The North American Aviation T-28 Trojan, in 1948, won the competition for the next generation pilot training aircraft. It became the first all-new, post World War II trainer. However, plans to utilize it for both basic and advanced training had to be changed when it became apparent the speed and power of the T-28s challenged new cadets too soon. Modifications to North American's pre-World War II T-6 Texan, with its smaller engine, served Air Force needs for basic training through the Korean War. A T-28A had a wingspan of 40 feet, 1 inch; an overall length of 32 feet; and an overall height of 12 feet 8 inches. The 800-horsepower piston engine provided a maximum speed of almost 300 mph; a cruising speed of 191 mph; a ferry range of 1,056 miles; a rate of climb of 31.2 feet per second; and a service ceiling of 24,200 feet. The T-28As weighed in at 5,107 pounds empty and 7,462 pounds fully loaded. The XT-28 prototype first flew Sept. 26, 1949, and until 1953, North American built 1,193 T-28As plus other T-28 models.
Air Commando T-28 usage began with the reactivation of the force in 1961 when eight were assigned to Hurlburt Field. They were modified to carry .50 caliber machine guns, 2.75-inch rockets and a small quantity of bombs. In November 1061, T-28s deployed with the FARMGATE detachment for South Vietnamese air force training and for combat. The aircraft were also used by another Hurlburt Detachment in 1962, BOLD VENTURE, in executing training and humanitarian missions in Panama. During a typical week of FARMGATE activity in March 1963, the T-28s flew 90 sorties and expended ordnance on 58 of them, which resulted in confirmed claims of nine boats destroyed and seven damaged.
In 1962 the Air Force began a program to modify more than 200 T-28As as T-28D "Nomad" tactical fighter-bombers for counter-insurgency warfare in Southeast Asia. Equipped with the larger 1,425-hp engines and many other changes, the T-28Ds eventually proved to be an effective close air support weapon against enemy ground forces. The South Vietnamese Air Force (VNAF) used a number of USAF-supplied T-28Bs in a similar role until the Ds became available. The USAF also provided T-28s to the Royal Laotian Air Force and the Royal Thai Air Force. The USAF replaced the T-28 as a primary trainer in the mid-1950s with the piston-engined Beech T-34 Mentor and jet-powered Cessna T-37. Trojans, however, continued to be flown by the Air National Guard until the late 1950s, and by the U.S. Navy into the 1980s.
North American Aviation, Inc., developed a modified version of the U.S. Air Force T-28A training aircraft which had been in service since 1950. The T-28B provided the Navy with a more powerful engine and a three-bladed propeller. It retained its basic configuration as a tandem-seat trainer and was flown for the first time in April 1953. The Navy ordered the T-28B and named it the Trojan. Mission requirements called for advanced flight training following primary and basic training. This was the Navy's first plane to be assigned an operational training role with a design that incorporated the use of a tricycle undercarriage. The first T-28Bs were accepted by the Navy in October 1953, with deliveries going first to the advanced training units and the Naval Air Advanced Technical Training Command.
The T-28B was an adequate trainer but it did not meet one of the Navy's requirements - it was not equipped with an arresting hook for carrier landings. To correct that problem, the Navy ordered the T-28C. It was essentially the same aircraft except that it had a tail hook and a shorter prop, and was slightly heavier than the T-28B. The T-28C first flew on December 23, 1954, and became operational on November 4, 1955, with the same mission as the T- 28B. The T-28s provided over 30 years of service in the training squadrons, a tribute to their hardiness.
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