Back in time with a US Navy T-6
In June 2023, I organized a photo shoot for the first time with a North American T-6 Texan warbird in US Navy colors and accompanying reenactors. This photo shoot took place at an old area of the Sint-Truiden Airport (EBST) which is home to the North American SNJ-5 Texan with registration N3286. This beautiful warbird was built in 1941 and was then assigned to the US Air Force with military registration 41-34154. It started its military life as an AT-6D at the 3028th Base Unit (pilot school) of Luke Field in Arizona after which it was transferred to Reese Air Force Base in Texas. The aircraft ended its military life in 1952 at Perrin Air Force Base, Texas after a landing accident. What happened to this T-6 in the following years is not really clear but in 1993 this aircraft suddenly appeared with a civilian registration and in August 1998 it was given the registration N3286 as a SNJ-5. At the 2002 EAA Air Venture at Oshkosh this aircraft won the award for the best T-6 in the warbird category. In 2021 this aircraft made its way to Belgium where it is owned by Lieven Buyse and Vincent Carpentier. Since its arrival in Belgium, this beautifully restored warbird has been seen at numerous fly-ins and air shows. During this photo shoot several scenarios were recreated with the reenactors where this US Navy T-6 was stationed on a tropical island in the Pacific Ocean. The presence of some beautiful vintage vehicles and the beautiful weather conditions made this photo shoot more than successful!
The North American Aviation T-6 Texan is a single-engined advanced trainer aircraft used to train American, British and Canadian pilots during World War II and pilots from dozens of other countries into the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. Designed by the American aerospace manufacturer North American Aviation (NAA), the T-6 is known by a variety of designations depending on the model and operating air force. While the United States Army Air Corps designated this aircraft as the AT-6, the version for the United States Navy was known as the SNJ. The name of this airplane by which it is best known outside the US is the Harvard, which was used by British and Commonwealth air forces. The T-6 today remains a very popular warbird at air shows and aviation meetings with old and vintage aircraft. This aircraft has also been used many times to simulate some historical airplanes such as the Japanese Mitsubishi A6M Zero. The first flight of a T-6 occurred in April 1935, and by 1995 the South African Air Force was the last air force to officially employ this type of aircraft. A total of more than 15,490 T-6s of all variants were built. In all, the T-6 trained several hundred thousand pilots in 34 different countries over a period of several decades.
The author and photographer would like to thank everyone who made this fantastic photo shoot possible!
Text & photos: Kris Christiaens