Quick Facts

Ryan PT-22 Recruit

Simple Primary Trainer


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

The Ryan PT-22 Recruit came from T. Claude Ryan after he severed relations with Ryan Airlines-famous for building the “Spirit of St. Louis." The Recruit's predecessors were a series of civilian "sport trainers" that the U.S. government eyed to become primary trainers in the military.
Prior to 1939, the Air Corps relied entirely on biplanes as primary trainers, but in 1940 it ordered a small number of Ryan civilian trainers and designated them as PT-16s. They were so successful that the Air Corps then ordered large numbers of improved versions, among them the PT-22. By the time production was completed in 1942, the Air Corps accepted 1,023 PT-22s. In 1942, the U.S. Army Air Forces took 25 additional trainers, originally ordered for the Netherlands.
The Recruit was the Army Air Forces' first monoplane trainer, which it used throughout World War II. The U.S. Navy also purchased the plane as the NR-1 and used it through 1944.

The PT-22 Recruit did not show many of the advances in aviation obvious to its contemporaries, other than having an all-metal body and being a monoplane. It had fixed landing gear, was an open cockpit aircraft, and it had exterior bracing of both strut and wire types.

Special Features
To "militarize" the aircraft for the U.S., the wings were swept four degrees to make the plane stall and spin faster. A Kinner 160 hp engine was installed; the wheel span was widened and spats were removed; the fuselage was widened and lengthened; a new rudder was added; and other structural changes were made. These changes made the aircraft more challenging to fly for cadets. One article about the plane called it a "flying brick."


Virtual Cockpit