North American AT-6D Texan  [@ RAF Duxford]

One of the best-known training aircraft of all time, the AT-6 Texan was designed in the late 1930s as a low-cost, duel control, advanced combat trainer with the handling characteristics of a high-speed fighter and was developed from the fixed-undercarriage BC-1 combat trainer produced for the USAAC in 1937. The first production AT-6 appeared in 1940 and was followed in 1941 by the AT-6A (US Navy SNJ-3), 1549 of which were built. The AT-6B was similar, but intended for gunnery training; and the AT-6C (SNJ-4) had structural modifications to save on aluminium, 2970 being built. The major production version was the AT-6D (SNJ-5), 4388 of which were produced and the last variant was the more powerful AT-6F (965 built).

Around 5000 Texans went to the RAF and Commonwealth air forces as the Harvard. In fact, the first Harvardís delivered to the RAF were BC-1s, which entered service in 1938. Most British and Commonwealth pilots, received their advanced training on the Harvard during the Second World War, many under the huge training schemes set up in Canada.

North American T-6 Harvard IIB  [@ RAF Duxford]

The above airworthy Harvard was built in Canada in 1942 and served with the No.6 Flying School in Canada during the remainder of WWII. It was sold to the Swedish Air Force in 1947 and finally came to England in 1989.

The type was also produced under licence in Australia, Canada and Sweden. The aircraft continued in service until 1950 with the US Air Force, 1953 with the US Navy, and 1955 with the RAF. It was used operationally both by the USAF in Korea in 1950 and by the RAF in Kenya and Malaya in the 1950s. Over 16,000 were built in the US, as well as 2,600 in Canada and 750 in Australia. The Texan/Harvard was used for many tasks during its career, including counter-insurgency and forward air control.