The BT-9 is the USAAC operated version of the NA-16, a project financed by North American Aviation. The NA-16 prototype first flew in April 1935, and straight away showed astonishing capabilities, close to those of front line combat fighters. It was immediately put into production as the BT-9, and the USAAC (US Army Air Corps) received its first plane in April 1936. A total of 226 BT-9s were delivered to the USAAC, in three different blocks, A, B and C. Its tandem two seat cockpit made the plane an excellent training platform for instructors and student pilots. The US Navy took delivery of 40 aircraft and designated them NJ-1, with a Pratt & Whitney R-1340 Wasp radial 600hp(447kW) engine, instead of the Wright 400hp engine. North American Aviation then started the production of the BT-14, with a steel fuselage and a more powerful Wright R-985 450hp (336kW) engine. 251 of them were built for the USAAC, and several planes were sold to foreign countries, like France which bought 230 NA-57s. When the armistice was signed with Germany at the end of the Campaign of France in June 1940, 119 planes that had not been delivered yet were delivered to Canada and the UK and renamed Yale I.

NA-57P2 N°105 seen at Hyères after the ceasefire of June 1940. (Coll. L. Morareau)

The French Naval Aviation used, as soon as 1939, 32 (30 from the first order and 2 more delivered in May) NA-57P2s with Wright R-985-11 450hp engine, and used them for training and liaisons. They were used in particular by the Advanced Flying School, previously the aircraft carrier Béarn’s utility squadron (No.101, 102, 103, 104, 105, 106, 107, 108, 109, 110, 119, 120, 121, 122, 123). This squadron received its first planes in the beginning of 1940 at NAS Lanvéoc-Poulmic.

On June 25th , a handfull of aircraft managed to escape to south-eastern France (specially to
Hyères), but a dozen have to be abandonned because of the German progress.
The Section d'Entraînement et Servitudes de Cherbourg (Cherbourg Training and Utility Section/ code CB), based on the Cherbourg-Querqueville airfield, used aircraft No. 112, 114 and another unidentified plane. The Section de Liaison et d'Entraînement de Chartres (Chartres Training and Liaisons Section) used NA-57s No. 121 and 122. The Section d'Entraînement et de Servitudes de Brest (Brest Training and Utility Section/ code BR) used No. 127 and another unidentified plane. The Section de Servitudes de Marignane (Marignane Utility Section) used planes No. 115, 116, 124 and another unidentified plane. It was in charge of training Reserve pilots.

NA-57P2 n°127 crashed on June 23rd 1940. (Coll. L. Morareau)

The Section de Servitudes et d'Entraînement d'Hyères (Hyères Training and Utility Section) used from March 1940 onwards, NA-57s No. 117, 118, 122, 124 and 125 to prepare student pilots for Air Combat school. Finally the Service de Convoyage, Liaison et Entraînement (Liaisons and Training Service) used No. 111 and two other unidentified planes for liaison and transport missions.

NA-57P2 n°112 seen at Cherbourg-Lessay. (Coll. R Feuilloy)

After the 1940 armistice, 10 planes were sabotaged, 3 were lost in unknown circumstances and only one was lost in an accident. Only 18 planes are operationnal on May 25th 1940. 2 planes are warehoused in Africa, and will fly again with the
51.S flight based in Khourigba until 1946-47. The main ways to tell the NA-57 and its cousin the SNJ apart are the fixed landing gear and the wheels.


27 ft 7 in
7. 69 m
42 ft 0 in
10. 21 m
13 ft 7 in
3. 12 m
3 314 lb (empty)/ 4 471 lb (full)
592 kg (empty)/ 975 kg (full)
170 mph
167 km/ h
882 miles
3 h 45 min
450 hp
96 kW

sources - acknowledgements :
Lucien Morareau
Hors Série N°1 L'Aéronautique Navale Française de septembre 1939 à juin 1940 par Lucien Morareau - LELA Editions.


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