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Model Designation

The Fairchild PT-26 is the third in a family of three primary trainers introduced in 1939. Designed to replace the biplane trainers then in use the single, low-winged Cornell more accurately reflected the front line fighters that cadets would later be asked to fly in combat. The PT-19 was the basic version of the Cornell while the PT-23 had the same basic airframe with a radial engine fitted. Fleet Aircraft of Canada built most PT-26s with an enclosed cockpit and other cold weather modifications for use by the Royal Canadian Air Force.

Fairchild developed a nearly identical variant of the PT-19, the PT-26, for the Royal Canadian Air Force that featured fully enclosed cockpits to help combat the cold Canadian climate. By the end of the war in 1945, a total of 8,130 PT-19s, PT-23s and PT-26s had been produced to serve in such places as the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Norway, Latin America and Rhodesia.


In the late 1930s, Sherman Fairchild hired the talented designer Armand Thiebolt to design an aircraft to satisfy the Army Air Corps' call for a primary trainer. The new plane had to be forgiving, have aerodynamic refinements for improved safety, feature interchangeable parts and be built from largely “non-strategic” materials (i.e. wood and fabric). Thiebolt rose to this challenge and set to work designing the M-62 (Fairchild's designation for the PT-19). The M-62 was fitted with a Ranger in-line engine giving the design a very narrow frontal area. The plane's low wing allowed for a widely spaced fixed landing gear which guarded against ground accidents. The PT-19's steel tubing frame and plywood sheathed wing and tail structures were light, strong and easy to care for; although the wings were susceptible to rotting in wet climates.

In September l939, the M-62 won a fly-off at Wright Field in Dayton, Ohio against 17 other designs and became the U.S. Army's primary trainer. Little more than a year later, 12 PT-19s a week rolled out of Fairchild's Haggerstown, Maryland factory. After America's entry into World War II, Fairchild could no longer meet the demand for PT-19s, so Howard Aircraft, St. Louis Aircraft, and Aeronca also began constructing PT-19s under license. Soon PT-19 airframes were produced faster than Ranger could build engines for them, and Fairchild began fitting Continental radial engines to PT-19 frames, calling the new aircraft the PT-23.

Cornells served in Canada until they were phased out of service in 1947.

Royal Canadian Air Force PT-26 Cornells in formation

PT-26 cutaway

Cornell in a "Military Postcard"

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.