Aviation of World War II
Texan of Air Force of Cuba, the beginning of 1950-th.
This aircraft was one of the members of a large family of North American training vehicles, launched by NA-16 (BT-9) in 1935. The AT-6 (NA-59) was built in series since 1940 and was intended for the second stage of training with elements of combat use, for which it carried weapons - one stationary machine gun under the engine hood, one more in the wing and the third one on a pivot in the rear cockpit.
AT-6 in its design was much closer to modern combat aircraft than the domestic UT-2. It had a retractable landing gear, a variable pitch propeller, a closed cockpit, and more advanced equipment.
Several modifications were produced, differing in engine options, equipment and fuselage design.
Replacing integral fuel tanks in the center section with plug-in and installing the R-1340-49 engine gave the AT-6A modification, 517 aircraft of this type were built in Inglewood before all production was transferred to Dallas, Texas (where North American opened his second plant). Built in Dallas for the US Army Air Corps, the batches consisted of 1,330 AT-6A, 400 AT-6B version air gunners, 2970 AT-6C, 3404 AT-6D and 956 AT-6F. The AT-6C modification appeared in anticipation of a possible shortage of light alloys - approximately 567 kg were saved on each aircraft due to the use of other light materials. Plywood was used in the structure of the tail section of the fuselage and for the skin of the tail unit. The AT-6D was characterized by a return to all-metal construction and a switch from 12V to 24V electrical system, and the AT-6F had a modified rear fuselage and reinforced wing.
The US Navy aircraft were designated SNJ. Modifications SNJ-1 and -2 corresponded to BC-1 except that the SNJ-2 was powered by an R-1340-56 engine. SNJ-3 was similar to AT-6A, while SNJ-4 was similar to AT-6C. This option was the main one: 2,400 copies were produced for the fleet. The designation SNJ-5 was assigned to no less than 1,573 AT-6Ds transferred from the US Air Force. Soon, the Navy also received 931 of the 956 army AT-6Fs (navy designation SNJ-6). Some SNJs were equipped with a landing hook for practicing deck landings, with the suffix "C" added to their name (for example, SNJ-4C). The name AT-16 was borne by 2,610 aircraft produced by Nordwin Aviation Ltd. (Montreal) for the RAF and the Royal Canadian Air Force. Structurally, they matched the US Air Force AT-6A. In 1948, all designations AT, BT and RT were abolished: all the names of training aircraft now began with the letter "T". So AT-6 became T-6
Throughout the war, AT-6 and SNJ were used to train thousands of pilots. Both the Air Force and the US Navy had a single training aircraft, and many Allied pilots, especially the RAF and RCAF, were trained on these aircraft. Their flight performance and controllability made them ideal for training fighter pilots, and their superb ease of handling saved many young pilots.
In total, about 17,000 Teksan aircraft of various modifications were produced.