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US Air Force T-38 Trainer Jets

US Air Force T-38 Trainer Jets

The T38 is a supersonic two-seater jet training aircraft and is characterized by being the first supersonic training aircraft globally. It is operated by the US Air Force and used by NASA for astronaut training and by the US Military.

It is also used by the US Navy at the Naval Pilots' School in Maryland, and by pilots of other nationalities who through NATO conduct training programs in conjunction with the US Air Force,

In the mid-50s, the need for a supersonic aircraft for military training was determined and the Air Force made this requirement thinking of replacing the T33, so the Northrop Grumman aerospace corporation received the order to present three prototypes of the aircraft, the first being the YT38.

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The configuration of this supersonic has a small wing and a long rope, with only a vertical stabilizer, and with a tricycle landing gear, it incorporates air intakes that go to its two turbojet engines, the peculiarities of agility that presents this model of aircraft made it worthy of the nickname white rocket.

Characteristics of the T-38 Trainer

  • Two-man crew, one instructor and one student
  • Length of 14,14 m
  • The wingspan of 7.70 m
  • Height of 3.92 m
  • The wing area of 16 m²
  • Empty weight 3270 kg
  • 3,360 kg loaded weight
  • Maximum take-off weight of 5670 kg
  • Propulsion of 2 × General Electric J85-5A turbojet
  • Speed of 1381 km/h Mach1.3
  • Range of 1560 km
  • Range by ferry 2348 km
  • Flight ceiling of 15 240 m
  • Increase of 170.7 m/s 33 600
  • Wing load 340 kg/m²
  • Armament of  1 Anchor point with 230 kg, to load 7 practice rockets in the container located at the bottom of the fuselage

Facts about the T-38

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  • He made his first flight on March 10, 1959
  • The first copies of the T38 Trainer were delivered in 1961
  • They entered into service in March 1961
  • In March 1961 this plane is used to complement the military training that was done with other primary jet planes
  •  The T-38 imposed time records in 1962, among these marks was the ascent to 3000, 6000, 9000, and 12 000 meters, achieving the marks imposed by the F-104 in 1958
  • The first accident of a T-38 occurs in February 1962, near Webb AFB, in Texas, where the pilot died
  • A bird crashed with a T-38 in the service of NASA on October 31, 1964, killing astronaut Theodore Freeman 
  • Some 504 T-38s in the US Air Force have survived for a long time and a good number in different Air Forces around the world.
  • At present, more than 50 thousand military pilots have received training in this wonderful aircraft.
  • Between 1974 and 1983, the Thunderbirds US Air Force aerobatic team chose to use the T-38s because of the fuel savings compared to the F-4 Phantoms they used

The T-38 has served to teach techniques to high supersonic speeds, acrobatics, and training in night flight by instrumentation and navigation to novice pilots in the United States, and even in 2020 the T-38 still remains in service, with more than 50 years in operation and its replacement planned for 2023.

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