The aircraft for today was known by the name North American T-2 Buckeye which was the intermediate training aircraft which was used by the United States navy and the United States Marine Corps. The purpose intended for the North American T-2 Buckeye was to introduce the naval flight students and the naval flight officer students to the jet aircraft. The aircraft entered the service of US Navy back in 1959 and it exited the service back in 2008 when the US Navy was introduced with a new training aircraft named McDonnell Douglas T-45 Goshawk. The aircraft completed nearly 4 decades of exceptional service and is still in limited use of US Navy as the director aircraft for the aerial drones.
Many of the North American T-2 Buckeye aircraft still retain their US markings but are also registered as the civilian owned jet aircraft. These privately owned civilian North American T-2 Buckeye aircraft still make their appearance these days in the airshows.
Reasons for development of North American T-2 Buckeye:-
The origin of the North American T-2 Buckeye arises from the need of a trainer aircraft with low operational and
aintenance cost for being a multistage aircraft. The aircraft had straight wings which were most similar to that of the ones used for the aircraft named FJ-1 Fury while the cockpit controls of the aircraft were similar to another propeller driven aircraft named T-28C Trojan. As for the performance of the North American T-2 Buckeye, it was somewhere in-between comparison of the USAF’s Cessna T-37 Tweet and the US Navy’s other trainer aircraft named TA-4J Skyhawk. The North American T-2 Buckeye was built with an intention to replace the aging fleet of the T2V-1/T-1A SeaStar aircraft, which still served until late 1970s.
Although the North American T-2 Buckeye was built without any armaments, the aircraft was still able to accommodate the 2 .50-inch machine gun pods as well as capability of carrying 45 kg worth of practice bomb payload or the 2.75-inch rockets under its wings.
Origin of the name “Buckeye” in aircraft’s name:-
The production of nearly all of the North American T-2 Buckeye aircraft in its variant forms was carried out by the North American, the aircraft manufacturing company. The manufacturing plant was located at the Air Force Plant 85, which is located south of the Port Columbus Airport located in Columbus, Ohio. The designation of “Buckeye” in the aircraft name North American T-2 Buckeye stands as a reference to the state tree of the Ohio; the Ohio Buckeye or also known as American Buckeye. Other than that this Buckeye designation in aircraft’s name is also a reference to the mascot of the Ohio State University.
The origin of the North American T-2 Buckeye’s design comes from the design of the North American’s other aircraft named FJ-1 Fury. The North American T-2 Buckeye retained the straight wing design of its predecessor aircraft in it official design with the seating of the trainer and student being in a tandem arrangement. This seating was made well forward in aircraft’s fuselage. As for the aircraft’s 2 turbojet engines, they were placed under the aircraft’s fuselage, which were then fed with 2 intakes on aircraft’s either sides.
The nose cone section of the North American T-2 Buckeye was a distinct narrow type with the tail featuring the simple rudder and the tail plane arrangement. As for the undercarriage of the aircraft, the main landing gear of the aircraft would recess into underside of the aircraft’s wings while the nose wheel retracted forward in the nose section.
Powerplant & Performance of North American T-2 Buckeye:-
Power to the North American T-2 Buckeye was delivered by twin General Electric J85-GE-4 turbojet engines; each of which would deliver a thrust of 2950lbs. this much power was enough to allow aircraft attain a top speed of 518 mph. as for the maximum range of the aircraft, it was about 919 miles while the service ceiling was 45000 feet.
The North American T-2 Buckeye was not built without any in-built armaments but it still supported the provision for the training armaments for the training naval flight officers. For the training purposes, the North American T-2 Buckeye could be equipped with following armaments.
- 2 of the 100 lbs each practice bombs
- 2 of the 12.7mm machine gun pods
- 2 of the 7.5-inch rocket pods
Flown by every Naval Flight Officer:-
The North American T-2 Buckeye holds a very unique title to its name. The aircraft since entering he service in late 1950s till the time it existed service in 2004, nearly every jet-qualified Naval Aviator as well as the Naval Flight Officer of US Navy had received some form of training on the North American T-2 Buckeye. This marks one of the longest service time for any training aircraft of US navy as the service spans to an astounding 4 decades for any aircraft built back in the late 1950s.
The very first original aircraft model that entered service of US Navy was T2J-1 back in 1959. The aircraft was then redesignated by the navy as T-2A back in 1962 under the navy’s Joint Aircraft Designation System. This original mole of the North American T-2 Buckeye was powered with a single Westinghouse J34-WE-46/48 turbojet engine. However, redesigning was carried out with the single engine replaced with twin Pratt & Whitney J60-P-6 turbojet engines. This new model was named T-2B.
As for the variant named T-2C, it was fitted with the General Electric J85-GE-4 Turbojet engines and was the one that served the US Navy well until 2008 and is still in limited service in both civilian and military hands.
As for the models named T-2D and the T-2E, they were the export models for the following respective air forces.
- Venezuelan Air Force
- Hellenic Air Force
Total number of aircraft produced & Other Operators:-
Over the course of its serial production, nearly 529 of these aircraft were manufactured by the North American. These aircraft were mostly manufactured for use of US Navy but a few of them were exported to countries named Greek and Venezuela.
The North American T-2 Buckeye was ultimately replaced in its role by the near-sonic training jet aircraft named McDonnell Douglas T-45 Goshawk. This new aircraft was mu more capable than the supersonic or subsonic trainer aircraft of USAF like the Northrop T-38 Talon.
As for the current status of the North American T-2 Buckeye, it is still in limited use by the US Navy as it serves the role of a director aircraft for the aerial drones. Other than that, most of the existing North American T-2 Buckeye aircraft are owned by civilians in fly worthy conditions. These civilian owned aircraft make their appearances at many airshows.