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
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.
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.
sources - acknowledgements :
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