North American SNJ-4 Texan “BlueBird”
This aircraft is currently in our Rides Program – visit the rides page for more information and book your ride today!
The North American T-6/SNJ Texan is a two-place advanced trainer. The RAF used the designation of Harvard for this aircraft.
Designed as a transition trainer between basic trainers and first-line tactical aircraft, the T-6/SNJ trained several hundred thousand pilots in 34 different countries over a period of 25 years.
North American Aviation built 15,495 planes between 1938 and 1955. Considered a “pilot’s airplane”, it was designed to give the best possible training in all types of tactics, from ground strafing to bombardment and aerial dog fighting. It contained such versatile equipment as bomb racks, blind flying instrumentation, gun and standard cameras, fixed and flexible guns, and just about every other device that military pilots had to operate. The AT-6G/SNJ-5 also involved major advancements including a full-time hydraulic system and a steerable tail wheel and persisted into the 1950s as the USAF advanced trainer.
Korean War AT-6s are most famous for their service as forward air controllers, designating targets for and coordinating UN air strikes throughout the war. Originally, they equipped the US 6147th Tactical Control Squadron, which operated with the call-sign “Mosquito.” The “Mosquito” nickname became associated with both the 6147th TCS and with their T-6 aircraft.
Since the Second World War, the T-6 continued frontline service with many foreign air forces, most recently in the Pakistan-India war of 1971 and as a basic trainer with the South African Air Force until 1995.
In civilian service the T-6 has been a regular participant at air shows, and was used in many movies. Famously, in Tora! Tora! Tora! and The Final Countdown, converted single-seat T-6s painted in Japanese markings represent Mitsubishi Zeroes, whereas in A Bridge too Far it represented the razorback Republic P-47 Thunderbolt. The New Zealand Warbirds “Roaring 40s” aerobatic team uses ex-Royal New Zealand Air Force Harvards and the Reno National Air Races has a class specifically for the T-6 during their National Air Races each year.
Length: 29′ 5″ 8.9 m
Wingspan: 42′ 0″ 12.8 m
Height: 11′ 8.5″ 3.5 m
Wing area: 254.0 sq ft 23.5 sq m
Empty weight: 4,158 lb 1,885 kg
Loaded weight: 5,300 lb 2,403 kg
Powerplant: 1 × Pratt & Whitney R-1340-AN-1 Wasp radial engine, 600 hp (450 kW)
Maximum speed: 205 mph (330 km/h 178 kt)
Stall speed: 70 mph (61kn, 112 kph)
Range: 750 miles (1,207 km )
Service ceiling: 21,500 ft (6,552 m)
Rate of climb: 1,200 ft/min (365 m/min)
Wing loading: 22.2 lb/ft² (108 kg/m²)
Power/mass: 0.11 hp/lb (kW/kg)
Provision for up to 3× 0.30 in (7.62 mm) machine guns
The Commemorative Air Force’s SNJ-4 Texan “BlueBird” was originally delivered to the US Navy on September 21, 1942 from North American Aviation (Bureau No 10148, N75964 #44, construction number is 88-9830) and passed its check ride just eight days later on the 29th of September. It was then ferried to Waldron Field, Corpus Christi, Texas where it was signed over to the Navy and put into service on the 30th of September 1942.
After 3,011.7 hours of flight time with the 705 Training Squadron, BlueBird was decommissioned on March 26,1946 and transferred to Pratt, Kansas via Vernon, Texas where it was purchased for $250 by a private collector, Darrel Dikeman.
Mr. Dikeman continued to enjoy flying this SNJ-4 until a mishap due to a fouled fuel line in La Venta, Colorado while enroute from Syracuse, Kansas to Alamosa, Colorado for engine service. It was recovered in 1946 and restored to flying condition.
Subsequent to 1946, the ownership of this SNJ is not clear; however it is known to have been delivered to the Royal Saudi Air Force as L-212 on October 31, 1952. (reference: BuNos! Disposition of World War II USN, USMC and USCG Aircraft Listed by Bureau Number. Douglas E. Campbell)
On March 3, 1959 a certificate of airworthiness was issued for SNJ-4, 88-10117 with civil registration number N6411D and on April 12, 1970 it was sold to an unknown owner before finally being acquired by the CAF for restoration in 1982.
The SoCal wing received BlueBird in many pieces on a truck from CAF in Midland, Texas and after six years of careful and dedicated work restored this beautiful aircraft to flying condition.
You are likely to see BlueBird at local air shows or during demonstration flights in the skies over beautiful Ventura County where it is serving the important function of familiarizing individuals with the thrill of flying in this venerable advanced trainer from the second half of the 20th Century.
Be sure to check our Rides program and sign up for an unforgettable flight in BlueBird.