Texan Warming Up
80 Years Ago: A North American SNJ-4 Texan trainer aircraft warms up. The photograph was released on December 5, 1942.
Dubbed the AT-6 by the Army and the Havard by Commonwealth forces, the Navy used the “J-Bird” as an all-purpose trainer for instrument flight, aerobatics, bombing, and gunnery, acquiring the first 40 in 1936 and then keeping them in the field as late as the mid-1950s.
Many of these wore a distinctive high-viz “chrome” paint livery, giving them the nickname of “yellow perils.”
If it was not for the thousands of these humble trainers on hand to school future naval aviators at Pensacola and elsewhere, the pilot pipeline for all those beautiful Corsairs, Hellcats, Dauntless, Avengers, and Hellcats that went on to win the Pacific War would have been very narrow indeed.
North American production totaled 15,495 of all variants and they have remained durable and popular warbirds in retirement, with over 400 still airworthy in the U.S. alone.
And they went on to fill the void as both Japanese and American carrier aircraft in a number of films.