The T-6 Texan is an American single-engine advanced trainer aircraft used to train pilots of the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF), United States Navy, Royal Air Force, and other air forces of the British Commonwealth during World War II and into the 1970s. The Texan was built by North American Aviation. It originated from a NA-16 prototype (first flown on April 1st, 1935) which, modified as the NA-26, was submitted as an entry for a U.S. Army Air Corps “Basic Combat” aircraft competition in March 1937.
The T-6 is known by a variety of designations depending on the model and operating air force. The United States Army Air Corps and USAAF designated it as the AT-6, the United States Navy the SNJ, and British Commonwealth air forces as the Harvard, the name by which it is best known outside the U.S. Noorduyn of Canada also built 1,500, called the AT-16, during the war years.
Re-designated as T-6s in 1948, a total of 15,495 of all variants were built. This aircraft is one of 1,743 T-6Gs built between 1940 and 1950. Noted for their safety record and maintenance reliability over the years, the T-6 variants trained thousands of pilots throughout the world, plus flew as observation aircraft, gunnery training aircraft, and even as fighters in some countries. The last known military use of the Texan was by the South Africa Air Force as a trainer in 1995, which gives it a working history of 60 years, a figure virtually unrivaled by any other WWII-period aircraft.
Today the T-6 remains a popular warbird aircraft used for airshow demonstrations and static displays. It has also been used many times to simulate various Japanese aircraft, including the Mitsubishi A6M Zero, in movies depicting World War II in the Pacific.