Tens of thousands of aviators and airmen were trained during World War II - The U.S. Navy alone, for example, produced 61,658 pilots between 1942 and 1945. After WWII, the US military required a trainer aircraft to train a new generation of pilots. The T-28 Trojan was that aircraft, and BuNo 140597 was one of 299 T-28C trainers used for Training the Best for America’s Defense! Let’s learn more about the Trojan and how MotoArt has endeavored to preserve one special plane.
The North American Aviation T-28 Trojan is a piston-engined military trainer aircraft produced for the United States military between 1950 and 1957. Besides being a high performance advanced trainer, Trojans were also used as counter insurgency (COIN) aircraft during the Vietnam War. They were designed to replace the T-6/SNJ Texan.
A U.S. Navy North American T-28B Trojan (BuNo 138157) of Training Squadron VT-2 pictured in flight near Naval Air Station Whiting Field, Florida (USA), circa 1973. By U.S. Navy - U.S. Navy National Museum of Naval Aviation photo No. 1996.488.162.128, Public Domain, Link
After World War II, the military required a new trainer to replace the North American T-6 Texan. The XT-28 prototype took its first flight on September 24, which led to the production of the T-28A. Suitability tests performed by the 3200th Fighter Test Squadron found the Trojan satisfactory. 1,948 were built from 1950 to 1957. They became the first trainer designed to train pilots for the new jet powered aircraft that were now in service.
The T-28 made an ideal plane for flight training. They were powerful, but easily flown and predictable. They could be used for basic or advanced flight training, instrument, tactical and aerial gunnery. Generations of Navy and Marine servicemen became aviators and learned to land on aircraft carriers using the T-28C. T-28s, in some variant, were used as trainers or in combat by all US forces and nearly two dozen nations around the world. They remain popular warbirds to this day.
Drawing by Rob Schneider
Enjoy this T-28C Training video, showing an arrested landing.
NAA was a major American aerospace manufacturer, headquartered in Los Angeles, California. Over the years, after being sold and merged, they became North American Rockwell, then Rockwell International, which later became part of Boeing.
In addition to its very capable trainers, they produced some of the most historic aircraft including:
They were also involved in early nuclear development, with success in developing nuclear reactors and technology, and navigation systems, radar, data systems and the guidance systems for the Minuteman missile program. For the space program, their division Rocketdyne designed rocket engines and are responsible for the S-II second stage Saturn V and for the Apollo command and service module. The legacy of the ingenuity of NAA continues today.
This T-28C was delivered to the U.S. Navy in December 1956. It served at Naval Air Station Whiting Field, in Milton, Florida. Since its creation in 1943, NAS Whiting Field has been the pillar of the Navy’s flight program, training aviators continuously for nearly 80 years. Whiting Field employed the largest single concentration of T-28s.
T-28s were used to train prop students in the fundamentals of basic instruments and tactics, then aerobatics, formation, and air to air gunnery, progressing to carrier training. BuNo 140597 was mainly assigned to Training Squadrons VT-3 and VT-2, but also spent some time with VT-6 and VT-5.
Notably, at the pinnacle of the Vietnam War in 1968, VT-3 had 174 instructors and 162 T-28s flying nearly 110,000 instructional hours, setting a record for any training squadron in Naval Air Training History. Read more about Whiting Field history.
During the mid 70’s, T-28s began being phased out in favor of turboshaft engines and helicopters. 140597 was transferred to Military Aircraft Storage and Disposition Center (MASDC, now called AMARG, located at Davis-Monthan AFB) in February 1975, and struck off charge in November 1975. It remained in storage until it was sold at a Department of Defense sale in May 1982. Like many T-28s, it was sold to a private operator. However, this plane was never civil registered or restored. In 2021, it was sold at auction in Texas, which is how MotoArt obtained it.
Take a look at these records provided by the National Naval Aviation Museum:
MotoArt owner Dave Hall found out about some T-28 projects which were being auctioned in Sherman, Texas. He knew right away that they had to be preserved. “Completing our encyclopedia of aircraft has become somewhat of an obsession with us,” says Hall. “We were excited about the possibility of adding a T-28C to the fleet.”
Hall acquired BuNo 140597 and it was brought back to MotoArt Studios in Torrance, California. The team got to work cutting the fuselage skin from the plane.
The skin is cut into smaller sections to avoid cutting into the framework. This also makes it easier for the team to cut them into the familiar oval shape. The PlaneTags are laser etched, cleaned, assembled and are ready to be sent out to customers all over the world.
The manufacturing process is important to Hall, and the entire team. Each piece is examined to ensure that quality is consistent and the product is ready for customers and collectors. The same care is taken with the packaging design. The results of this collective effort among the team is an aviation keepsake that will live on for decades to come.
The North American T-28C Trojan PlaneTags are numbered to 5,000, a limited edition. The colors available are:
With most releases, combination colors tend to sell out within hours because there are not as many, and they are also more unusual than solid colors for the most part. However, all PlaneTags are unique - they are individually numbered and they each have characteristics like dents, scratches, scrapes, oxidation and the wear and tear you might expect from an aircraft that had an active life. Although #140597 isn’t able to speak for itself, Hall hopes that he and the team can give it a voice and tell some of its tale. For more information on T-28C Trojan PlaneTags, see www.planetags.com.