In the post-World War 2 world, North American Aviation drew up plans for a successor to its line of capable T-6 "Texan" twin-seat, single-engine basic trainers. The T-6, born in 1935, was built in nearly 15,500 examples and went on to serve a myriad of operators globally. The last of the lot was not retired until 1995 by the South African Air Force - such was its value. It was against this storied history that a new design was to emerge to take the place of one of America's most successful military trainer aircraft.
Immediately after the war, North American developed the "XSN2J-1" (company designation of "NA-142"), a prototype trainer platform which flew for the first time on February 10th, 1947. Two were built and intended for series use by the United States Navy. The twin-seat, single-engine design was powered by a Wright R-1820-78 "Cyclone" air-cooled radial piston engine of 1,100 horsepower driving a three-bladed propeller unit at the nose and was more or less of conventional design for the time.
The type was to be sued in the "scout-trainer" role and succeed an aging line of SNJ Texans then in service. However, the project was derailed by budgetary issues and cancelled outright in 1948.
From this existing framework, the beginnings of the T-28 "Trojan" were formed. North American developed the "XT-28" (company designation of "NA-159") and flew the monoplane on September 24th, 1949 for the first time, proving the new modified design sound. Two prototypes were completed and examples were delivered to Elgin Air Force Base during the middle of 1950 to be flight-tested under operational conditions by the 3020th Fighter Test Squadron. After this period, the design was formally approved and serial production ordered.
The aircraft continued North American's excellence in delivering capable military-level trainers. The design was of traditional arrangement, seating the engine in a tightly-fitted cowling ahead of the crew compartment. The cockpit involved a crew of two - student and instructor - seated in tandem under a lightly-framed canopy. The fuselage was well-rounded and streamlined, tapering at the tail at which point a single-finned, low-mounted horizontal plane arrangement was featured. The mainplanes were low-mounted along the fuselage sides, of straight design, and featuring clipped tips. A tricycle undercarriage, fully retractable, finished off the aircraft's list of physical qualities.
Adopted into service by the United States Air Force (USAF) in 1949, the newly-minted "T-28" was also taken into service by the United States Navy (USN), United States Marine Corps (USMC), United States Coast Guard (USCG), and (to a limited extend) the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in time.
Operators of the T-28 ultimately ranged from Argentina and Bolivia to Uruguay and Zaire. Beyond their given training roles, the series was also pressed into service as a ground-attack platform, primarily during the Vietnam War (1955-1975) by most of the major players there. The French used a stock in the Close-Air Support (CAS) role during actions over Algeria. The T-28 also in played a role with government forces of the Philippines during the rebel-led 1989 coup attempt.
Initial operational versions were the "T-28A", these going to the USAF and powered by the Wright R-1300-7 engine (driving a two-bladed propeller unit) with 1,194 examples built to the standard. The "T-28B" followed as a US Navy-centric variant carrying a Wright R-1820-86A/86B engine of 1,425 horsepower with included changes being a ventral air brake and three-bladed propeller unit. Total production reached 489 examples for the service. The T-28C became another USN version, this given an arrestor hook as well as reduced-length propeller blades.
The T-28D "Nomad" were USN T-28B models converted for the COunter-INsurgency (COIN) role for the USAF during the Vietnam War. Various engine fits became available and broader support for air-to-ground weapons was instituted. Some 321 were converted to this standard by Pac-Aero. Another CAS attack-minded for became the "AT-28D" produced by Fairchild, again for service in Vietnam. Six underwing hardpoints were added as well as an ejection seat. Total conversions amounted to seventy-two airframes.
North American converted the T-28D into a COIN model by way of the "YAT-28E" prototype. This entry included a Lycoming YT-55L-9 turboprop engine, twelve underwing hardpoints, and 2 x 12.7mm Heavy Machine Guns (HMGs) in fixed, forward-firing mounts as standard features. Three prototypes were built to the standard with a first flight recorded in February of 1963. However, the model was not adopted and work on the design ended in 1965.
The French Air Force took on a stock of ex-USAF T-28A models as the T-28S/T-28F "Fennec". These were modified in 1959 with cockpit armoring, power-assisted canopy, four underwing hardpoints (for gun pods, rockets, and bombs), and a Wright R-1820-97 supercharged engine of 1,200 horsepower for their new owners and flown as COIN platforms into 1962. These were then later sold off to the Argentine Navy for carrier service as the "T-28P".
The T-28R "Nomair" was a modified, reduced-performance version for civilian flying. The design emerged from a stock of expiring T-28A models from the USAF and carried Wright "Cyclone" R-1820-80 engines and wider wingspans to achieve certification - which was granted in February of 1962.
Its militarized training form was built as the T-28R1 "Nomair I" and featured seating for two in tandem as well as redudant control schemes at both cockpit placements for student and instructor. The Brazilian Navy took on a stock of six aircraft in 1962 and, as such, had to have arrestor hooks installed for shipborne work. These later fell to the Brazilian Air Force before their time in the air ended.
The T-28R-2 "Nomair II" was an interesting conversion model for civilian market use - the fuselage was reworked to a five seat cabin. At least ten airframes were completed.
The "RT-28" became a photo-reconnaissance conversion model for COIN work by the Royal Lao Air Force during the Vietnam War. One T-28 example of the service is known to have defected to North Vietnam and was reused by its new host country - becoming the first fighter of the North Vietnamese Air Force inventory. During the conflict, the Republic of Vietnam Air Force also operated the series as a CAS platform while the USAF claimed a loss of twenty-three T-28s of their own in the war.
Total T-28 production reached 1,948 units and the line was eventually superseded by the turbo-prop powered Beechcraft T-34 "Mentor" in same role (this aircraft detailed elsewhere on this site). These were introduced in 1953 and produced through over 2,300 examples.
The T-28 also went on to form the basis for the Taiwanese "T-CH-1" by AIDC detailed elsewhere on this site. Fifty-two of these were built for the Republic of China Air Force for the trainer role after a first-flight in November of 1973.
Argentina; Bolivia; Brazil; Republic of the Congo; Cuba; Dominican Republic; Ecuador; Ethiopia; France; Honduras; Japan; Laos; Mexico; Morocco; Nicaragua; Philippines; South Korea; Saudi Arabia; South Vietnam; Tunisia; Taiwan; Thailand; United States; Uruguay; Vietnam; Zaire
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
✓Ground Attack (Bombing, Strafing)
Ability to conduct aerial bombing of ground targets by way of (but not limited to) guns, bombs, missiles, rockets, and the like.
✓Close-Air Support (CAS)
Developed to operate in close proximity to active ground elements by way of a broad array of air-to-ground ordnance and munitions options.
✓Maritime / Navy
Land-based or shipborne capability for operating over-water in various maritime-related roles while supported by allied naval surface elements.
Used in roles serving the commercial aviation market, ferrying both passengers and goods over range.
✓Intelligence-Surveillance-Reconnaissance (ISR), Scout
Surveil ground targets / target areas to assess environmental threat levels, enemy strength, or enemy movement.
✓X-Plane (Developmental, Prototype, Technology Demonstrator)
Aircraft developed for the role of prototyping, technology demonstration, or research / data collection.
Developed ability to be used as a dedicated trainer for student pilots (typically under the supervision of an instructor).
33.0 ft (10.06 m)
40.1 ft (12.22 m)
12.7 ft (3.86 m)
6,424 lb (2,914 kg)
8,501 lb (3,856 kg)
+2,077 lb (+942 kg)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the North American T-28D Trojan production variant)
1 x Wright R-1820-86 "Cyclone" air-cooled radial piston engine developing 1,425 horsepower driving two- or three-bladed propeller unit at the nose.
The "Military Factory" name and MilitaryFactory.com logo are registered ® U.S. trademarks protected by all applicable domestic and international intellectual property laws. All written content, illustrations, and photography are unique to this website (unless where indicated) and not for reuse/reproduction in any form. Material presented throughout this website is for historical and entertainment value only and should not to be construed as usable for hardware restoration, maintenance, or general operation. We do not sell any of the items showcased on this site. Please direct all other inquiries to militaryfactory AT gmail.com.
Part of a network of sites that includes GlobalFirepower, a data-driven property used in ranking the top military powers of the world, WDMMA.org, the World Directory of Modern Military Aircraft, and SR71blackbird.org, detailing the history of the world's most iconic spyplane.