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T-38 Talon: Pilot Trainer and USAF Workhorse

December 10, 2020

The Northrop T-38 Talon is a supersonic jet that has been used by the USAF to train pilots for over half a century. This high performance jet trainer boasts an exceptional safety record, ease of maintenance and exceptional operating economy that has given it an enduring career, possibly into 2023. MotoArt is pleased to offer Northrop T-38 Talon PlaneTags.

T-38 Talon

T-38 Talon PlaneTags

 

The Northrop T-38 Talon is a twin jet supersonic jet trainer, and the world’s first supersonic trainer. The Talon has been in service with the United States Air Force for over 50 years, and is also used by NASA and other NATO nations in joint training programs with Air Force pilots. Since entering service over 50 years ago, more than 80,000 USAF pilots have been trained on the Talon. 1,200 were produced between 1961 and 1972, and several hundred are still in use by USAF and NASA.

Why is the Talon such a venerable aircraft? For many reasons. The T-38 is one of the safest supersonic airplanes ever built, with an exceptional safety record. It also can achieve flying speeds up to 858 mph and has the ability to climb from sea level to 33,600 ft in less than a minute. It has been used to prepare USAF pilots for other front line and bomber aircraft like the B-1B Lancer, F-15C Eagle, F-15C Strike Eagle, F-16 Fighting Falcon, F-22 Raptor and even the SR-71 Blackbird, among others. Continued improvements to the wing, avionics and engineering and its built in sustainment plan mean that it will most likely be in use until at least 2023.

Versatility

Talon PlaneTags

 

The Talon is extremely versatile. In addition to being used for pilot training, it serves as a workhorse for the USAF System Command. It is used for test support for test flight programs, test support aircraft, a high performance drone director, a flying laboratory for solving perplexing problems, for towing targets, transporting equipment, to test radar calibration, to test and train for passenger plane recovery procedures, and more.

 

Talon at a glance

T-38 Talon PlaneTags

  • Primary Function: Advanced jet pilot trainer
  • Builder: Northrop Corp.
  • Power Plant: Two General Electric J85-GE-5 turbojet engines with afterburners
  • Thrust: 2,050 pounds dry thrust; 2,900 with afterburners
  • Thrust (with PMP): 2,200 pounds dry thrust; 3,300 with afterburners
  • Length: 46 feet, 4 inches (14 meters)
  • Height: 12 feet, 10 inches (3.8 meters)
  • Wingspan: 25 feet, 3 inches (7.6 meters)
  • Speed: 812 mph (Mach 1.08 at sea level)
  • Ceiling: Above 55,000 feet (16,764 meters)
  • Maximum Takeoff Weight: 12,093 pounds (5,485 kilograms)
  • Range: 1,093 miles
  • Armament: T-38A/C: none; AT-38B: provisions for practice bomb dispenser
  • Unit Cost: $756,000 (1961 constant dollars)
  • Crew: Two, student and instructor
  • Date Deployed: March 1961

65-10454

T-38 MotoArt

Our plane was constructed in 1965 at Northrop in Hawthorne, California and began its career shortly after with the 12th Flying Training Wing at Randolph AFB in Texas. It served most of its career in this capacity until retirement in August 1993. It was then acquired by the Western Museum of Flight in Torrance, California.

65-10454

 

MotoArt’s T-38

MotoArt Studios

When MotoArt owner Dave Hall found out about the availability of the T-38 Talon he jumped at the opportunity to acquire it. “Having the opportunity to work with the Northrop T-38 Talon is an honor to us. Northrop Grumman is a neighbor of ours and we have had the opportunity to work together on several high-level speciality projects throughout the years,” says Hall. “This has been our first PlaneTag line representing one of their aircraft.”

Hall maintains a special fondness for the T-38 Talon. “This was also exciting because I have known so many pilots who have flown this including a member of my family. 30 years ago I was escorted off an Air Force Base for taking a photo of my cousin climbing out of his T-38 and they confiscated all my film!”

Dave Hall photo T-38 Talon

Photo courtesy of Dave Hall's archives

 

Creating T-38 PlaneTags

T-38 Talon PlaneTags

Getting every bit of aircraft skin from the jet was tricky but the team was prepared. The T-38 was carefully hand-cut into smaller sections. These smaller sections are lightweight and easier to handle during the manufacturing process. As with all PlaneTags, the authentic aircraft skin is not painted or added to in any way. They are stamped out by hand then polished and cleaned before etching and assembling. Any variations to the paint or any dings or dents are part of the aircraft and add to the uniqueness of each piece.

PlaneTags

 

T-38 Talon PlaneTags

 

The Talon PlaneTags come in the following colors: White and Blue/White combinations, and are numbered to 2,000. Each has been handcrafted - from the cutting, stamping, etching to assembling - with the care you can expect from the crew at PlaneTags.

 

PlaneTags In Time For The Holidays

PlaneTags can be yours in time for Christmas with our faster shipping options - including international shipping - and with the introduction of our PlaneTags Gift Cards. Put PlaneTags in your favorite avgeek’s stocking this year.

 

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