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

According to H.L. Puckett, "Still U.S. pilots were receiving their primary flight training in biplanes, although the low wing advance trainer was in use. A look around showed that there was no low wing primary trainer being produced in the U.A. Fairchild felt this urgency and set his organization at work on such a low wing trainer with the proposal that the new proven Ranger be used as the power plant for the new airplane to be known as the M-62. The M-62, which was to become the PT-19, was to use the experience gained from the F-24 and the more recent Model 46."[1]

In 1933, Fairchild Aircraft Corporation's chief engineer, A.A. Gassner, had hired Armand Thiebolt, as his chief structural engineer. In 1937, Thiebolt was named chief engineer, and given the task of designing the PT-19. Included in the design was the use of interchangeable parts and non-strategic materials. According to Puckett, "The proposed low wing design adapted itself readily to a wide tread landing gear, which when combined with judicious wheel location and a low center of gravity, provided protection against ground looping." The Ranger engine would also result in a narrower cowling compared to those using a radial engine, which meant increased visibility for the pilot. The reduced cowling also improved propeller efficiency and an increase in horsepower.[1]

The cantilever wings, with wooden ribs, were covered by 3/32 inch preformed mahogany or fir plywood. The inboard portion consisted of a welded trussed 4130 structure. The fuselage used Chromoly square tubing for the longerons and brace members, and fabric covered. The cowling was made of Alclad. Both wing center sections contained the 24.5-US-gallon (93 L) fuel tank, with landing gear housings on the outboard ends. The oleo struts were designed to withstand a 6 g acceleration from a 30-inch (76 cm) drop. Two hollow box wood spars were used in the wing and center sections. Duramold was used to cover the wings. Early models used aluminum alloy seats made by the Budd Company, while later models used plywood seats made by Hughes Aircraft Company. Early models had metal floors and flaps, while later models used wood for both. The vertical and horizontal stabilizers were made of spruce spars, covered with 116 inch (1.6 mm) plywood. According to Puckett, "Moisture became the arch enemy of the Fairchild PT and was responsible for the relatively small survival rate of the airplanes built."[1]

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

On 15 May 1939, the M-62 prototype first flew. In a fly-off competition at Wright Field, the aircraft beat out 17 other designs. On 22 September 1939, the Army placed an order for 270 airplanes. Fairchild had to include 27 wood working subcontractors, including furniture stores, a hosiery plant and a foundry. After the start of WWII, Fairchild licensed manufacturing with Fleet Aircraft, Howard Aircraft Corporation, St. Louis Aircraft Corporation, and Aeronca.[1]

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 airplane production exceeded engine production, the PT-23 was prototyped by Fairchild. Except for the engine, the airplane was identical from the firewall rearwards. According to Puckett, "The second protype PT-23 was the only one of these airplanes which was painted Air Corps blue and yellow."[1] The PT-23 was powered by 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.[2] 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.[2] Subsequent to this incident, the USAAF incorporated a demand for all-metal wing sections on all future fixed-wing training aircraft.[2]

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

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 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.
 El Salvador[8]
 South Africa
 Southern Rhodesia
 United Kingdom
 United States

Surviving aircraft

Fairchild PT-19 at the Cavanaugh Flight Museum

As of 2011, there were 98 airworthy aircraft worldwide.[20]

Specifications (PT-19A)

3-view line drawing of the Fairchild PT-23
3-view line drawing of the Fairchild PT-23
3-view line drawing of the Fairchild PT-26
3-view line drawing of the Fairchild PT-26

Data from United States Military Aircraft since 1909[26]

General characteristics


See also

Related development

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration, and era

Related lists


  1. ^ a b c d e Puckett, H.L. (1980). Sherman Fairchild's PT-19: Cradle of Heroes. Flambeau Lith Corporation. pp. 14–36, 77–85.
  2. ^ a b c Sessums, Col. J.W. Design and Engineering Problems of Aircraft Production. 14 May 1946, pp. 6–8.
  3. ^ a b Andrade 1979, p. 179
  4. ^ a b c d Andrade 1979, p. 239
  5. ^ Bridgman 1951, p. 6a.
  6. ^ Bridgman 1948, p. 10a.
  7. ^ Bridgman 1951, p. 7a.
  8. ^ Bridgman 1951, p. 17a.
  9. ^ Hagedorn 1993, p. 51
  10. ^ Flight 13 May 1955, p. 634.
  11. ^ Bridgman 1948, p. 14a.
  12. ^ Flight 13 May 1955, p. 648.
  13. ^ a b Flight 13 May 1955, p. 652.
  14. ^ Fricker Air International May 1990, p. 257.
  15. ^ Flight 13 May 1955, p. 653.
  16. ^ Bridgman 1951, p. 16a.
  17. ^ Air International August 1990, pp. 72–73.
  18. ^ Steinemann Air International February 1992, p. 75.
  19. ^ Air International September 1973, p. 121.
  20. ^ Murphy, Kevin. "Fairchild PT-19 / PT-23 / PT-26 Cornell." Warbird Alley, 2011.
  21. ^ Travis AFB Aviation Museum Foundation. "PT-19 "Cornell" Serial Number: 41-20230". Archived from the original on 23 November 2022. Retrieved 23 November 2022.
  22. ^ "Aviation". Reynolds Museum. Government of Alberta. Retrieved 1 December 2019.
  23. ^ "N58799 at".
  24. ^ Garnett, Craig. "Carper's PT-19 finds permanent home with CAF". Uvalde Leader-News. Retrieved 22 December 2022.
  25. ^ "PT-19 Jeny". Commemorative Air Force.
  26. ^ Swanborough and Bowers 1963, pp. 258–260.