Loud Radial Engined Harvard Trainers Rumble Overhead
The New Zealand Warbirds Association was formed in 1978 as the Royal New Zealand Air Force was retiring its fleet of North American T-6 'Harvard' flight training aircraft.
NZ Warbirds was formed to serve as an organisation to facilitate a group of like-minded individuals to purchase and operate these ex-military aircraft.
During their time in the RNZAF, the Harvards were used for many years as the aircraft for the Air Force's aerobatic display team, 'The Red Checkers'.
Eventually the NZ Warbirds Assn gathered together a number of Harvard aircraft, enabling them to form their own T-6 based aerobatic team, 'The Roaring Forties'.
The Roaring Forties team are now the 'flag bearers' of New Zealand Warbirds, and this precision aerobatics team has been seen at air shows right across New Zealand and occasionally in Australia too!
The RNZAF operated a total of 202 Harvards between 1941-1977. During WW2 they were used for advanced pilot training (after pilots had completed initial training in Tiger Moths), but after the war they became the RNZAF's primary initial pilot training aircraft.
Outside of the British Commonwealth air forces, the North American Aviation T-6 aircraft was known as the 'AT-6' Texan by the United States Army Air Corps, and the USAAF, and as the 'SJN' by the US Navy.
Almost 15,500 examples of the Texan were built from April 1935 when the first prototype flew. The last T-6's in military service were retired by the South African Air Force in 1995.
These aircraft are seen here at a Wings Over Wairarapa Airshow (now 'Air Festival') which has been held at Hood Aerodrome in Masterton (New Zealand) every two years, for over two decades.
For more details about the up and coming Air Festival, see: http://www.wings.org.nz
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