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North American NA-16 / NA-18 / BT-9 / NJ-1 / BT-16 / NA-64 / Yale


The Texan began life in 1935 as the NA-16, a proto-type trainer designed by James H. “Dutch” Kindelberger, president of North American Aviation, Inc. It had two open cockpits and a fixed gear and was powered by a 400-hp engine.

In 1934, the U.S. Army Air Corps had issued spec-ifications for an airplane “to provide a means of command liaison and command reconnaissance for Corps and Divisions, and to provide for the maintenance of the combat flying proficiency of pilots and observers.” Kindelberger and North American worked to secure the contract, and the NA-16 flew for the first time on April 1,1935. The NA-16 was chosen over the competitors’ designs, but before ordering any NA-16s, the Air Corps required North American to enclose the cockpits with a sliding canopy, install streamlined fairings over the wheel struts and add wheel pants.


When the modifications were complete, the Air Corps ordered 42 under the com-pany design number NA-18; the Air Corps called it the BT-9 (basic trainer, type 9). The first production model was flown on April 15, 1936. The Navy or-dered 40 of them after the existing engine was replaced with a 500-hp version. That model was designated the NJ-1 (N for trainer and J for North American).

The 40 BT-9As that followed introduced a fixed forward gun (with gun camera) and a trainable gun in the rear cockpit. Only small changes were made in the 117 BT-9Bs and 67 BT-9Ds.

In 1938, Noorduyn acquired the manufacturing rights to the BT-9.

The basic type was then improved with the flying surfaces of the BC-lA and a metal-covered fuselage to produce the BT-14, of which 251 were built with the 336-kW (450-hp) Pratt & Whitney R-985-25 radial. Some 27 were later converted to BT-14A standard with the 298-kW (400-hp) R-985-11 engine.

Concurrently, the French ordered 230 of the BT-9/BT-14 models and called them Tomcats. When France was overrun by the Germans in 1940, Tomcats not yet delivered were given to the Royal Canadian Air Force and designated Yale Mark Is.

Engine: R-975-7 radial, 298-kW (400-hp)

Engine: Pratt & Whitney R-1340, 373-kW (500-hp)



Powerplant: l x Wright 8-975-7, 298kW (400 hp)
Span: 12.8m (42 ft)
Length: 8.41 m (27ft 7in)
Armament: 2 x 7.62-mm (0.3-in) mg
Max T/O weight: 2028 kg (4,471 lb)
Max speed: 170 mph at sea level
Operational range: 882 miles
Seats: 2


BT-14 / Yale Mk I
Engine: Pratt & Whitney R-985-25, 336-kW (450-hp)

Engine: R-985-11, 298-kW (400-hp)

NA-64 Yale
Engine: Wright R-975-E3 Whirlwind, 440 hp
Wing Span: 42ft 4in
Length: 27ft 11in
Speed: 170mph (273km/h)



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