Home Base: Thomaston, GA
Operation: Central and Eastern USA
Model: Harvard Mk. IV
Wing Span: 42' 4"
Length: 29' 6"
Height: 11' 9"
Max Speed: 240 mph
Gross Weight: 5,700 lbs
Power Plant: Pratt & Whitney R1340-AN-1
Fuel Capacity: 110 gallons
Armament: 2 - 30 caliber machine guns.
John Hyle's North American Harvard Mk. IV "J's Bird"
John "Skipper" Hyle is the owner and operator of this 1952 North American Harvard Mk. IV "J's Bird" which is available for airshows, flybys, formation and films. Jay Matt Aviation dba "Air Corps Aerobatics" provides a living history bent to your airshow, we come in period flight gear and perform an act based on the World War II Acro Check that every Allied pilot took in the T-6, SNJ, or Harvard.
The North American Harvard (NA-26) appeared in late 1937, in response to a US Army Air Corps proposal for an advanced trainer. It immediately attracted orders from the USAAC, RAF, RCAF and other air forces. The first of 50 Harvard Mk. Is ordered by the Canadian Government were delivered to the RCAF at Sea Island, Vancouver in July 1939. By early 1940, the Mk II was on the assembly line in California with an all metal fuselage replacing the original tube and fabric structure. 1200 Mk. IIs were supplied from US sources until Canadian-built Harvards started rolling off the assembly lines in 1941.
In August 1938, Noorduyn Aviation of Montreal farsightedly signed an agreement with North American to build Harvards under licence. When the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP) came into being in December 1939, Noorduyn received its first orders and once into production went on to construct nearly 2,800 Harvard IIBs for the RCAF and the RAF, between 1940 and 1945.
In Canada, Harvard IIBs were used as advanced trainers with the BCATP at 15 Service Flying Training Schools (SFTS) spread across the nation. They helped pilots make the transition from low-powered primary trainers like the DH Tiger Moth or Fleet Finch to high performance front
line fighters. The Harvard was well suited to this role as it had habits to teach inexperienced pilots to respect the Spitfires and Hurricanes they would meet in the future.
At the end of WWII, although the RCAF retained the Harvard as a trainer, a large number of them were declared surplus and sold-off to civilian operators. The RCAF soon regretted doing this, for by 1949 the Cold War with the Soviet Union was in full swing and the RCAF needed trainers again urgently. 100 T-6J Texans were leased temporarily from the USAF and a further 270 Harvards, now the Mk. IV version, were ordered from Canadian Car & Foundry in Thunder Bay. The RCAF kept the Harvard Mk. IV on as a trainer for a further 15 years, before finally retiring it in 1966.
A total of 20,110 Harvards/T-6s/SNJs were built between 1938 and 1954, 3,370 of them in Canada.
J's Bird was received by the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) on 9 September 1952 and served with No. 1 Flying Instructor's School at RCAF Station Trenton, Ontario. The aircraft was stuck from the records on 15 August 1966. It also spent some time with the Canadian Warplane Heritage, a flying museum similar to the American Airpower Heritage in this country, based in Ontario, Canada. After that it ended up in Vancouver, British Columbia where it was used in an aerial combat operation; "fighter pilot for a day" if you will. That explains the protrusions on the left wing tip and the vertical stabilizer; those are cameras. The left wing also has a laser emitter and the ADF boot is laser permeable. The smoke system was automatic, so when you are "lazed" it comes on to show a "hit". The machine gun in the right wing root would have only been on some variants of the Harvard and T-6; this one is operated by propane.
The paint scheme represents that applied to training and administrative aircraft in Britain during World War II. The serial number you see actually belongs to a Harvard Mk II that saw service in England during that period. In that sense it is completely accurate, or inaccurate, depending on your point of view.
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