tail wheel for improved ground-handling characteristics.

North American T-6 Texan (Cont'd)

Two-Seat Advanced Trainer Aircraft

North American T-6 Texan (Cont'd)

Two-Seat Advanced Trainer Aircraft

In her basic design, the AT-6 sported a two-seat glazed canopy cockpit with student and instructor seated in tandem. The engine was mounted at extreme forward of the design with the cantilever wings low-mounted just under the forward area of the cockpit. The empennage ended in a single vertical tail surface. The view forward was acceptable but not wholly ideal though the all-around vision was more than adequate. As a design primarily utilized for training, the aircraft was more than up to the task, providing operational speeds of over 200 miles per hour and a ceiling of over 20,000 feet with a 750 mile range.

During World War 2, the AT-6 was used extensively by military branches around the world as a primary fighter trainer training thousands of pilots in the nuances of fighter tactics and general flight. Armament was optional, as flight training was the primary focus, but could consist of two forward-fixed 7.62mm machine guns. The Texan survived to take part in the Korean and Vietnam conflicts - revised and in specialized forms - serving as Forward Air Control (FAC) systems supporting land forces in action.

The T-6 still maintains an aerial profile to some extent in today's skies as a fixture of collectors, warbird enthusiasts and air shows alike. Her resilient construction, favorable flight characteristics and fabled history have ensured her future success for the time being. Many an Allied pilot in the Second World War can attribute their education in flight to the development of this fine machine.


YEAR: 1936
STATUS: Retired, Out-of-Service
MANUFACTURER(S): North American Aviation - USA
LENGTH: 29.00 ft (8.84 m)
WIDTH: 41.99 ft (12.8 m)
HEIGHT: 11.68 ft (3.56 m)
EMPTY WEIGHT: 3,900 lb (1,769 kg)
MTOW: 5,699 lb (2,585 kg)
POWER: 1 x Pratt & Whitney R-1340-49 radial piston engine developing 600 horsepower.
SPEED: 209 mph (337 kph; 182 kts)
CEILING: 24,199 feet (7,376 m; 4.58 miles)
RANGE: 750 miles (1,207 km; 652 nm)
OPERATORS: Argentina; Australia; Belgium; Baifra; Bolivia; Brazil; Canada; China; Chile; Columbia; Republic of the Congo; Cuba; Denmark; Dominican Republic; El Salvador; Gabon; Germany; Honduras; France; Israel; India; Kingdom of Italy; Japan; Katanga; Morocco; Mexico; Netherlands; Mozambique; Norway; Portugal; Paraguay; South Africa; Soviet Union; Sweden; Tunisia; Uruguay; Venezuela; Zaire; Yugoslavia; United Kingdom; New Zealand; United States

1 OR 2 x 7.62mm machine fixed machine gun(s).
Graphical image of an aircraft medium machine gun
Variants / Models

• NA-16 - Prototype Model Designation by North American; open two-seat cockpit; fixed undercarriage.
• NA-18 - North American Designation for modified prototype model; enclosed glazed cockpit canopy.
• NA-26 - Secondary Model Designation featuring modifications for the "Basic Aircraft" competition of the USAAC.
• BC-1 - Initial Production Models for USAAC use of which 180 were produced.
• BC-1A - 92 produced of this model.
• BC-2 - At least three produced of this model.
• AT-6 - Redesignation to more standard "Advanced Trainer" convention by the USAAC; based on the BC-1A model; featured straightened rudder and "squared-off" wingtips.
• Harvard II - RAF model designation for the base AT-6.
• AT-6A - Based on NA-77 model design; fitted with Pratt & Whitney R-1340-49 Wasp radial piston engine.
• AT-6B - Gunnery Training Model; fitted with R-1340-AN-1 engine.
• AT-6C - Based on the NA-88 model design.
• AT-6D - Improved electrical systems.
• AT-6F - Based on the 121 model design for USAAF.
• SNJ - US Navy Designation; Six variants of this model produced for British export; based on the AT-6.
• SNJ-1 - US Navy conversion model for use on carriers; 16 produced.
• SNJ-2 - Similar to SNJ-1 but modified with a different powerplant.
• SBJ-3 - Naval equivalent to the AT-6A.
• SNJ-4 - Naval equivalent of the AT-6C.
• SNJ-5 - Naval equivalent of the AT-6D.
• SNJ-6 - Naval equivalent of the AT-6F.
• "Harvard" - Four variants of this model produced for British and Commonwealth export; based on the AT-6.
• Harvard I - Initial Royal Air Force delivery models of which 400 were produced.
• Harvard IIA - RAF equivalent of the AT-6C.
• Harvard IIB - Canadian-produced model based on the AT-16; supplied to Fleet Air Arm, the RAF and the RCAF.
• Harvard III - RAF equivalent of the AT-6D.
• Harvard 4 - RAF equivalent of the AT-6F.
• AT-16 - Canadian-produced model fitted with R-1340-AN-1 and supplied to the USAAF.
• BT-9 - Fitted with R-1340 engine generating 600 horsepower; non-retractable landing gear.
• "BT-14" - Fitted with Pratt & Whitney R-985 powerplant capable of 400hp.
• "Yale" - One variant produced for Canadian export based on the BT-14 model.
• T-6 "Mosquito" - Forward Air Control Model.

Our Data Modules allow for quick visual reference when comparing a single entry against contemporary designs. Areas covered include general ratings, speed assessments, and relative ranges based on distances between major cities.

Image of collection of graph types

Relative Maximum Speed
Hi: 300mph
Lo: 150mph
This entry's maximum listed speed (209mph).

Graph average of 225 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
Graph showcases the North American AT-6A Texan's operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Useful in showcasing the era cross-over of particular aircraft/aerospace designs.
Unit Production (15,495)
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units

  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.

Altitude Visualization
Small airplane graphic
Supported Roles
Ground Attack
Aerial Tanker
A2A=Air-to-Air; UAV=Unmanned; CAS=Close Support; ASW=Anti-Submarine; AEW=Airborne Early Warning; MEDEVAC=Medical Evac; EW=Electronic Warfare; SAR=Search-Rescue
Commitments / Honors
Military lapel ribbon for Operation Allied Force
Military lapel ribbon for the Arab-Israeli War
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Britain
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Midway
Military lapel ribbon for the Berlin Airlift
Military lapel ribbon for the Chaco War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cuban Missile Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for pioneering aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the Falklands War
Military lapel ribbon for the French-Indochina War
Military lapel ribbon for the Golden Age of Flight
Military lapel ribbon for the 1991 Gulf War
Military lapel ribbon for the Indo-Pak Wars
Military lapel ribbon for the Iran-Iraq War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon for the 1982 Lebanon War
Military lapel ribbon for the Malayan Emergency
Military lapel ribbon representing modern aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the attack on Pearl Harbor
Military lapel ribbon for the Six Day War
Military lapel ribbon for the Soviet-Afghan War
Military lapel ribbon for the Spanish Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for the Suez Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for Warsaw Pact of the Cold War-era
Military lapel ribbon for the WASP (WW2)
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2
Military lapel ribbon for the Yom Kippur War
Military lapel ribbon for experimental x-plane aircraft
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.

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