T2J / T-2A Buckeye jet trainer
The first T2J made its maiden flight in December 1957. It was designed for use as a basic jet trainer that would provide the type of features found in high-performance jet fighters and modern service planes. It had a tandem-seat, single jet engine, straight wing and tricycle landing gear. The T2J was capable of operating as a land or carrier-based training aircraft.
A unique feature was its dual ejection system which the instructor could operate from either the front or back seat. The low-level, rocket-propelled ejection system provided a safe means of escape for pilot and student throughout the flight envelope, including ground level. This was the first time this type of escape/ejection system had been incorporated into a trainer.
Simplicity of operation was an important feature provided by the T2J-1. It was equipped for use in gunnery, bombing and rocket training; formation and tactics; instrument training; carrier qualifications; and other operations including tow target. The T2J was designed to provide a comprehensive training program from primary through advanced training, giving the student a well-rounded background for further advanced training. These features, combined with ease of maintenance, reliability and economical operation, provided the Navy with an excellent basic jet trainer.
After the completion of Navy tests at the Naval Air Test Center (NATC), Patuxent River, Md., and aboard Antietam, the Naval Air Basic Training Command (NABTC) received its first T2J-1 Buckeyes in July 1959. After a training syllabus was developed, flight instructors began familiarization training. On November 2, 1959, the first class of Navy flight students began, assigned to BTG-9 (later redesignated VT-4) at NAS Pensacola.
More firsts followed for the T2J-1s. They were the first jets used in air-to-air gunnery practice in May 1960 and another milestone was recorded on June 2, 1960, when cadets from VT-4 were the first to carrier qualify in the T2J-1 aboard Antietem.
The last of the T2J-1s were delivered to the Navy in April 1961, bringing the total number built for the Navy to 217. The commands operating the Buckeye at that time were VT-4, VT-7, NABTC at NAS Pensacola and the Naval Air Technical Training Unit at Olathe, Kansas.
The twin-engine T-2Bs and Cs eventually replaced the single-engine A model. The last of the T-2As were retired from the Naval Air Training Command on February 28, 1973, after 14 years of service in basic flight training. In a reversal of the traditional pattern of aircraft acquisition, several T-2Bs which had been retired to storage at Davis- Monthan AFB were brought out of mothballs in the latter part of 1981 to fill the shortage of T-2Cs.
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