INDEX OF NAVAL AIRCRAFT
|North American AT-6 Harvard (Texan)|
The genesis of the Harvard began with a 1934 US contract for a primary trainer to meet an US Army Air Corps requirement. The first prototype, the North American NA-16 which first flew on 1 April 1935 evolved into the AT-6 Texan. This aircraft was produced in several variants, with several powerplants ranging from 400 to 600hp. Production of the BT-9 type for the US Army Air Corps started in 1936 with a contract for 95 and this series was again ordered in 1937 with a contract for 248. In 1937 the addition of retractable undercarriage, a Pratt and Whitney R-1340 powerplant and some other refinements to the airframe produced a recognisable Harvard. The AT-6 was first produced in 1939 and was similar to (and eventually replaced) the BC-1A basic combat trainer in the US when the basic combat classification was abandoned. Several series of AT-6 advanced trainers were built over the next few years, development continued with the replacement of fabric with metal, and other refinements.
The AT-6A (US Navy designation SNJ-3), had a Pratt and Whitney R-1340-AN1 engine. The major change in the AT-6C (SNJ-4 and Harvard IIA) was in the materials used for construction. Because of possible materials shortages, theC model was redesigned to eliminate aluminum alloy and high alloy steels. Considerable use was made of low alloy steel and plywood in this model. When the expected shortages did not develop, the aircraft reverted to the standard structure. The D model had the standard structure with an R-1340-AN1 engine and a 24 volt electrical system
More than 17,000 Harvards were eventually built in the US or under license in Australia, Canada, Japan, the Netherlands and Sweden. 2,610 Harvard IIB's were built in Canada by Noorduyn Aviation Limited, and 555 Harvard Mk IV by the Canadian Car and Foundry in the 1950s. Many remained in service in military air arms for over twenty years after the end of WWII, finally serving in a total of more than 40 airforces around the world.
South Africa was the last air force to use the Harvard after 55 years service, from 1940-1995. They are still regarded as National Treasues in South Africa, and a notice to this effect was published recently in the South Africa Government Gazette, stating "The National Monuments Commission hereby declares ten Harvard aircraft .... to be cultural treasures on account of the historical and technical importance thereof....."
Harvard 7051 of the SAAF (South Africa)
The Fleet Air Arm acquired a total of 236 Harvards from 1943 till at least 1955. Prior to that time Fleet Air Arm crews used the Harvard trainer as part of the Empire Air Training Scheme, EATS (also called the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, BCATP in Canada). The initial responsibility for establishing, administering and operating this complex plan was placed upon the shoulders of the RCAF, RAAF, RNZAF and SAAF from 1940. The Fleet Air Arm did not acquire its own squadron aircraft until 1943.
The Harvard was selected as the favoured trainer aircraft in Canada, Australia and New Zealand as part of the EATS or BCATP, and trained many Fleet Air Arm personnel. The BCATP evolved following a meeting of Government representatives from United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and Canada in Ottawa, and signed an agreement to set up the Plan in December 1939, converting Canada into what President Roosevelt later termed "the aerodrome of democracy." It was only after the signing of the Lend- Lease agreement by Great Britain could the Harvard be delivered to the countries partaking in the scheme. First to receive the Harvard MKI was Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) and then three found there way into South Africa by 1940. The first schools opened in Canada in April 1940, and by 24 November 1940 the first trainees from the Scheme arrived in the UK. In total 137,000 aircrew came to Canada from all corners of the globe to earn their wings in the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. Harvards began arriving in numbers in South Africa in 1942.
One of the main training schools was at the RCAF Station, Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada, where the Royal Navy had the eastern side of the airfield whilst the RCAF flew anti-submarine patrols in Cansos from the other side of the field.
The Harvard first saw direct service with FAA squadrons in June 1943 with 793 squadron at Mackinnon Road. From then on the number of aircraft built up through mid 1944 onwards. Some of these aircraft were ex SAAF Harvards (eg EX643, EZ178 etc). The final FAA Harvard was payed off in January 1955 with Harvard FE697 as part of the Hong Kong Auxilliary air force.
Fleet Air Arm history
Total FAA 1939-1945: 236
First delivered to RN: 1943 (although under the BCATP Harvards were used from 1940)
First squadron 1939-1945: 795 sqdn
Operational squadron: None
Last served with RN 1955
North American AT-6C Harvard IIAs
Serial Numbers: EX100 – EX846
North American AT-6D Harvard IIIs
Serial Numbers EX847 – EZ458
North American AT-16 Harvard IIB
Serail Numbers: FE276-FH166
North American AT-16 Harvard IIB
Serial Numbers: FS661-FT460
North American AT-6D Harvard III
Serial Numbers: FT955-FT974
North American AT-16 Harvard IIB
Serial Numbers: FX198 – FX497
North American SNJ-4 Harvard under Acquisition No.
BAC/n-1990 for the Royal Navy
Serial Numbers: KE305-KE309
North American AT-16 Harvard IIBs
Serial Numbers: KF100 – KF999
There is a static display FAA Harvard Mk III Trainer EX976 (41-33949) in the Fleet Air Arm Museum (UK), RCN Harvard in the Naval Museum at Shearwater (Canada), three RCAF Harvards in the National Aviation Museum of Canada (20387 (RCAF), 2532 (RCAF), and 3840 (RCAF). There is a RAAF and RNZAF Harvard at the RAAF Museum Harvard IIA NZ1034. A RNZAF Harvard MKIII NZ1087 is displayed at the RNZAF Museum.
The example at the Atlantic Canada Aviation Museum saw service as part of the British Air Commonwealth Training Plan (BACTP) at the RCAF Station Yarmouth, Nova Scotia (Canada).
South Africa was the last country flying the Harvard in military circles, and even in 1990 some 70 SAAF Harvards were upgraded to Mark IV avionics. They ended 55 years service with the SAAF in 1995, and were sold off that year for a very low price. However, still some 30 remain in South Africa and the heritage lives on with the Harvard Club of South Africa which maintains ten Harvards. The aircraft serial numbers are 7024, 7028 (AOS), 7059, 7152 (AOP) , 7156 , 7166 ,7306, 7592, 7643 (AOX) , 7661.
Harvard Club of South Africa Nine of the club's Harvards lined up at Springs Airfield. "Nellie" and 7569 can be seen on the end
A number of the South African Harvards have been exported around the world including to New Zealand, such as ZK-XSA which is ex-South African Airforce aircraft (7660) imported in 1996. Assembled at Aerotech at Ardmore, and now based at Ashburton, this aircraft was built in 1941 as a Mk.III (41-16269), but has subsequently been modified to T-6G standard. One of the owners is the Editor of Classic Wings Downunder.
There are almost 50 Harvards flying in Canada, mostly members of the Canadian Harvard Aircraft Association, and at least an additional 16 are airworthy in New Zealand. New Zealand was one of the last Commonwealth countries to maintain its Harvards in military service, the last 19 airworthy aircraft were withdrawn in 1977, and subsequently sold along with 13 aircraft that were in storage. These aircraft provided the nucleus of a developing warbird scene in New Zealand in the 1980's.
The Atlantic Canada Aviation Museum was fortunate enough to receive a Harvard Mk II from the National Aviation Musuem, in Ottawa, on a ten year loan. While on loan to the Museum, the Harvard has been cleaned up and restored for static display. The Harvard arrived at ACAM in the summer of 1996, courtesy of Owen Davis Trucking in Lower Sackville. This aircraft had seen service in Atlantic Canada during World War II as part of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BACTP). It spent most of its service time flying from RCAF Station Yarmouth, NS (Canada). Later, it was used as a Gate Guard in Ontario before being rescued by the National and later delivered to ACAM.
Five Harvards remain with the RNZAF:
Netherlands acquired 220 Harvards from the RAF. Today a North American (Noorduyn) AT-16 Harvard is at the Militare Luchtvaart Museum in the markings of a Dutch Fleet Air Arm aircraft and in addition there is a 4 aircraft Harvard IIB group of the Gilze-Rijen Flight (Stichting Vliegsport Gilze-Rijen)(Netherlands).
The Museu Aero Fénix (Portugal) has as its current projects restoration activities of T-6G ex-FAP 1635, T-6G ex-FAP 1674, T-6G ex-FAP 1716, and Harvard Mk.IIA ex-FAP 1539. The Harvard "1539" (USAF no.41-33155, construction No. 88-9261) served in the RAF in 1942 as EX182, and subsequently as 7051 in the South African Air Force in 35 Squadron at Stamford Hill, Durban. From 1969 this aircraft served with the Portuguese air force in Angola.The aircraft was donated to the Museu Aero Fénix, Vale de Lobos (Portugal) in 1995.
FLIGHTS IN HARVARDS
Harvard Flights for the public by Biplane Adventures (NZ)