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TINKER HISTORY: AT-6 Texan

AT-6 engine steam cleaning at Tinker. (Photo courtesy of Tinker History Office)

AT-6 engine steam cleaning at Tinker. (Photo courtesy of Tinker History Office)

Mike Halem is shown in his T-6 Texan which wears U.S. Air Force training markings in Easton, Md., Sept. 29, 2013. (Photo by Greg L. Davis)

Mike Halem is shown in his T-6 Texan which wears U.S. Air Force training markings in Easton, Md., Sept. 29, 2013. (Photo by Greg L. Davis)

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. --

The North American AT-6 “Texan” was a single-engine, basic trainer built for the Army Air Corps during World War II. It also saw service with the U.S. Navy with the designation SNJ (Scout Trainer North American) and with Royal Air Forces’ as the Harvard. The design featured robust main landing gear under a low mono-wing, tailwheel and single vertical tail. The tandem cockpit accommodated the student pilot in front and instructor pilot in the rear.

 

According to official Tinker history documents and photographs, the modification, upgrade and in some cases full overhaul of 630 AT-6 aircraft took place at the newly designated Oklahoma City Air Materiel Area between July and Dec. 1946. Many of the aircraft had been stored within the previous year so they were quickly processed through, while others had parts overhauled on the aircraft or within the facility. Parts that were unavailable were manufactured on-site due to the high priority of the project overshadowing other OCAMA projects after taking over the former Douglas aircraft manufacturing facility.

 

In 1948 the AT-6 was re-designated as the T-6. A year later, in 1949, a major upgrade program for 1,800 T-6s took place at Tinker which resulted in a new designation, the T-6G, along with allocation of new serial numbers. These aircraft were then used extensively during the initial stages of the Korean War in the ‘Mosquito’ Forward Air Control missions of which they were perfectly tailored for due to long loiter time and slow flight capabilities which helped the observer in the back-seat pin-point ground targets and then call in artillery and air-strike.

 

The T-6 Texan was relegated to the Air National Guard for limited pilot proficiency and observer duties until finally retired from service. Many aircraft made it into civilian hands and have become a popular aircraft within the warbird community.

Manufacturer: North American

Aircraft type: AT-6


Nickname: Texan


Crew: 1


Power plant: One Pratt & White R1340 radial engine creating 550-600 horse power


In-service dates: 1939-1950s


Number produced: 15,117


Tinker connection: Maintenance, repair and overhaul