The AT-6 Texan, redesignated the T-6 in 1962, is one of the most used and collected warbirds that exist today. The T-6 was designed as an advanced trainer aircraft during WWII and was used at some point by almost every serviceman that went through the US Air Corp. After completing basic training on the biplane Boeing Stearman, pilots would go on to advance training where they would learn to fly mono wing planes such as the Vultee BT-13 Variant and AT-6 Texan. Afterward, depending on the proven skill set and placement they would go onto either single-engine training school or multi-engine training, basically separating the class into fighter pilots or bomber pilots. The AT-6 played a pivotal role in training pilots being one of the first training aircraft they flew with metal surfaces, hydraulic flaps, retractable landing gear, and .30mm machine guns mounted in the wings for aerial and ground gunnery practice.
The T-6 was such a popular aircraft that 34 countries signed contracts with North American for planes of their own. 15,495 T-6’s were built to supply purchase orders from other countries as well as the United States. Throughout its service the aircraft has been known under several designations: the USAAC and later the USAAF designated it the AT-6 until 1962, US Navy designated it the SNJ and the British Commonwealth Air Force designated it the Harvard, which is its best-known name outside the United States.
Due to the T-6’s ease of maintenance, low cost, and large production, it has become one of the most popular warbirds collected today. Unlike fighters or bombers which had a relatively short-lived life expectancy overseas, the T-6 lasted long past WWII and was used during Korea as a trainer for the US. It never saw front-line service as a fighter for the USAAF but it was used by other countries up through the 1970s as a fighter plane. With its Pratt & Whitney R-1340-AN-1 Wasp radial engine, 600 hp (450 kW), the plane was capable of speeds up to 208 mph. This later changed as the performance of the plane was enhanced for racing. The T6 gave pilots the ability to do rolls, Immelmanns, loops, spins, snaps, and vertical rolls which were partly why it made for such a good trainer. This later allowed the plane to be very versatile in aerobatic roles at Airshows.
One of the great historical aspects of the T-6 is all the different paint jobs that the plane has had from being used in so many different squadrons in so many different countries.
Meet Our Plane!
This is an SNJ-5 Texan. The SNJ-5 was one of 1573 AT-6D Texans released by the USAAC to the Navy as trainers and designated as the SNJ. The AT-6D was the same as the AT-6B but had a 24v DC electrical system.
Our SNJ-5, serial number 51864-1, was released by the war assets administration in December 1947 with the Pratt and Whitney 600 R-1340-AN-1. Sadly not much is known between 1947 when it was released and when the first owner, Arthur Medore of Hemet, CA, took ownership in September of 1999.
Under Arthur Medore, the plane was first registered as N4082G with the FAA. In May of 2002, 51864-1 was sold to Loren B Buss of Crop Care Inc. in Monte Vista, CO where it stayed for 16 years before being acquired by the Commemorative Air Force in 2018. 51864-1 got its new home in 2019 in Bozeman, Mt.