The North American Aviation T-28 Trojan is a piston-engined military trainer aircraft used by the United States Air Force and United States Navy beginning in the 1950s. Besides its use as a trainer, the T-28 was successfully employed as a counter-insurgency aircraft, primarily during the Vietnam War. It has continued in civilian use as an aerobatics and Warbird performer.
On September 24, 1949, the XT-28 (company designation NA-159) was flown for the first time, designed to replace the T-6 Texan. The T-28A arrived at the Air Proving Ground, Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, in mid-June 1950, for suitability tests as an advanced trainer by the 3200th Fighter Test Squadron, with consideration given to its transition, instrument, and gunnery capabilities. Found satisfactory, a contract was issued and between 1950 and 1957, a total of 1,948 were built.
Following the T-28's withdrawal from U.S. military service, a number were remanufactured by Hamilton Aircraft into two versions called the Nomair. The first refurbished machines, designated T-28R-1 were similar to the standard T-28s they were adapted from, and were supplied to the Brazilian Navy. Later, a more ambitious conversion was undertaken as the T-28R-2, which transformed the two-seat tandem aircraft into a five-seat cabin monoplane for general aviation use. Other civil conversions of ex-military T-28As were undertaken by PacAero as the Nomad Mark I and Nomad Mark II
After becoming adopted as a primary trainer by the USAF, the United States Navy and Marine Corps adopted it as well. Although the Air Force phased out the aircraft from primary pilot training by the early 1960s, continuing use only for limited training of special operations aircrews and for primary training of select foreign military personnel, the aircraft continued to be used as a primary trainer by the Navy (and by default, the Marine Corps and Coast Guard) well into the early 1980s.
The largest single concentration of this aircraft was employed by the U.S. Navy at Naval Air Station Whiting Field in Milton, Florida, in the training of student naval aviators. The T-28's service career in the U.S. military ended with the completion of the phase-in of the T-34C turboprop trainer. The last U.S. Navy training squadron to fly the T-28 was VT-27 “Boomers”, based at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, Texas, flying the last T-28 training flight in early 1984. The last T-28 in the Training Command, BuNo 137796, departed for Naval District Washington on 14 March 1984 to be displayed permanently at Naval Support Facility Anacostia, D.C.[
In 1963, a Royal Lao Air Force T-28 piloted by Lieutenant Chert Saibory, a Thai national, defected to North Vietnam. Saibory was immediately imprisoned and his aircraft was impounded. Within six months the T-28 was refurbished and commissioned into the North Vietnamese Air Force as its first fighter aircraft.
T-28s were supplied to the Republic of Vietnam Air Force in support of ARVN ground operations, seeing extensive service during the Vietnam War in VNAF hands, as well as the Secret War in Laos. A T-28 Trojan was the first US fixed wing attack aircraft (non-transport type) lost in South Vietnam, during the Vietnam War. Capt. Robert L. Simpson, USAF, Detachment 2A, 1st Air Commando Group, and Lt. Hoa, SVNAF, were shot down by ground fire on August 28, 1962 while flying close air support. Neither crewman survived. The USAF lost 23 T-28s to all causes during the war, with the last two losses occurring in 1968.
T-28s were used by the CIA in the former Belgian Congo during the 1960s.
France's Armée de l'Air used locally re-manufactured Trojans for close support missions in Algeria.
Nicaragua replaced its fleet of 30+ ex Sweden P-51s with T-28s in the early 1960s.
The Philippines utilized T-28s (colloquially known as "Tora-toras") during the 1989 Philippine coup attempt. The aircraft were often deployed as dive bombers by rebel forces.
AeroVironment modified and armored a T-28A to fly weather research for South Dakota School of Mines & Technology, funded by the National Science Foundation, and operated in this capacity from 1969 to 2005. SDSM&T is currently planning to replace it with another modified, but more modern, former military aircraft, specifically a Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II.
Many retired T-28s were subsequently sold to private civil operators, and due to their reasonable operating costs are often found flying or displayed as warbirds today.
On Saturday, September 17, 2011 at about 14:40 EDT, a civilian-owned Trojan belonging to the T-28 Warbird Aerobatic Formation Demonstration Team, known as the Trojan Horsemen, was lost as they were performing during an air show hosted by the 167th Airlift Wing of the West Virginia Air National Guard at Shepherd Field in Martinsburg, West Virginia. Pilot Jack "Flash" Mangan, a businessman who had previously risen to the rank of Major in the USAF and had been awarded three Meritorious Service Medals as well as the Fighter Pilot of the Year Award in 1984, was killed on impact. The Trojan Horsemen team stood down, but temporarily resumed flying on November 11, 2011.
On Sunday, July 17, 2016 at approximately 14:00 MDT, a privately owned T-28B Trojan with Canadian registration C-GKKD performed what appeared to be a loop during an aerobatic routine at the 2016 CFB Cold Lake Air Show and plummeted nose-first into the ground. The aircraft, which had been manufactured in 1955 and was originally assigned to US Navy Squadron VT-27 “Boomers” with BuNo 138364, had retained its historic 1970s era US Navy white-and-orange training livery with identification number 706 and VT-27 on the fuselage and a capitalized letter D on the vertical stabilizer, and was destroyed on impact. Pilot Bruce Evans, an accomplished Warbird flier with over 4,100 hours of flight experience and president of Firefly Aviation, was killed instantly.
- U.S. Navy version, a T-28B with shortened propeller blades and tailhook for carrier-landing training; 266 built.