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Apr 9, 2005
Colorado, USA
There were many great trainers of WW2 - Stearman, Harvard, Texan, Tiger Moth, etc. Which was the best? We could split them up by primary and advanced but let's go for single engine with dual controls. LET THE GAMES BEGIN!

My vote - The Stearman...
I say AT-6/SNJ/Texan. Or an old P-40!
The Stearman was a fine aircraft but it wasn't the best as it was not as adaptable as the Tiger Moth or PT22 as it could not be winterized, a large amount of training for the Commonwealth was done in Canada under the BCATP about 133000 aircrew. The Stearman was only used for a 6mo period in Canada after which it was sent to the States to be used in more moderate climates. However all the other intial trainers were adaptable for winter flying . I am still looking for a clear pic of the RAF Stearman with the enclosed canopy for my Dad who worked on the winterization of the PT 17. My vote goes to the DH82 or the Fleet Finch
The fleet finch was one of the first aircraft to have a stepped cockpit, the instructor was slightly higher than the student so they got a better perspective of the situation.
it's between the T-6 and Tigermoth... bearing ing mind the tigermoth trained pretty much the entire commonwealth to fly and, like the T-6 i guess, is still teaching private pilots today........
The Tiger Moth was a good primary trainer, a little slow and underpowered. The T-6 brought students closer to higher performing aircraft and provided a similar cockpit perspective, but I heard could be a little squirrely when performing aerobatics. The Stearman provided (in my opinion) a mix of both. It was docile enough so a primary student could fly it with no problem, it had a lot of power and again gave the student a good cockpit perspective and it was a very good aerobatic aircraft.
I think it is actually rather obvious. The T-6 is the best trainer period of WW2.

You can not even put the Stearman or the Tigermoth into the same boat as the T-6. Biased or no Biased the Tigermoth does not have the same capabilities of the T-6 and neither does the Stearman. As FBJ put it primary and advnaced trainers.

Since we are going with single engine, dual controls only there is no comparison then and the T-6 wins.

My only complaint about the T-6 would be that it can get heavy on the controls at high speeds.

Now having said that though the T-6 was the best but the Stearman is my favorite and I hope to own one someday.
I flew an Stearman S2N with absolutely no previous flight experience. It flew like a PC flight simulator. It was honest and true in response and made it very easy to see how almost any boy just off the farm could be trained to fly.
Only once you learn the primary skills you can handle basic and advanced trainers.

That's me on the left.
'Baker Two Bits' turned out to be one of the best twin engined trainers at the end of the war, and well into the 1950's.
I haven't flown a Stearman...yet, but I have heard that they can ground loop if you aren't careful on landing. If things don't look right, go around again. I remember hearing that from someone about the Stearman.

I have flown teh T-6 and found it to be a pretty pleasant airplane to fly, although I didn't do anything too crazy with it. The design goes back to 1935, with the NA-16. I think most aircraft of that vintage were heavy on the controls at higher speed.
Back in the day when taildraggers were predominate, that was a major part of the training to keep the aircraft from ground looping. Because the T-6 was so much heavier I understand it was a bit more forgiving...
A buddy of mine owns a Stearman and I have gone up with him and I too found it a pleasure to fly and very easy with the controls.

I have not actually been on the controls of a T-6 but I have flown in one and my pilot (who also happened to be my A&P License Practical Examiner) told me that was a joy to fly and relatively easy but at higher speeds and in dives the controls could get pretty heavy.

He owned 2 Texans and 2 1941 Piper Cubs. Was pretty cool.
My grandfather once told me that he loved the Harvard. I believe he also did a short stint as an instructor pilot right after the war. Like the majority of Commonwealth pilots, he also got to fly the Tiger Moth, and he told me that he even did a part of his basic flight training in an old two-seater Nieuport!
Since I used to watch SNJs fly overhead in the 50s as a Navy primary trainer, I would have to vote for the T-6/SNJ, no contest.

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