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Model Designation

Basic flight training in the United States prior to World War II was generally provided in light biplanes, which tended to be slow, stable and tolerant of fledgling pilots. Thus, the majority of U.S. Army Air Corps primary training in 1940 was still being done in biplanes like the Boeing-Stearman PT-13/17 series. However, given the increasingly high-performance nature of the world's combat aircraft, the Army reasoned that the primary training was too easy, giving the beginner a false sense of mastery that could, on the next leg up, slow down his learning, or even cause him to fail, when he was prematurely thrust into more demanding aircraft. Experienced instructors wanted the primary trainer to be a monoplane, with higher wing loading that demanded more careful flying. Such reasoning led the USAAC to evaluate the Fairchild M62 two-seat monoplane.

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.

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 vice-less. 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.

Thousands of the PT-19 series were rapidly integrated into the US 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 US civil register.


Newly trained pilots stand in front of a PT-19, ready for duty

PT-19 in flight with student and instructor

Formation training

Ranger L-440-3 6-cyl. inverted air-cooled in-line piston engine, 200 hp

1,845 lbs Empty
Up to 2,545 lbs Loaded

Wingspan: 36 feet 0 inches
Length: 28 feet 10 inches
Height: 10 feet 6 inches

Armament: None

Maximum speed: 132 mph
Cruising speed: 106 mph
Range: 480 miles
Ceiling: 15,300 ft.