The T-28 was a successful trainer used by the U.S. Air Force and Navy from the 1950s through the 1970s, being finally retired from the American services only in the 1980s. First flown September 24, 1949, it was built in numbers of 1,948 aircraft.
A “Trojan” is someone from the ancient civilization of Troy, a city-state in what is now Turkey that flourished in various incarnations from 3000 BC to 0 BC and has become renowned in legend for its prowess in warfare.
Although it did not have much of a payload, the performance of the T-28 made it useful as a ground-attack and counter-insurgency aircraft. In this capacity it was used mainly by the South Vietnamese Air Force and also by France, which developed a counter-insurgency version of the T-28 called the Fennec (a fennec is a small fox found in the north African desert) for use in policing its colonial possessions. About 25 other countries used T-28s in numbers ranging from a handful to a hundred or two. The last was retired by the Phillippines in 1994.
The T-28 is a very popular privately owned warbird although it is complex to restore and maintain because it is essentially jet-age technology despite having a piston engine. The North American Trainers Association, a valuable resource on the type, estimates 250 to 300 of them still to be active. By far the best place to see them is at the Airventure event in Oshkosh each year. One of the attractive things about them from a spectator’s viewpoint is the variety of bright color schemes applied to them over the years, nowadays augmented by fanciful colors applied by the more creative owners. Their engines make a distinctive chugging sound that often invites comparison by airshow announcers with a clothes washing machine. At least one airshow display team, the Trojan Horseman, participates in airshows around the United States performing formation aerobatics in T-28s.
The A model of T-28 was built for the USAF. Although the T-28A accounted for the majority of all T-28s built (1,194 units), it was relatively quickly retired from active training service. T-28As had an 800 horsepower engine which was considered to be inadequate power for an airplane of this size. Some were converted into later models by the substitution of larger engines, effectively becoming T-28B or later models, and passed to the Navy. This can be seen the various T-28As preserved today. Possibly the oldest T-28 that survives is the National Museum of the USAF‘s T-28A, which is in original A model configuration with tapered cowling and two-bladed propeller.
Currently registerd NX1557A, this T-28 was at one time converted into a 5-seat enclosed cabin civilian transport called a Nomair, but has been returned to stock military configuration. It flies with a private owner in Minnesota.
This T-28 is displayed at the USAF Airman Heritage Museum.
Photographed at Oxnard, California, in 1988 just around the time it was first restored to airworthiness, this T-28 was registered N28NA. Later it went to Europe, where it has been broken down for a complete re-restoration. It was last reported in Switzerland.
This is an example of a T-28A that has been converted to a later version, in this case a T-28D, by installing a more powerful 1,425 horsepower engine. Visual cues are the less streamlined cowling shape and the three-bladed propeller. It is operated by the Military Aviation Museum.
These images show this T-28A, first in the 1970s plainted blue and registered N28RE, and then more recently registered N81643 in a fanciful but attractive pseudo-USAF paint scheme. It is registered to an owner in Reno, Nevada.
Shown at Oshkosh in the 1970s registered N5251V, this T-28A was painted in USAF Thunderbirds colors, although T-28s were never associated with the Thunderbirds. The plane appears still to be active and is listed with an Ohio owner.
This T-28 was converted to an AT-28D attack variant and supplied to the Dominican Republic in the 1960s or 1970s. Subsequently it was returned to the United States and is operated in USAF colors by a Tennessee owner. Its color scheme has changed from yellow to silver since this 1982 photo.
Registered N7289C, this T-28 showed up at Oshkosh in the 1970s painted in a hybrid Navy/Air Force scheme. The registration is not current and nobody seems to know what has happened to it.
This T-28 was a common sight at airshows in the midwest in the 1980s when owned by Dick Dieter, who flew it in a generally accurate U.S. Navy training scheme (except for the fact that the Navy didn’t use T-28As) with his initials “DD” as the tail code. It is still active with an owner in Delaware. Because the market for T-28s is limited, buyers will often acquire the best one that happens to be available when they are in the market, and will repaint it as a Navy airplane even if what they get is an Air Force variant.
This T-28A flew in the 1960s as N9862C and is photographed here in less-than-airworthy shape in the 1970s, but has since dropped out of sight. Its last recorded owner is in Oregon.
Now flying in Australia registered VH-VBT, this T-28A had worn registrations NX3336G and NX221LH during its civilian flying career in the U.S. At one point during that career, the plane was reportedly stolen and flown to Haiti, where the culprits were arrested and the aircraft presumably returned to the U.S. It is painted in what looks like accurate South Vietnamese Air Force colors.
Registered N9640C, this T-28 is shown in the 1970s at the Flying Tiger collection in Texas, but was later restored and made airworthy. In 1995 it was substantially destroyed in a forced landing in Indiana after a hydraulic line failed and set fire to the aircraft. Both occupants were seriously injured but survived. What is left of it is stored with Planes of Fame, probably for parts for other restorations.
Registered N28JD, this T-28 is displayed at the Dakota Territory Air Museum.
This T-28 went to France were it became Fennec No. 43, then to Morocco and was earmarked for Honduras (FAH 229) but not delivered. By the 1980s it was at Chino with collector David Tallichet, and it is shown here toward the end of the 1980s at the completion of restoration. N85228 is now in Idaho with the Warhawk Air Museum.
Modified to become Fennec No. 54, then supplied in turn to the French and Moroccan air forces, this T-28 found its way to Nicaragua where it served as serial 163 in the Sandanista air force in the 1980s. It ended up in Canada where it was restored in Victoria and given the civil registration C-FXRD and this imaginative paint scheme, which is actually a pretty accurate rendition of what T-28s might have looked like if they had ever served in the Royal Canadian Navy in the 1960s. After a stint in the U.S. as N521DF it is now back in Canada, still in these markings.
The yellow T-28 in this photo became Fennec No. 96, then later served in the air force of Haitias serial 1238. It became a private warbird in the United States in the early 1980s and is shown here during a brief period of Canadian ownership, registered C-GJMT, in 1987. Today it is N5015L and wears a gray paint scheme with a Montana owner.
This T-28 became Fennec No. 29, although in these photos from circa 1990 it was painted as Fennec No. 47. After leaving France, it has served in the Argentine Navy as 1-A-255. After being passed around among a few U.S. owners, registered N28FE, it has ended up with an owner is South Africa registered ZU-FAA.
Former Fennec No. 42 is seen here in British Columbia, Canada, after stints with the Moroccan Air Force and the Nicaraguan Sandanista regime. Registered C-GMWN, it reportedly still flies with a B.C. owner.
After its USAF service, T-28 N302NA served as a research aircraft at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration before finding its way to a private owner in Las Vegas, Nevada.
This is one of the T-28s supplied to France and rebuilt as a Fennec counter-insurgency aircraft. It was Fennec No. 104. Returned to the U.S. and registered N14141, it is shown here in a civilian scheme with a Wisconsin owner. This photo was taken quite a few years ago and I do not know its current status.
T-28 51-7632 is another Fennec, No. 1, the first production Fennec and the third Fennec to be built overall, there being two prototypes. This machine did stints with the French, Moroccan and Honduran air forces as an attack aircraft before returning to the United States. Registered N632NA, it now flies in accurate French desert camouflage.
Registered N3313G, this T-28 is owned by an individual in Michigan.
Registered N100JE, this T-28 was popular at airshows in the 1980s painted in the markings of the U.S. Navy Blue Angels, although no T-28 was associated with the Blue Angels or painted in this scheme. At last report it was with the Kalamazoo Aviation History Museum in Michigan.
Seen on a beautiful Chino winter day fresh out of surplus with its original Navy paint, this Trojan became N652AS and is listed with a North Carolina owner.
T-28 137657 shows off the standard U.S. Navy training paint scheme of white with red nose, tail fin and wingtips that was standard for Navy primary trainers during most of the T-28′s period of service. It appeared on different types of aircraft but looks especially good on the T-28. This one is marked as an aircraft of Training Squadron 2 in Milton, Florida. Registered N3250D, this plane is flown by a private owner in Florida.
Based in Farmingdale, Long Island, New York, this Navy T-28B is painted as an Air Force aircraft. Just as owners of T-28As sometimes paint them in Navy colors, owners desiring a USAF-marked T-28 will sometimes repaint a T-28B.
T-28 N128MD is owned by a group in southern California. It is in the markings of Training Squadron 6 based in Milton, Florida, in the 1960s and 1970s.
N2207Y is listed with an Oregon owner. Photographed in the early 1990s, it wears a faux Navy tail code consisting of the initials of its owner at that time.
Attractive T-28 N787AS is registered to a Nevada owner and is seen here participating in an event at Half Moon Bay near San Francisco.
Seen here when still in active service with training squadron VT-3 in the 1960s, this T-28 has survived and is currently registered N119RT to an owner in Illinois.
This T-28, registered N9060F, is seen here just after restoration, showing new sheet metal work and what is left of its real U.S. Navy service paint scheme. Since that time, it has been repainted in gray, somewhat fanciful USAF markings and is owned by a group of enthusiasts in Texas.
A pleasing sight on the Chino ramp in the early 1990s, N7044L was newly restored and headed for a series of American owners. It was last reported in Arizona, still painted yellow.
T-28 138224 was registered N628B with a Washington state owner. That owner was killed and the airplane destroyed in an accident in California in 1999.
N242J now lives in South Carolina and at last report, still carries this handsome and basically accurate NAS Pensacola paint scheme.
Virginia-based T-28 N65491 is nicely restored in Navy markings of squadron VA-122.
T-28 N555PF is with a New Jersey owner. The paint scheme is probably not accurate for a T-28 and appears designed to resemble that of a Navy fighter type.
Registered N223E with a Montana owner is this handsome white T-28 in the markings of El Centro Naval Air Station, a base used mainly as a weapons testing range in the inland California desert near the Mexico border.
T-28 N392 wears an attractive and reasonably accurate paint scheme, with the exception of the personal nose art, which would not have appeared on a Navy trainer of this era. It is with a Florida owner.
I’m not positive of the identity, but I think this T-28 may be 138325, now N2061Q, a T-28 modified to AT-28D attack configuration and supplied to the Phillippines air force. If so, it is now with a Georgia owner. It is shown in 2012 with an imaginary low-visibility U.S. Navy paint scheme, similar to what was worn (but not by T-28s) since the 1990s, and an unusual back-seat passenger who also appears to be mirrored in the nose art.
Registered N28XT, this T-28 is owned by Ralph Glasser of Illinois. Glasser and his plane are part of the Trojan Horsemen formation team, which performs airshow displays in T-28s.
Pictured in 1987 during a brief period of ownership by a Canadian who applied this completely fanciful RCAF paint scheme (although it is a fair rendition of how T-28s would have been painted had they ever served in the RCAF), C-FRZQ had previously served in Honduras as serial 228. It is now flying in Belgium as N343NA.
T-28 C-FPAB is registered to a Toronto owner. There were some overall navy blue T-28s in service, so the paint scheme is generally accurate. The “PB” tail code is a vanity marking, spelling the initials of a previous owner of the plane who applied the paint job.
This T-28, registered N91AW, is accurately painted in the markings of VT-27, stationed at Corpus Christi, Texas. It is based in Arizona.
Also in VT-27 markings is this Canadian registered T-28, C-GKKD, with an Alberta owner.
Several Retired T-28Bs
When I visited the National Naval Air Museum at Pensacola in 1983, about a dozen freshly retired T-28Bs were in the back yard awaiting disposal. I should have taken more than these three photos. Identifiable by serial numbers here are T-28s 137663, 137793, 138220, 138221, and 138292. All of them made it to the U.S. civil register as warbirds, being assigned the registrations N137NA, N815SH, N220NA, N221MS and N28FL respectively.
Victoria Air Maintenance, a British Columbia shop, has restored several T-28s. This one is registered C-FPTR and belongs to a British Columbia owner.
T-28 C-JFVW spent some time in Germany and Italy in the 1990s and 2000s, but is now in Canada.
Registered C-FMGI, but confusing also listed as registered N31NA in the United States to a Delaware owner, is this T-28. It previously served with the Honduran air force. The markings on the aircraft are of the Norwegian air force, which never operated T-28s.
T-28 N28UH is owned by Keith Baker of Missouri; hence the vanity codes on the tail. That inaccuracy notwithstanding, the plane has won several awards as an outstanding restoration.
A static display at Pima Air Museum, this T-28 is shown both before and after restoration. As can be seen, the museum diligently reproduced the aircraft’s original service paint scheme.
T-28 N4168H has been painted in handsome but inaccurate U.S. Navy fighter colors, simulating a supersonic jet such as a McDonnell-Douglas F-4.
Painted in the markings of training squadron VT-5, this T-28 was registered N128NJ. It was destroyed, fatally injuring California owner Bill Jones, in the same 1999 accident that also claimed T-28 138224 pictured above.
This T-28 formerly was a static display at the National Naval Aviation Museum in Florida, as shown here. More recently it has been sold into private hands and is flying with a Colorado owner, registered N140AG.
Based in Florida, this T-28 N28XC wears a pseudo-operational paint scheme based on the markings of U.S. Navy Attack Squadron VA-122, which actually flew Douglas A-4 and Vought A-7 jets.
Adorned with the marks of Navy Training Wing 5 in Florida, T-28 N462NA is with an Ohio owner.
Wearing an interesting gold-trimmed paint scheme, this T-28 has a history that includes a stint as a modified attack version serving with the air force of Zaire (serial FG-576). Returned to more peaceful configuration as N289RD, it is currently registered to a Wisconsin owner.
T-28 N688GR was destroyed in an airshow accident in 2011, killing its North Carolina owner.
Another nice T-28 out of the restoration shop at Victoria, BC, T-28 N28CV is with a Wyoming owner and flies in an attractive Naval Air Test Center paint scheme.
Flying out of Nevada and registered N528TC, this T-28 carries the ersatz markings of Marine fighter squadron VMF-323.
This is one of the T-28s remanufactured in to an AT-28D counterinsurgency attack variant, and supplied to Zaire’s air force for that purpose (serial FG-255). Returned to the U.S. as a warbird, it retained its attack modifications but was restored in the markings of the South Vietnamese Air Force, which used similarly modified T-28s as attack aircraft in the Vietnam War. It has worn several registrations but is currently listed to a Texas owner as N255NA.
This attractive T-28C is registered N28YM to a Florida corporation.
T-28 “Big Bird”
“Big Bird” is an attack-modified T-28 photographed in British Columbia. It also bears the name “Gopher” on its tail. I have not tracked down its identity.
Here is a gallery of other T-28s that I have not yet identified.