Aeroplane: North American T-6G Texan
The beginning of the 1930's became a breakthrough in the aviation technique. It was a time when fabric-covered biplanes were replaced by cantilever monoplanes of an all-metal construction. These new designs usually had retractable undercarriages, closed cockpits and large, powerful radial engines.
In 1935 the North American Aviation Inc. carried out the design of the NA-16, which begun the development of training aircraft. It was an all-metal two-seater with a low wing configuration. The production of the improved BT-9 for the USAAC and the NJ-1 for the Navy begun in 1936. In 1937 the new BC-1 and the SNJ versions with retractable undercarriage followed. After changing the designation system of the USAAC, the consecutive versions of BC-1 were given the designation AT-6 Texan. During the Second World War several derivatives (the AT-6A, the AT-6C and the AT-6F) appeared.
Already in 1937 the Texan became the object of interest for the British. Called Harvard, it was the first American aircraft bought by the RAF. Production started at the Noorduyn Works in Canada to supply RAF flying schools. During WW2, many Polish pilots were trained on Harvards in England and in Canada.
Cheap and easy in service, the AT-6 helped pilots train for a combat aircraft easier. Navigators, radio operators and gunners were also trained using the type. About 20,000 Texans were produced altogether including licence production in Canada, Australia, and Sweden.
After WW2, the Texans were gradually written off. However, the lack of a new trainer led to an unusual solution. In 1949, all the existing AT-6 aircraft were delivered back to the factory. After being disassembled, all the parts were thoroughly verified. Next, the best parts were put together as the new T-6G. In this way, about 2600 aircraft were assembled. In 1945–1954, the Texans were delivered to 50 countries. They were not only used for training, but also as armed support aircraft used in local conflicts.
The aircraft on display was produced in 1949 and served as a combat aircraft in 1954–1961 with the French Air Force in Algeria. It came to the Museum in 1993.