Fairchild PT-19 Cornell USAF.jpg
Fairchild PT-19
Role Trainer
Manufacturer Fairchild Aircraft
First flight 15 May 1939
Introduction 1940
Primary users United States Army Air Corps
United States Army Air Forces
Royal Canadian Air Force
Royal Air Force
Number built 7,700+

The Fairchild PT-19 (company designation Fairchild M62) is an American monoplane primary trainer aircraft that served with the United States Army Air Forces, RAF and RCAF during World War II. Designed by Fairchild Aircraft, it was a contemporary of the Kaydet biplane trainer, and was used by the USAAF during Primary Flying Training. As with other USAAF trainers of the period, the PT-19 had multiple designations based on the powerplant installed.

Design and development

The PT-19 series was developed from the Fairchild M-62 when the USAAC first ordered the aircraft in 1940 as part of its expansion program. The cantilever low-wing monoplane with fixed landing gear and tailwheel design was based on a two-place, tandem-seat, open cockpit arrangement. The simple but rugged construction included a fabric-covered welded steel tube fuselage. The remainder of the aircraft used plywood construction, with a plywood-sheathed center section, outer wing panels and tail assembly. The use of an inline engine allowed for a narrow frontal area which was ideal for visibility while the widely set-apart fixed landing gear allowed for solid and stable ground handling.

PT-19 plywood wing center section
PT-19 plywood wing center section
Fairchild PT-19
Fairchild PT-19
Fairchild PT-19B
Fairchild PT-19B
Fairchild Ranger L-440 engine
Fairchild Ranger L-440 engine
Commonwealth Forces cockpit, starboard side
Commonwealth Forces cockpit, starboard side
Commonwealth Forces cockpit, port side
Commonwealth Forces cockpit, port side

The M-62 first flew in May 1939 and won a fly-off competition later that year against 17 other designs for the new Army training airplane. Fairchild was awarded its first Army PT contract for an initial order on 22 September 1939.

The original production batch of 275 were powered by the inline 175 hp Ranger L-440-1 engine and designated the PT-19. In 1941, mass production began and 3,181 of the PT-19A model, powered by the 200 hp L-440-3, were made by Fairchild. An additional 477 were built by Aeronca and 44 by the St. Louis Aircraft Corporation. The PT-19B, of which 917 were built, was equipped for instrument flight training by attaching a collapsible hood to the front cockpit.

When a shortage of engines threatened production, the PT-23 model was introduced which was identical except for the 220 hp Continental R-670 radial powerplant. A total of 869 PT-23s were built as well as 256 of the PT-23A, which was the instrument flight-equipped version. The PT-23 was manufactured in the US by Fairchild, Aeronca, St. Louis Aircraft Corporation and Howard Aircraft Corporation and in Canada by Fleet Aircraft Corporation as well as Fabrica do Galeao in Brazil (220 or 232 between 1944 and 1948).

During 1943, USAAF Training Command received a number of complaints about durability issues with the plywood wings of the PT-19 and the PT-23 when exposed to the high heat and/or humidity of training bases located in Texas and Florida.[1] Maintenance officers at the USAAF overhaul depots had been forced to order replacement of the wooden wing sections after only two to three months' active service because of wood rot and ply separation issues.[1] Subsequent to this incident, the USAAF incorporated a demand for all-metal wing sections on all future fixed-wing training aircraft.[1]

The final variant was the PT-26 which used the L-440-7 engine. The Canadian-built versions of these were designated the Cornell for use by the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan which was centered in Canada.

Operational history

Radial engined PT-23 Cornell built by Aeronca, privately flown in 1990
Radial engined PT-23 Cornell built by Aeronca, privately flown in 1990

Compared to the earlier biplane trainers, the Fairchild PT-19 provided a more advanced type of aircraft. Speeds were higher and wing loading more closely approximated that of combat aircraft, with flight characteristics demanding more precision and care. Its virtues were that it was inexpensive, simple to maintain and, most of all, virtually viceless. The PT-19 truly lived up to its nickname, the Cradle of Heroes. It was one of a handful of primary trainer designs that were the first stop on a cadet's way to becoming a combat pilot.

These planes were delivered to various bases all over the country by WASPs (Women's Airforce Service Pilots) between 1942-1944.

Thousands of the PT-19 series were rapidly integrated into the United States and Commonwealth training programs, serving throughout World War II and beyond. Even after their retirement in the late 1940s, a substantial number found their way onto the United States and other civil registers, being flown by private pilot owners.


Fairchild PT-19 - Ranger L-440-1 Engine (Aircraft # 40-2418)
Fairchild PT-19 - Ranger L-440-1 Engine (Aircraft # 40-2418)
Fairchild PT-19 used in the Little Norway training camp. Now at the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum
Fairchild PT-19 used in the Little Norway training camp. Now at the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum
Initial production variant of the Model M62 powered by 175 hp L-440-1, 270 built.
As the PT-19 but powered by a 200 hp L-440-3 and detailed changes, redesignated T-19A in 1948, 3226 built.
Instrument training version of the PT-19A, 143 built and six conversions from PT-19A.
A PT-19 re-engined with a 220 hp R-670-5 radial engine.
Production radial-engined version, 774 built.
Instrument training version of the PT-23, 256 built.
PT-19A variant with enclosed cockpit for the Commonwealth Air Training Scheme, powered by a 200hp L-440-3, 670 built for the Royal Canadian Air Force as the Cornell I.
As PT-26 but with a 200hp L-440-7 engine, 807 built by Fleet as the Cornell II.
AS PT-26A with minor changes, 250 built as the Cornell III.
Cornell I
RCAF designation for the PT-26.
Cornell II
RCAF designation for the PT-26A.
Cornell III
RCAF designation for the PT-26B.


Fairchild PT-26B Cornell in flying condition at the Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum, Brandon, Manitoba, 2005.
Fairchild PT-26B Cornell in flying condition at the Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum, Brandon, Manitoba, 2005.
PT-26 of the Texas Air Museum, Slaton, Texas
 El Salvador[7]
 South Africa
 Southern Rhodesia
 United Kingdom
 United States

Surviving aircraft

Fairchild PT-19 at the Cavanaugh Flight Museum
Fairchild PT-19 at the Cavanaugh Flight Museum

As of 2011, there were 98 airworthy aircraft worldwide.[19]

Specifications (PT-19A)

3-view line drawing of the Fairchild PT-23 Cornell

Data from United States Military Aircraft since 1909[23]

General characteristics


See also

Related development

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration, and era

Related lists


  1. ^ a b c Sessums, Col. J.W. Design and Engineering Problems of Aircraft Production. 14 May 1946, pp. 6–8.
  2. ^ a b Andrade 1979, p. 179
  3. ^ a b c d Andrade 1979, p. 239
  4. ^ Bridgman 1951, p. 6a.
  5. ^ Bridgman 1948, p. 10a.
  6. ^ Bridgman 1951, p. 7a.
  7. ^ Bridgman 1951, p. 17a.
  8. ^ Hagedorn 1993, p. 51
  9. ^ Flight 13 May 1955, p. 634.
  10. ^ Bridgman 1948, p. 14a.
  11. ^ Flight 13 May 1955, p. 648.
  12. ^ a b Flight 13 May 1955, p. 652.
  13. ^ Fricker Air International May 1990, p. 257.
  14. ^ Flight 13 May 1955, p. 653.
  15. ^ Bridgman 1951, p. 16a.
  16. ^ Air International August 1990, pp. 72–73.
  17. ^ Steinemann Air International February 1992, p. 75.
  18. ^ Air International September 1973, p. 121.
  19. ^ Murphy, Kevin. "Fairchild PT-19 / PT-23 / PT-26 Cornell." Warbird Alley, 2011.
  20. ^ Travis AFB Aviation Museum Foundation. "PT-19 "Cornell" Serial Number: 41-20230". Archived from the original on 23 November 2022. Retrieved 23 November 2022.
  21. ^ "Aviation". Reynolds Museum. Government of Alberta. Retrieved 1 December 2019.
  22. ^ "N58799 at".
  23. ^ Swanborough and Bowers 1963, pp. 258–260.