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Artifact Friday: North American T-2 Buckeye

This Friday, we are highlighting one of our trainer jets!


North American was made famous with its P-51 Mustang fighter aircraft, and it continued to produce airplanes for the military into the 1950s. In 1956 the US Navy began requiring jet aircraft for training and combat.

They put out bids for designs and North American won with the introduction of the NA-241 trainer design.

It was a mid-winged monoplane with two tandem seats and powered by a Westinghouse turbojet. The US Navy designated it as the T2J-1. It was also created with spots for two .50-inch gun pods, 100 lbs. of practice bombs, or two .75-inch rocket pods.

The two seats were for the trainer and the trainee. In fact, the trainer’s seat sat a little higher than the trainee’s seat, so that the trainer could observe the trainee’s actions better.

T2s were manufactured in Columbus, Ohio which is why these aircraft were nicknamed the “Buckeye”. “Buckeye” is the state tree of Ohio as well as the mascot of Ohio State University.

The T2J-1 first flew in 1958 and was introduced shortly after to the Naval Station at Meridian, Mississippi where it trained with VT-7 and VT-9.

The T-2A advanced to the T-2B and T-2C which added two turbojets to give it more power.

These aircraft trained every U.S. Navy pilot until 2004 when the T-2 was retired from U.S. military service. The “Buckeye” was replaced in the Navy by the T-45 Goshawk which is equal in power to the U.S. Air Force’s T-38 Talon.

The remainder of the T-2s were either scrapped, sent to foreign militaries, or restored and displayed in museums.

This T-2 was rehomed to the U.S. Naval Station at Pensacola, Florida, and stayed there until we received it a few years ago.

This T-2C was stationed in Kingsville, Texas for a time and assigned to VT-23 (a training squadron). It participated in training maneuvers on the USS Forrestal carrier which was the first aircraft carrier built to launch military jets.


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