Quick Facts

Fairchild PT-23 Cornell

WWII Trainer

Era: WWII

Part of the Air Zoo Collection
Location: Flight Innovation Center – East Wing

The Fairchild PT-23 Cornell is one of the most ambitious restoration projects taken on by the Air Zoo. Staff and volunteers invested thousands of hours and more than eight years to restore it.
The Cornell was initially designed to provide a monoplane trainer that would use an in-line Ranger engine, also produced by Fairchild. The first Cornell model produced was a PT-19. When the U.S. entered World War II, there was a great demand for more trainers, more than Fairchild could produce, so other companies built the Cornell. When a shortage of Ranger engines threatened production, the PT-23 model was introduced with a Continental W-670 radial powerplant.
Compared to the earlier biplane trainers, the Fairchild Cornell provided a more advanced type of aircraft. Speeds were higher and wing loading more closely approximated that of combat aircraft, with flight characteristics demanding more precision and care. The Cornell was inexpensive, simple to maintain, and virtually vice-less.


Design/Development
The design of the PT-23 allowed a wide track landing gear, which would help prevent ground looping so often seen in the Stearman Kaydet and N3N Yellow Peril. With the "duramold" process for molding plywood and early plastic, flight surfaces of the plane were smooth and had a seamless appearance. Some mechanics have been known to say, "Rebuilding a Fairchild center wing section is a post-graduate course in aircraft woodwork." Extensive work was done to design the trainer to behave predictably and hold up to novice pilots' abuse.


Special Features
The standard PT-23 instrument panel contained a typical array of instruments for its day: airspeed indicator, compass, clock, engine gage unit, tachometer, turn and bank indicator, and rate of climb indicator. The Air Zoo's PT-23, however, also has an artificial horizon (front only), transponder, loran (navigation radio and instrument), transceiver, circuit break panel and a battery box.