The T-28
A brief history

The T-28 was born out of a need by the Air Force to replace its aging AT6 trainer. The design competition ultimately produced the T-28A and was built by North American Aviation. North American had already proven it's self with airplanes such as the B-25, the AT6 and the illustrious P-51. The first T-28A began service in April of 1950. The Air Force retired all but a handful of its T-28A's by 1956 as they moved to an all jet training syllabus. The T-28A was powered by a Wright R-1300-1 seven cylinder radial engine and produced 800 horsepower. The Air Force T-28A also used a 2 blade prop. They purchased a total of 1194 T-28A's given their service life of just 7 years it appears as though they hardly got their money's worth. There was a brief attempt by the Air Force to build a turbo prop version of the T-28, the YAT-28.

The first one crashed and subsequently they ordered two more. The program was however dropped after only three being built. Only one still exists today, and is in a stage of restoration, owned by CJ Aircraft Sales at Oxnard Airport in California.

The Navy was also sorely in need of a replacement for its SNJ trainer, the Navy's version of the AT6. The Navy ordered two T-28A's for evaluation in 1952. In typical fashion the Navy demanded a more robust and more powerful aircraft. Thus was born the T-28B. The first T-28B was delivered to the Navy April 6 1953, it incorporated a 9 cylinder Lycoming developing 1425 horsepower. It also included a speed brake and a 3 blade constant speed propeller. The Navy took delivery of a total of 489 T-28B's.

The color scheme used by the Navy from 1953 to 1960 was basically chrome yellow (see paint) as its predecessor the SNJ and its predecessor the N3N & PT-17. Post war flight training by the Navy was fragmented and various segments of the training syllabus were at different Naval Air Stations throughout the country. A number of variations of chrome yellow paint scheme were present at different training commands.

The T-28 first appeared at Whiting Field in 1956 to augment basic flight training in the T-34. In the same year the T-34's began their transfer to Saufley Field. By 1957 all training aircraft at Whiting Field were T-28's. The training squadron designations from 1956 to 1960 were BTG-2 (Basic Training Group), BTG-3, and BTG-6. By the end of 1957 the tail codes for these squadrons were 2G, 2W, and 2P respectively. On February 12, 1959 the Navy officially changed the color scheme of all training aircraft to a basic white and red trim (see paint) on the horizontal stabilizer, cowl area and wings. This fundamental color scheme still exists today. One thing for certain is that in the life of a single T-28 Bureau Number it underwent many paint and marking changes during its service life. (See profile page)

Both VT-2 and VT-3 often placed its squadron patch on the cowl of the aircraft. As seen below in this photo of a late 60s early 70s view of a VT-3 aircraft.

On September 19, 1955 first flight of a T-28C was made. This was a carrier capable version and had a tail hook, stronger landing gear and a shorter, wider prop. The Navy purchased a total of 299 T-28C's most of which went to squadrons whose mission was Carrier qualifications such as VT-5. The T-28 was not used very long as a Carrier qualification aircraft and subsequently the tail hooks were wired up and they were sent to Whiting Field to augment the existing fleet of basic trainers. It was not uncommon to see a T-28C with a T-28B prop on it as the smaller prop was intended for Carrier use and the Carrier capability had been disabled.

In 1960 the naval flight training program saw a major reorganization in naval aviation flight training. On 1 May 1960, BTG-2 (Basic Training Group), BTG-3, and BTG-6 were re-designated VT-2, VT-3, and VT-6 respectively, the tail codes remained 2G, 2W, and 2P respectively. VT-2 and VT-6 were located at North Field; VT-3 at South Field. By the end of 1960 over 50% of all T-28B's and C's purchased by the Navy (489+299) were located at Whiting Field, by far the single largest concentration of T-28's. The balance were scattered all over the US at various Naval Air Stations.VT-2 North Field

The historic significance of the above information to the modeler is to identify the paint scheme, tail codes, and squadrons utilized on the T-28. There seems to be an incessant desire to produce models with a unique color schemes. In so doing the most common color schemes and markings become the most uncommon. While many of the rare color schemes and markings of some of the more obscure squadrons might be appealing, focusing on the more common may well serve the modeler well by providing more availability of documentation.

Since scale model aircraft judging is not based on the accuracy to the real airplane but to the documentation supplied to the judge, considerable authenticity can be lost. It is unfortunate that in scale competition there is not a class that is judged as most accurate to the actual aircraft as opposed to self made documentation.

Since this site is dedicated to Hal H and this is a history of the T-28, what could be more fitting than this picture taken in 1957 at South Whiting Field of Hal H sitting in 302, Bureau Number 138116

On April 12, 2010 I received an email from Lieutenant Commander Mike Louy USN, Ret. Regarding this site and the venerable T-28. I obtained permission from Commander Louy to make the email a part of this site as it contains wonderful insight to the airplane and the training command of VT-2.

I was not sure where exactly to put it and realized what he states in his email is and will be a part of the history of the T-28 so it is my honor to include it in "T-28 history". Commander Louy I salute you and thank you for your service to our Country and the Navy.

Hello Dave,

A good friend of mine sent me your link. I am totally impressed with your work. Why? Well I was a flight instructor in VT-2 from May 1968 until May 1971. In that time I flew about 1800 accident-free hours, almost 850 of those hours in "my own" Bravo model BUNO 138289. It was the custom in the squadron to assign a particular aircraft to the more senior instructors in Unit One TPA (transition, precision, and acrobatics). The last half of my tour was as the Unit One leader. As I remember (since I had to write their fitness reports) I had about 65 instructors (both Navy and Marine) in my unit. That is about the size of two present-day VT squadrons.

Dave, while I was in VT-2, if you weren't scheduled to fly a student, you could just go to the East Line Shack and sign your plane out and go fly and practice. Occasionally on a Saturday I would get my plane and another guy would get his, and we would go out to the L-4 area north of Whiting and practice acrobatics in formation. Then we would climb to 10,000, separate then dog fight down to 5,000 ft. We would do that over and over again. What fun. After a couple of hours and totally drenched in sweat and with the low fuel light on, we would head back to Whiting.

The gas we were using was 115/145 which would allow us to use 52.5 inches of manifold pressure (5 min max). Plenty of power. My side number was 2W 251 and my buddyıs was 2W 241. His aircraft was actually an "Alpha conversion". It started life as an Air Force aircraft then with a puny little engine. Once converted with the R-1820 it was the fastest of all the T-28s. The "A" conversions were about 200-400 lbs. lighter than the "B" models which were about 400 lbs. lighter than the "C" carrier configured T-28s. Students were normally issued "C" models for their solo flights, although sometimes they would get an available "B" model. By the way, my plane was only one of two or three with TACAN. Normal cruise power setting was 2000 rpm, 27" MAP, which would give 170 kts. That is what a "B" would do. The "A" version used about 25" MAP, and the "C" model needed almost 29" MAP for 170 kts. Many of the aircraft were "bent" in that in order to make them fly straight, you had to trim the ball out slightly to the right or left. They were bent due to hard landings, numerous spins, and other flight training experiences.

Dave, one mark of a "shit hot" T-28 pilot was the ability to make the speed brake really sing out when in the break at home field. Some guys just never learned the technique. However those who did could just about get every one's attention on the ground when they did it. It was usually the TPA guys who could do it. Here is how it was done.

Coming into the break, roll smartly into a 45 degree angle of bank while simultaneously reducing the power to 20" MAP and hit the speed brake switch on top of the throttle. Just as the brake starts down, pull a couple of inches of back stick smartly (just momentarily so you don't climb, even at that angle of bank). Loading the speed brake with the G would make her scream. The normal AOB for the break was 30 degrees, particularly for formation flying.

As I remember, one of the aileron trim tabs was adjustable and the other was fixed. I seem to remember that the left one was trimable. The other fixed, but with a serrated plate so it would boost or de-boost the controls in roll. Those aircraft that were used for TPA were set for more boost making the aircraft easier to roll. The aircraft used for instrument flying were de-boosted making them much more stable for instrument flying. I talked to the LPO in the Airframes Shop about setting my tab for the MOST boost. I would caution my students to be mindful of their lateral stick movements as they would end up with at least 5 degrees AOB in a heartbeat. Although the aileron roll was not part of the TPA syllabus, it was quite easy to do if you knew how. Unfortunately, the instrument instructors who didn't do acrobatics would feel compelled to do a roll while in the entry channel on the way home. The altitude was 1200 agl. One fellow did his particularly poorly and while inverted pulled back stick to recover without keeping full aileron in and just augured into the ground with his student. Not fair for the student!!!

I forgot to mention that I was again an instructor in VT-2 in 1982 1984 in the T-34C. Reasonably good aircraft, but not nearly as much fun as MY 2W 251.


Mike Louy LCDR, USN, Ret. Pensacola