The T-37 Tweet is a twin-engine jet used for training undergraduate pilots, undergraduate navigator and tactical navigator students in fundamentals of aircraft handling, and instrument, formation and night flying. The twin engines and flying characteristics of the T-37 give student pilots the feel for handling the larger, faster T-38 Talon or T-1A Jayhawk later in the undergraduate pilot training course. The instructor and student sit side by side for more effective training. The cockpit has dual controls, ejection seats and a clamshell-type canopy that can be jettisoned. The T-37 has a hydraulically operated speed brakes, tricycle landing gear and a steerable nose wheel. Six rubber-cell, interconnected fuel tanks in each wing feed the main tank in the fuselage. More than 1,000 T-37s were built, and 507 remain in the US Air Force inventory. All have been repainted in a distinctive dark blue and white to help formation training and to ease maintenance.
The T-37A made its first flight in 1955 and went into service with the Air Force in 1956. All T-37A's have been modified to T-37B standards. A contract was awarded in August 1989 to Sabreliner Corp. for the T-37B Structural Life Extension Program. The contract included the design, testing and production of kits, installed by a U.S. Air Force contract field team, which modified or replaced critical structural components for the entire fleet, extending the capability of the T-37 into the next century.
The T-37B became operational in 1959. The T-37B has improved radio navigational equipment, UHF radio and redesigned instrument panels. Many air forces fly the T-37B, including those of Thailand, Greece, Chile, Jordan, Turkey and Pakistan. Students from 12 North Atlantic Treaty Organization countries train in T-37B's at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas. The preflight phase of Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training [SUPT] takes three weeks and consists of academics and physiology training to prepare students for flight. The second phase, primary training, is conducted in the twin-engine, subsonic T-37, a rugged aircraft equal in maneuverability to most of the fighters of World War II. Students learn aircraft flight characteristics, emergency procedures, takeoff and landing procedures, aerobatics, and formation flying. Students also practice night, instrument and cross-country navigation flying. Primary training takes approximately 23 weeks and includes 254.4 hours of ground training, 27.3 hours in the flight simulator, and 89 flying hours in the T-37.
The T-37C is similar to the T-37B, but has provisions for both armament and wingtip fuel tanks. The plane can carry two, 250-pound (112.5 kilogram) bombs. Associated equipment includes computing gun sights and a 16mm gun camera. The aircraft can be fitted with cameras for reconnaissance missions. Flying the T-37C are the air forces of Portugal, Peru, Colombia and Greece, among others.
After more than 50 years of service, the U.S. Air Force officially said farewell to the T-37 Tweet on July 31, 2009, during a ceremony at Sheppard AFB, TX.
Some sources claim that the T-48 designation was applied to a 1984 Cessna program for a modified T-37 Next Generation Trainer [NGT] program to replace the T-46,, but this is not widely attested. For some reason, the "T" (trainer) sequence, last seen in the Cessna T-47 in 1984, was restarted with the Beech T-1 Jayhawk in 1990.
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