The T-37 is a twin-engine primary trainer used for teaching the fundamentals of jet aircraft operation and instrument, formation and night flying. Affectionately known as the "Tweety Bird" or "Tweet," it was the first USAF jet aircraft designed from conception as a trainer (as opposed to a modification such as the T-33). Its flying characteristics helped student pilots prepare to transition to the larger, faster T-38 "Talon" later in the pilot training program. Side-by-side seating in the T-37 makes it easier for the instructor to observe and communicate with the student. The XT-37 prototype made its initial flight on October 12, 1954, and the preproduction T-37A first flew on September 27, 1955. Following modifications, the T-37A entered operational USAF service in 1957. In 1959, the T-37B joined the USAF. Similar to the -A, it had more powerful engines, a redesigned instrument panel and improved radio communications and navigational equipment. In time, all -As were modified to -B standards. The T-37C, with provisions for armament and extra fuel, was built for export. Both T-37Bs and -Cs serve the air forces of several Allied nations. In all, nearly 1,300 T-37As, -Bs and -Cs were built before production ended in the late 1970s. In addition, nearly 600 A-37s--attack modifications of the T-37--were built. This aircraft is on loan from the USAF.
According to the Air Force Historical Research Agency (AFHRA/RSA), Maxwell AFB, AL, the museum's T-37B, s/n 57-2316, has the following history:
- Manufactured as a model 318 by Cessna Aircraft, Wichita KS and delivered to the USAF on 1 Dec 1958.
- Dec 1958 --- To 3303rd Pilot Training Group (Air Training Command), Bartow AFB FL
- Jan 1961 --- To 3560th Pilot Training Wing (ATC), Webb AFB TX
- Jan 1966 --- To 3640th Pilot Training Wing (ATC), Laredo AFB TX
- Feb 1971 --- To 3560th Pilot Training Wing (ATC), Webb AFB
- Nov 1972 --- To 78th Flying Training Wing (ATC), Webb AFB
- Aug 1977 --- To 64th Flying Training Wing (ATC), Reese AFB TX
- Sep 1991 --- To Military Aircraft Storage and Disposition Center, Davis-Monthan AFB AZ. Aircraft arrived on 13 Sept 1991 and was retired with 16,792 airframe flours.
- Sept 2001 --- Both engines, Continental J69-T-25's, were removed on 17 Sept 2001.
- Oct 2001 --- The T-37B, s/n 57-2316, was delivered to the museum. March Field Museum volunteers went to Tucson, AZ, where the aircraft was waiting at the Pima Air Museum. There, it was disassembled and put on a truck and brought to our museum.
- Nov 2002 to Nov 2003 --- Restoration and improvements in the cockpit and exterior by museum volunteers Craig Clary and Bob Mauger.
By kjfitz @ 2007-03-15 22:48:03