Hello Friends and Family,

Link to this year's index by clicking here.

Wings Over Miami Air Museum, Part 2

This is a AT6-D, similar to the AT6 trainers I shared last week. Built in 1944 in Dallas, TX, this aircraft was also known as "The Texan", "The Terrible Texan", "The J-Bird" and "The Harvard". Almost 20,000 were built and used by some 80 countries around the world. It has been said that fighters make movies, bombers make history but trainers make pilots.

This particular aircraft was used for training at various bases around the U.S. then later in Korea and Spain. During its last tour of duty, it was converted to a gunship before retiring in 1981. It was purchased privately and completely restored bringing it back to 1944 factory standards. It was painted in the color scheme of the 353rd Fighter Group, 350 Fighter Squadron based at Rayden, England in WWII.

From our WWII ally, this is a Soviet primary trainer aircraft, the Yakovlev Yak-52. It was used to train Soviet pilots for more than 50 years. The Yak-52, like most Soviet military aircraft, was designed to operate in rugged environments with minimal maintenance.

It is still being produced in Romania by Aerostar, which gained manufacturing rights under agreement within the now defunct COMECON socialist trade organization. The Yak-52 was designed originally as an aerobatic trainer for students in the Soviet DOSAAF training organization, which trained both civilian sport pilots and military pilots. At 998 kg (2,200 lb) empty weight, the Yak-52 is responsive and very capable as an aerobatic aircraft. Yet it is also easy to fly and land. It has been used in international aerobatic competition up to the Advanced level.

Of the approximately 1,800 produced to date, most now fly in the United States, United Kingdom, New Zealand, Australia and other western countries.

Here is another example of an AT6-D Texan, albeit with a different paint job. Nearly 2/3 of the Texans were of this, the NA-88 variety. They were dependable and durable plus easy to maintain and repair.


Still another similar trainer — this one began service in the Navy in Pensacola, FL. It was later shipped to Venezuala as part of a lend-lease agreement. It was purchased privately in 2000 at which time it was restored to flying condition.

The NA-50 was essentially a single-seat fighter version of the North American NA-26 two-seater trainer. Peru purchased seven NA-50s fitted with bomb racks and put them in service as fighter-bombers. Thailand purchased six NA-50s but prior to delivery aligned itself with Japan after the fall of France in World War II. The U.S. government seized the aircraft and changed the designation to NA-68.

Interesting. 15 kills of Japanese planes? Surprisingly there was no mention of that feat in the placard for this aircraft. Just for show? Who knows?

This aircraft is an Aero L29R Delfin (Dolphin) which was the accepted basic and advanced jet trainer for the Warsaw Pact. It was initially produced in 1963 with some 3,665 planes manufactured during the 12-year production run. The L29 is easy to fly, rugged and very dependable. It can operate from short runways, sand, grass and even waterlogged strips.

Odd to me — this does not look like any dolphin I am familiar with.

To be continued.


Life is good.

B. David

P. S., All photos and text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com