The North American AT6D was an Advanced Trainer for the United States Army Air Corp during World War II. The same basic airframe was used as an advance trainer for the Navy, known as the SNJ, and in the service of the Royal Air Force and the Royal Canadian Air Force it was known as the Harvard. Most pilots during World War II started in Primary Trainers similar to the PT17 Boeing “Stearman”. The student pilots would then progress to the Basic Trainer series such as a BT13, Consolidated “Vultee”. Bomber pilots would next transition to Multi-engine advanced trainers such as the AT10 Beechcraft “Wichita”. Fighter pilots used the North American AT6 “Texan” to complete their education. The AT6 became known as the “Pilot Maker” as a well deserved nickname. Fighter pilots improved their formation skills, aerobatics, fighter tactics and gunnery skills. Pilots would fly the AT6 from the back seat with a hood pulled over their head to learn the skills of flying the aircraft by sole reference to the instruments. The North American AT6 series of aircraft proved to be an excellent platform for the fighter pilots to learn all these skills. The Texan was also used as a gunnery trainer for the gunners on many of the bombers used during World War II. The student would sit in the back seat which was equipped with the capability to face aft. The student would slide the canopy full forward, put his 30 caliber machine gun in its mount and shoot and at targets being towed by other AT6s.
|Registration Number||Date of Manufacture|
|1942 North America AT6D “Texan”||42 feet .025 inches|
|Overall length:||Empty weight:|
|29 feet 6 inches||3893 pounds|
|Gross weight:||Fuel capacity:|
|5300 pounds||110 US Gallons|
|Oil capacity||Engine type:|
|12 US gallons||Pratt & Whitney 1340-AN-1 Radial piston engine|
|Propeller type:||Max Speed|
|Hamilton Standard 12D40 Constant Speed propellor||226 mph, 197 knots|
|Rate of Climb||Cruise Speed|
|1000 feet/minute||168 mph, 145 knots|
|Service Ceiling||Number of Crew|
|Number Built||Number Surviving|
|Approximately 16,000+ all models||850 US,|
1942 North American AT6D, N87H, serial number 41-34571 was sold as surplus during the 1950s. It was once again on the US aircraft registration as N87H in 1963 in Texas when it moved west to California until 1969 when it spent a short time in Arizona. The 1970s brought the Texan back to California and in the late 1970s and early 1980s began a restoration of the aircraft in Van Nuys, California. The aircraft was reassembled and test flown in 1981. N87H only flew about 600 hours until four friends in Illinois created Gem Flyers to purchase the Texan and bring it to Illinois in 1993. The Texan began to make appearances at air shows across the Midwest, including a visit to Oshkosh every July since 1993. Eventually two of the partners bought out two of the partners. In 2001 a firewall forward and overhaul of the Pratt & Whitney 1340 and all its accessories was completed. The Texan raced in the Reno Air Races as Race 87. The Texan finished 3rd in 2002 in the Bronze T6 Class.
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