Warbirds In Review 2019 T-34 and T-28 70th Anniversary

The First Flight of the North American T-28 Trojan was 70 Years ago this summer (1949).  After WWII the US military had over 45,000 trainers; but not a single one of them had a nose wheel; all were tail wheel aircraft.  The Military realized all future fighter jets (and transports and bombers) would be nose wheel tricycle gear aircraft.  They asked North American, builder of the successful AT-6 Texan, P-51 and B-25 to make an aircraft to fill the urgently need for a high-performance trainer to ease the transition from trainer to jets. From 1949 to 1984, over 35 years, nearly 2,000 T-28s served to train thousands of military aviators, in the Airforce (T-28A’s) and Navy/Marines (T-28Bs and Cs).  The Army also used T-28s.  

In 1953, the U.S. Navy, believing the Air Force’s A-model was under powered, modified and flew the first T-28B.  This aircraft differed substantially from the A-model’s 7 cylinder motor in that it now carried a 9 cylinder  R-1820 Wright Cyclone engine which boosted hp to 1,425 and increased top speed to 346 mph from 292 mph.  It also went to a 3-blade prop from a 2 blade.  These engine and prop changes increased the B models service ceiling to 37,000 feet, a 6,000-foot increase over the A-model.  Interestingly, it was Bob Hoover who was the test pilot for the T-28B.

The development of T-34 began in 1940s under the designation Beechcraft Model 45 for replacing the North American T-6 Texan II aircraft. Three design concepts were proposed, but the final design was issued in 1948. The maiden flight of Model 45 took place in December 1948.  In 1950, the USAF ordered three YT-34 test aircraft whose production commenced in 1953. The YT-34 was renamed as T-34 in March 1953. It was selected by 23 countries worldwide to train professional military pilots. The T-34 entered service with the USAF in May 1954. Production of T-34A and T-34B was halted in 1956 and 1957 respectively. The B45, a licensed version of T-34, was produced in Canada, Japan and Argentina until 1958. Its production was suspended in 1959.  The T-34 Mentor was the first American primary trainer aircraft to be equipped with tricycle landing gear.