The North American Aviation T-6 Texan was a single-engine advanced trainer aircraft used to train 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 and into the 1950s. Designed by North American Aviation, the T-6 is known by a variety of designations depending on the modeland operating air force. The USAAC and USAAF designated it as the AT-6, the United States Navy the SNJ, and British Commonwealth air forces, the Harvard, the name it is best known by outside of the US.
The North American T-6 Texan was known as "the pilot maker" because of its important role in preparing pilots for combat. Derived from the 1935 North American NA-16 prototype, a cantilever low-wing monoplane, the Texan filled the need for a basic combat trainer during WWII and beyond. The original order of 94 AT-6 Texans differed little from subsequent versions such as the AT-6A (1,847) which revised the fuel tanks or the AT-6D (4,388) and AT-6F (956) that strengthened as well as lightened the frame with the use of light alloys.
North American's rapid production of the T-6 Texan coincided with the wartime expansion of the United States air war commitment. As of 1940, the required flights hours for combat pilots earning their wings had been cut to just 200 during a shortened training period of seven months. Of those hours, 75 were logged in the AT-6. U.S. Navy pilots flew the airplane extensively, under the SNJ designation, the most common of these being the SNJ-4, SNJ-5 and SNJ-6.
After World War II, they served during the Korean War in the rear as trainers and in combat on the frontlines as forward air control aircraft (FAC). These forward air control aircraft were designated T-6 ‘Mosquitos.’ During Vietnam a limited number of T-6s were used as forward air control aircraft and a number of armed T-6Gs were flown in Laos and Cambodia against Viet Cong targets along the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Many countries, including Brazil, China and Venezuela used them as trainers and some nations even flew them as counter-insurgency aircraft well into the 1970s. During its production life, over 15,000 of the T-6 / SNJ / Harvard planes were built. Today, approximately 500 remain airworthy in civilian hands around the world and are popular war bird aircraft used for airshow demonstrations and static displays.
This AT-6F / SNJ-6 serves as a tribute to the millions of men and women who have served and are currently serving in the United States Military, and pays homage to the dedication, sacrifice and contributions of those who helped pioneer the skies.
The AT-6/SNJ-6 on display was built April 15, 1945 and delivered to the Navy June 23, 1945. It was sold for civilian use in 1960. It has been restored to original condition as initially delivered. While it does have an original type radio a modern radio was added for present day communication.