North American Harvard Trainer Is a Winged Texan Gone British

We all heard the names Spitfire, P-51, Zero or Stuka – these are the most famous participants in the aerial battlefields of World War 2, the heroes or monsters of those awful years. But they were not the only ones that played their part, contributing to the war effort.
Harvard trainer airplane 6 photos
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The T-6 Texan, for instance, is one of the lesser-sung metal birds in the skies of that time. Built by North American Aviation, the same company behind the legendary P-51 Mustang, it was designed as a single-engined trainer for would-be pilots.

The plane had its first flight in 1935, and proved successful enough to be quickly adopted by many Air Forces outside America. The Royal Air Force had a particular soft spot for it, only it didn’t like to call it Texan. As a result, a closer-to-home name was chosen: Harvard.

Capable of carrying two people – the student and trainer – the plane had maximum speed of 208 mph (335 kph) and a range of 730 miles (1,175 km). It wasn’t equipped with weapons, but had the necessary hardware in place to be able to house up to three machine guns.

During its production run, close to 15,500 such planes were made, and used in some places, like say South Africa, well until the 1990s. It may seem familiar to some of you, as the Texans/Harwards have been a constant presence at air shows, but were also featured in World War II movies, including wearing a disguise to make them look like Japanese Zeroes.

We uncovered one of these Harvards, waiting in Italy for a new owner to come along and buy it, for an undisclosed price. Unfortunately, there’s no record on this plane’s aerial exploits, other than the fact its current condition is the result of a very long overhaul, and it has been in the possession of a single owner since 1988.

Editor's note: This article was not sponsored or supported by a third-party.


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