North American SNJ-4 Texan

One of the best known and prolific military trainers in history is the North American Texan.

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After the jump, a brief look at a US Navy version.

The Texan is the best known derivative of a family of trainers built by North American starting in the 1930s.  Its first designation was BC-1, for “Basic Combat”, before the Air Corps changed the course name to Advanced Training and the later trainers would switch to an “AT” designation, giving this type its better known identifier, AT-6.  Right from the start the type was purchased by the British as the “Harvard” and the US Navy as the SNJ.  It was very popular on the international market as well.

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This is the Monogram kit, with decals by Decals Carpena.  This is one of Monogram’s classic kits from the 1970s, right as they were making them less toy like and more aimed at serious hobbyists.  I would say it has held up well; with a nice level of detail and easy construction.  I only wish more variants were available.  The decals were brittle; but I’m not sure if it was a manufacturing flaw, or purely their age (the sheet was from the mid-1990s).

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The aircraft shown here was a Navy Gunnery trainer in 1943 at NAS Alameda.  As a gunnery trainer it has a .30 on the right side of the nose.  This was a common modification for such types.

A colorful line up of Texans at NAS Corpus Christi

 

The Texan was produced in a staggering variety of versions.  Not only many versions of trainer; but two different single seat fighter versions by North American (P-64 and NA-50) and a light attack plane (A-27).  Commonwealth Aviation of Australia also developed a two seat attack plane (Wirraway) and single seat fighter (Boomerang) from the Texan.  Post-War, several Texans were modified to look like Japanese Zeros for the movie Tora!Tora!Tora! and have been staples on the warbird circuit ever since.

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Many Texans had a single .30 in the nose for gunnery training.

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Anyone who has ever seen any Texan fly will be familiar with its most enduring and endearing trait, it is loud!  Like any radial, the R-1340 engine is noisy in its own right.  But combined with simple two bladed propeller that routinely breaks the sound barrier at its tips, it is louder than most much bigger types.  Commonwealth pilots semi-affectionately referred to it as the “noisy North American”.

Up Next: Messerschmitt Bf109G 

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About atcDave

I'm 53 years old and live in Ypsilanti, Michigan. I'm happily married to Jodie. I've been an air traffic controller for 30 years; grew up in the Chicago area, and am still a fanatic for pizza and the Chicago Bears. My main interest is military history, and my related hobbies include scale model building and strategy games.
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6 Responses to North American SNJ-4 Texan

  1. Gotta love the Texan. Fine job. The Navy colors suit it well.

  2. Terry Brodin says:

    I agree, nice paint scheme.
    Some time in the future, when the last of the “hotrod” warbirds is grounded, I’ll wager the Texans will continue on. A true classic right up there with the DC-3/C-47!

    • atcDave says:

      Its a classic and it was built to take abuse!
      I was at Osh Kosh in 1998 when they had over 100 Texans in formation. It was awe inspiring!

  3. Theresa says:

    The Texan was being used as a basic trainer up until the 1980’s. Both George Bushes learned on the Texan.

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