North American AT-6 “Texan”
Single-engine two-seat low-wing advanced trainer monoplane
Archive Photos ¹
North American AT-6 Texan (s/n unknown) on display (7/20/2006) at the Beijing Aviation Museum, Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Beijing, People's Republic of China (Photo by John Shupek copyright © 2006 Skytamer Images)
- Role: Trainer aircraft
- Manufacturer: North American Aviation
- First flight: 1 April 1935
- Primary users: United States Army Air Forces, United States Navy, Royal Air Force
- Number built: 15,495
- Developed from: North American BC-1
- Variants: CAC Wirraway, North American A-27
The North American AT-6 Texan was a single-engine advanced trainer aircraft used to train fighter pilots of the United States Army Air Forces, United States Navy, Royal Air Force and other air forces of the British Commonwealth during World War II. The North American AT-6 Texan was first produced in 1939 and was similar to and eventually replaced the North American BC-1A basic combat trainer when the Basic Combat classification was abandoned. The USAAC designated it as the "AT-6", the US Navy the "SNJ", and British Commonwealth air forces, the "Harvard", the name it is best known by outside of the United States. The North American AT-6 Texan is known by a variety of designations depending on the model and operating air force. These may be summarized as follows:
North American AT-6 (Harvard II) ²
- Pratt & Whitney R-1340-47 engine.
- Integral fuel tanks in center-section.
North American AT-6A (SNJ-3) ²
- Pratt & Whitney R-1340-49 engine.
- Removable aluminum fuel tanks.
- The North American AT-6A built in Canada under license by Noorduyn Aviation, Ltd. was the Harvard IIB.
- Canadian-built Harvard's were also delivered to the U.S. Army and because of manufacturing and equipment differences these were given the designation AT-16.
North American AT-6B ²
- Pratt & Whitney R-1340-AN1 engine.
North American AT-6C (SNJ-4 and Harvard IIA)
- Pratt & Whitney R-1340-AN 1 engine.
- In 1941 owing to possible shortages in strategic materials, the structure of the AT-6C was re-designed to eliminate the use of aluminum-alloy and high-alloy steels.
- The wings center-section, fin, rudder, elevators, ailerons, flaps, etc. were made of spot-welded low-alloy steel, and the side panels of the forward fuselage, the entire rear fuselage tailplane, floor boards, etc. were of plywood. A saving of 1,246 lbs. (566 kg.) of aluminum-alloy per aircraft was achieved. The fear of material shortages having been found to be groundless, the standard structure was later reverted to.
North American AT-6D (SNJ-5 and Harvard III)
- Pratt & Whitney R-1340-AN1 engine.
- Standard structure as described below.
- 24-volt electrical system.
- No photographic equipment.
- The British Harvard versions of the AT-6 carried no armament and were fitted with British instruments, radio, shoulder harness, etc.
Design and Development ²
The Texan originated from the North American NA-16 prototype (first flown on April 1, 1935) which, modified as the NA-26, was submitted as an entry for a USAAC "Basic Combat" aircraft competition in March, 1937. The first model went in to production and 180 were supplied to the USAAC as the BC-1 and 400 to the RAF as the Harvard I. The US Navy received 16 modified aircraft, designated the SNJ-1, and a further 61 as the SNJ-2 with a different engine.
A further 92 BC-1A and three BC-2 aircraft were built before the shift to the "advanced trainer" designation, AT-6, which was equivalent to the BC-1A. The differences between the AT-6 and the BC-1 were new outer wing panels with a swept forward trailing edge, squared-off wingtips and a triangular rudder, producing the definitive Texan appearance. After a change to the rear of the canopy, the AT-6 was designated the Harvard II for RAF/RCAF orders and 1,173 were supplied by purchase or Lend Lease, mostly operating in Canada as part of the Empire Air Training Scheme.
Next came the AT-6A which was based on the NA-77 design and was powered by the Pratt & Whitney R-1340-49 Wasp radial engine. The USAAF received 1,549 and the US Navy 270 (as the SNJ-3). The AT-6B was built for gunnery training and could mount a .30 in machine gun on the forward fuselage. It utilized the R-1340-AN-1 engine which was to become the standard for the remaining T-6 production. Canada's Noorduyn Aviation built a R-1340-AN-1 powered version of the AT-6A which was supplied to the USAAF as the AT-16 (1,500 aircraft) and the RAF/RCAF as the Harvard IIB (2,485 aircraft), some of which also served with the Fleet Air Arm and Royal Canadian Navy.
In late 1937 Mitsubishi purchased two NA-16's as technology demonstrators and possibly a licence to build more. However the aircraft developed by Watanabe/Kyushu as the K10W1 (Allied code name Oak) bore no more than a superficial resemblance to the North American design. It featured a full monocoque fuselage as opposed to the steel tube fuselage of the T-6 and NA-16 family of aircraft, as well as being of smaller dimensions overall and had no design details in common with the T-6. It was used in very small numbers by the Imperial Japanese Navy from 1942 onwards. The IJA did not operate any, as they had other aircraft that they used for training. After the war the Japanese Air Self Defense Force operated Texans.
The NA-88 design resulted in 2,970 AT-6C Texans and 2,400 as the SNJ-4. The RAF received 726 of the AT-6C as the Harvard IIA. Modifications to the electrical system produced the AT-6D (3,713 produced) and SNJ-5 (1,357 produced). The AT-6D, redesignated the Harvard III, was supplied to the RAF (351 aircraft) and Fleet Air Arm (564 aircraft). Subsequently the NA-121 design with a completely clear rearmost section on the canopy, gave rise to 25 AT-6F Texans for the USAAF and 931, as the SNJ-6 for the US Navy. The ultimate version, the Harvard 4, was produced by Canada Car and Foundry during the 1950s, and supplied to the RCAF, USAF and Bundeswehr. A total of 15,495 T-6s of all variants were built.
Operational History ²
During the Korean War and to a lesser extent, the Vietnam war, T-6s were pressed into service as forward air control aircraft. These aircraft were designated T-6 Mosquitos. The RAF used the Harvard in Kenya against the Mau Mau in the 1950s where they operated with 20 lb bombs and machine guns against the gangs. Some operations took place at altitudes around 20,000 ft asl. A Harvard was the longest-serving RAF aeroplane, with an example, taken on strength in 1945, still serving in the 1990s (as a chase plane for helicopter test flights - a role the Short Tucano's high stall speed was ill-suited for). The T-6G was also used in a light attack or counter insurgency role by France during the Algerian war in special Escadrilles d'Aviation Légère d'Appui (EALA), armed with machine guns, bombs and rockets. At its peak there were 38 EALA's active. The largest unit was the Groupe d'Aviation Légère d'Appui 72, which consisted of up to 21 EALA's. From 1961 to 1975, Portugal, also, used hundreds of T-6G in the counter insurgency role during the Portuguese Colonial War. During this war, almost all the Portuguese Air Force bases and air fields in Angola, Mozambique and Portuguese Guinea had a detachment of T-6G. In 1957-58, the Spanish Air Force used T-6 as COIN aircraft in the Ifni War, armed with machine guns, iron bombs and rockets, achieving an excellent reputation due to its reliability, safety record and resistance to damage.
Since the Second World War, the T-6 has been a regular participant at air shows, and was used in many movies. For example, in Tora! Tora! Tora! and The Final Countdown, converted single-seat T-6s painted in Japanese markings represent Mitsubishi Zeroes. The New Zealand Warbirds "Roaring 40's" aerobatic team use ex-Royal New Zealand Air Force Harvard's. The Reno National Air Races also has a class specifically for the T-6 during the National Air Races each year.
North American BC Series
- BC-1 — Basic Combat trainer version initial production version with 600-hp R-1340-47 engine, 177 built
- BC-1A — Same as BC-1 but with semi-monocoque rear fuselage, squared-off wingtips and vertical tail surfaces, 93 built.
- BC-1B — One BC-1A fitted with an AT-6A wing center section.
- BC-1I — BC-1s converted to instrument trainers, 30 modified
North American AT-6 Texan Series ²
- AT-6 Texan — Same as BC-1A with minor changes, powered by a 600-hp R-1340-47 and armed with forward-firing 0.3-in machine gun, nine original started as BC-1A's and 85 built.
- AT-6A Texan — Same as AT-6 but with 600-hp R-1340-49 and removable wing center section fuel tanks, 1847 built with 298 transferred to the United States Navy as the SNJ-3. Survivors re-designated T-6A in 1948.
- AT-6B Texan — Same as AT-6A but with 600-hp R-1340-AN-1 and dorsal gun fitted as standard, 400 built.
- AT-6C Texan — 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 III.
- AT-6D Texan — 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 IIA. Redesignated T-6D in 1948.
- XAT-6E Texan — One AT-6D re-engine with a 575-hp V-770-9 engine for trials.
- AT-6F Texan — Same as AT-6D but with a strengthened airframe and minor modifications, 956 built including transfers to the United States as the SNJ-6, Redesignated T-6F in 1948.
Noorduyn AT-16 Harvard Series ²
- Noorduyn AT-16 Harvard — Noorduyn built AT-6A's for lend-lease as Harvard's, 1800 built.
T-6 Texan Series
- T-6A Texan — AT-6A's re-designated in 1948.
- T-6C Texan — AT-6C's re-designated in 1948 including 68 re-builds with new serial numbers.
- T-6D Texan — AT-6D re-designated in 1948 including 35 re-builds with new serial numbers.
- T-6F Texan — AT-6F re-designated in 1948.
- T-6G Texan — Earlier model AT-6/T-6s re-built between 1949-1953. They have improved cockpit layout, increased fuel capacity, modified landing gear with steerable tailwheel, updated radios and a 600-hp R-1340-AN-1 engine. 2068 modified.
- LTC-6G Texan — T-6G's converted for battlefield surveillance and forward air controller duties, 97 modified.
- T-6H Texan — Number of T-6F's converted T-6G standard.
- T-6J Texan — Designated used for Canadian-built Harvard Mk.IV's supplied to Belgian, France, Italy, Portugal and West Germany, 285 aircraft.
SNJ Texan Series
- SNJ-1 — United States Navy designation same as BC-1 with metal-covered rear-fuselage, 16 built.
- SNJ-2 — Same as SNJ-1 but with a R-1340-56 engine and detailed changes, 61 built.
- SNJ-3 — Same as AT-6A, 270 built and 296 transferred from USAAC.
- SNJ-3C — SNJ-3 converted as deck landing trainers with arrester gear, twelve modified.
- SNJ-4 — Same as AT-6C, 1240 built.
- SNJ-4C — SNJ-4s converted as deck landing trainers with arrester gear.
- SNJ-5 — AT-6D's transferred from the USAAC, 1573 aircraft.
- SNJ-5C — SNJ-5s converted as deck landing trainers with arrester gear.
- SNJ-6 — AT-6F's transferred from the USAAF, 411 aircraft.
- SNJ-7 — Early models modified to T-6G standards in 1952.
- SNJ-7B — An armed variant of the SNJ-7.
- SNJ-8 — Order for 240 cancelled.
- Harvard I — Similar to BC-1 but without rear gun and with a 600-hp 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 (RCAF) — "Armed" Harvard II - Any RCAF Harvard II & IIB fitted with guns (in the wing), rockets or bombs.
- Harvard IIB — Noorduyn built Mk.II's, some to US orders as AT-16's 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 aimers blister and AT-6 cockpit.
- Harvard III — AT-6D, 537 aircraft for RAF.
- Harvard 4 — 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.
- North American A-27 — Tandem two-seat attack version of the AT-6 with a 785-hp R-1820-75 engine and five O.3-in 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.
North American Designation
- NA-16 — Prototype for entire family of aircraft.
- NA-18 — NA-16 modified to USAAC requirements.
- NA-19 — BT-9 slightly modified from NA-18.
- NA-19A — BT-9A Armed version of BT-9.
- NA-20 — BT-9 Demonstrator built for China.
- NA-22 — Re-engine BT-9.
- NA-23 — BT-9B Some minor changes from BT-9, unarmed.
- NA-26 — BC-1 Basic Combat Demonstrator aircraft, First Retractable Gear Variant. Sold to RCAF.
- NA-27 — As per NA-26 but for demonstration in Europe.
- NA-28 — NJ-1 BT-9 built to USN specifications.
- NA-29 — Y1BT-10, BT-9C & BT-9D Minor improvements over earlier BT-9's
- NA-30 — Intended production version of Y1BT-10, cancelled. Similar to BT-9 but different engine.
- NA-31 — As per BT-9C but with a different engine for Sweden as a pattern aircraft for the Sk 14.
- NA-32 — Pattern aircraft for Australian Government.
- NA-33 — Pattern aircraft for Australian Government built as Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation Wirraway (755 built).
- NA-34 — Variant of BT-9 for Argentina. First major export order for NAA.
- NA-36 — The BC-1
- NA-44 — Prototype attack version, one built.
- NA-55 — The BC-1A
- NA-59 — The AT-6
- NA-69 — Attack version for Thailand, not delivered became the A-27.
- NA-72 — Attack version for Brazil, 30 built.
- NA-74 — Attack version for Chile.
- NA-88 — The AT-6D (last 800 as NA.121)
- NA-121 — The last 800 AT-6D's
- Argentina: Argentine Air Force
- Austria: Austrian Air Force
- Belgium: Belgian Air Force
- Biafra: Biafran Air Force
- Bolivia: Bolivian Air Force
- Brazil: Brazilian Air Force
- Canada: Royal Canadian Air Force, Royal Canadian Navy
- Republic of China (Taiwan): Republic of China Air Force
- Chile: Chilean Air Force
- Colombia: Colombian Air Force
- Republic of the Congo: Congolese Air Force
- Cuba: Cuban Air and Air Defense Force
- Denmark: Royal Danish Air Force
- Dominican Republic: Dominican Air Force
- El Salvador: Air Force of El Salvador
- France: French Air Force
- Gabon: Gabon Air Force
- Germany: Luftwaffe
- Greece: Hellenic Air Force
- Hong Kong: Royal Hong Kong Auxiliary Air Force
- Honduras: Honduran Air Force
- India: Royal Indian Air Force, Indian Air Force
- Iran: Iranian Air Force
- Israel: Israeli Air Force
- Italy: Aeronautica Militare
- Japan: Japan Air Self-Defense Force
- South Korea: Republic of Korea Air Force
- Laos, Kingdom of:Royal Laotian Air Force
- Mexico: Mexican Air Force
- Morocco: Royal Moroccan Air Force
- Netherlands: Royal Netherlands Air Force
- Mozambique: Mozambique Air and Air Defense Forces
- New Zealand: Royal New Zealand Air Force
- Norway: Royal Norwegian Air Force
- Pakistan: Pakistan Air Force
- Paraguay: Paraguayan Air Force, Paraguayan Naval Aviation
- Philippines: Philippine Air Force
- Portugal: Portuguese Air Force, Portuguese Navy
- South Africa: South African Air Force
- Southern Rhodesia: Southern Rhodesian Air Force
- South Vietnam: Vietnam Air Force
- Spain: Spanish Air Force
- Soviet Union: Soviet Air Forces
- Sweden: Swedish Air Force
- Switzerland: Swiss Air Force
- Thailand: Royal Thai Air Force
- Tunisia: Tunisian Air Force
- Turkey: Turkish Air Force: 196 planes of various types
- United Kingdom: Royal Air Force, Royal Navy
- United States: United States Army Air Corps/Army Air Forces, United States Air Force, United States Navy, United States Marine Corps, United States Coast Guard
- Uruguay: Uruguayan Air Force
- Venezuela: Venezuelan Air Force
- Yugoslavia: SFR Yugoslav Air Force
Specifications (BC-1A/AT-6) 4
Note: The AT-6 Texan is the same as the BC-1A with minor changes, powered by a 600-hp R-1340-47 and armed with forward-firing 0.3-in machine gun, nine original started as BC-1A's and 85 built. The following data is for the BC-1A with AT-6 updates as noted per ref. 5.
- Two-seat Advanced Training monoplane similar to Royal Air Force "Harvard."
- Low-wing cantilever monoplane, of aluminum-alloy stress-skin construction.
- Two-spar center-section, single-spar outer sections and removable wing-tips.
- Aerodynamically and statically-balanced ailerons have metal frames and fabric covering.
- Split-type trailing-edge flaps inboard from ailerons.
- Ailerons have trimming-tabs controlled from cockpits.
- Welded chrome-molybdenum steel-tube structure from fireproof bulkhead to rear cockpit, aft of rear cockpit stressed-skin aluminum-alloy monocoque.
- Forward welded structure covered by quickly-removable aluminum-alloy panels.
- Cantilever monoplane type.
- Fixed surfaces of aluminum-alloy stressed-skin construction, movable surfaces have metal frames covered with fabric.
- Elevators have trimming-tabs controlled from both cockpits.
- Rudder has tab adjustable on ground only.
- Horizontal surfaces interchangeable right and left and quickly removable.
- Retractable cantilever type, with wheels folding inwards.
- Hydraulic operation.
- Streamline wheels and hydraulic wheel-brakes.
- Steerable tail-wheel, with damper.
- One 600-hp Pratt & Whitney R-1340 AN-1 nine-cylinder radial air-cooled engine. 5
- Two-bladed two-position controllable-pitch airscrew.
- Fuel tanks, 111 US gallons capacity, (420.1 liters) in center-section.
- Oil tank and 9.5 US gallons (35.96 liters) in engine compartment.
- Hamilton-Standard constant-speed airscrew.
- Tandem cockpits with individually-operated sliding and folding enclosure.
- Adjustable seat in front cockpit, rotating and adjustable gunner's seat in Back cockpit.
- Provision for one or two, 30-cal, synchronized guns in fuselage and one flexible 30-cal. gun in rear cockpit.
- Bomb-racks may be incorporated in wing structure.
- Span: 42 ft 0.25 in (12.81 m)
- Length: 28 ft 0 in (8.53 m)
- Height (less radio mast): 11 ft 8.5 in)
- Wing area: 253.8 ft² (23.58 m²)
Weights and Loadings:
- Weight empty: 4,658 lbs (2,113 kg) 5
- Crew: 380 lbs (172.5 kg)
- Normal loaded weight: 5,155 lbs (2,338 kg) 5
- Wing loading: 20.7 lbs/ft² (101 kg/m²)
- Power loading: 9.5 lb/hp (4.31 kg/hp)
- Maximum speed at 5,000 ft (1,525 m): 206 mph (331.5 km/h)
- Cruising speed at 12,000 ft (3,660 m): 180 mph (290 km/h)
- Landing speed: 67 mph (108 km/h)
- Service ceiling: 23,000 ft (7,010 m)
- Normal range: 730 miles (1,173 km)
- Photos, John Shupek, Copyright © 2006 Skytamer Images. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
- Wikepedia, the free encyclopedia. T-6 Texan
- Wikepedia, the free encyclopedia. T-6 Variants
- Bridgman, Leonard (ed.), "The North American NA-16-3 (BC-1A)", Jane's All The World's Aircraft 1940, London: Sampson Low, Marston & Company, Ltd., 1941, pg 210c
- Avery, Norm, North American Aircraft 1934-1998, Volume 1, Santa Ana, CA: Narkiewicz//Thompson, 1998, ISBN 0-913322-05-9, pp 29
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