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The T-6 Texan, known as the Harvard in British and Canadian service, was a wartime single engine advanced trainer developed by North American Aviation. It is a testament to its abilities that the final Harvard on the British military register was not retired until 2016. Over 65 nations operated the Texan as a primary trainer however some also used the T-6 for close air support ad ground attack missions including the RAF who used the Harvard against the Mau Mau in Kenya during the 1950s.
The Royal Canadian Air Force initially operated US built Texans from 1939 with 1200 eventually being delivered until licence-built production facilities began to deliver the Harvar Mk.II in 1941. Over 2800 Mk.II Harvards were built for the RCAF and RAF during the war, equipping 15 training squadrons throughout Canada. At the end of the war most aircraft were sold off only to find that large numbers of training aircraft were once again needed to train pilots for the Cold War. To fill this requirement, 100 T-6J Texans were leased from the USAF whilst 270 Mk.IV Harvards were built by Canadian Car & Foundry. The Italian Air Force operated the Texan between 1949 and 1979, eventually operating a total of 238 examples. The aircraft was used for flight training and was acquired to modernise their forces after the war. The type was eventually replaced by the MB-326 when the Italian Air Force moved to jet aircraft as their primary and advanced trainers.
Harvard MK.IV D-FAME owned by Flying Legends GmbH will be appearing on static at this year's Air Tattoo. D-FAME was built in 1952 and served with the Royal Canadian Air Force until 1968 with the serial number RCAF 20286. In addition, a pair of T-6 Texans will be appearing on static display at this year's Air Tattoo as part of our celebration of the Italian Air Force centenary.
Photo Credit: Luigino Caliaro