Quick Facts

North American Texan

Advanced Trainer Aircraft

Era: WWII

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


The North American Texan was considered the best of a long line of trainers that North American Aviation began building in 1935. While the development of the trainer began in 1937, the first production models appeared in 1940. Used as an advanced trainer, its U.S. military designation was AT-6 for the U.S.A.A.F. and SNJ for the Navy. The AT-6s were called Harvards by the Canadians, but were also built on license in Australia and Sweden. The Texan displayed at the Air Zoo represents a U.S. Navy training squadron stationed at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Fla. The green stripes around the wing indicate the aircraft was used for instrumental training. Texans and Harvards trained almost all American pilots and many Allied pilots during World War II. A total of more than 15,000 Texans were built, but after the war, only about 2,000 remained in service in the U.S. These were overhauled in 1949 and continued to be used as advanced trainers. The last British pilot to qualify in a Harvard finished training on March 23, 1955. In some foreign countries, the AT-6 was used as a fighter plane.


Handling Capabilities
The Texan takes off in 900 feet and lands in 700 feet. It was not really an air-to-air combat aircraft, although there is one report of a Wirraway (an Australian variant) having shot down a Japanese Zero. There are many cases of combat veterans coming home, hopping into a T-6 and killing themselves. Depending on who you talk to, it was either an easy or difficult aircraft to fly. It presented a challenge to cadet pilots and as a result, was a good trainer.
Unusual Uses
In Korea the T-6 was used for Forward Air Control and to spray insects. The latter mission gave it the nickname "Mosquitoes." In civilian life, the AT-6 is a favorite in movies. They have been altered to resemble Soviet Yak fighters, British fighters and Japanese Zeros in the movie "Tora, Tora, Tora."


Historical Impact
The Texan was one of the most flexible planes ever designed. Because of both its combat readiness and use as a heavy trainer, it could perform a variety of tasks. Almost every country in the world has used the T-6 (even U.S. enemies). There were 15,649 Texans and Harvards built, and numerous types based on its design.


The Air Zoo’s Texan

The Air Zoo's SNJ was in French Morocco from April 6, 1953 to December 11, 1954. It was sold to Queen City Salvage in Charlotte, North Carolina on December 18, 1958 for $385.11. The average cost of one in 1944 was $22,952.

Virtual Cockpit